What Did it Cost? Just, A Billion!

3 min readMar 18, 2022


Nobody is perfect and human error is almost inevitable, but some monumental screw-ups can end up costing loads of cash. Here we present you some of the most expensive mistakes in history ever made which will make you feel slightly better about your slip-ups.

1)Sale of Alaska


Alaska was originally owned by Russia and was a lucrative source of fur, tea, and ice. In 1867 the Russian emperor Alexander II settled an agreement to sell the region to the US for $7.2 million. Initially, Americans took Alaska insignificantly until, in 1896, a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon (a territory in northwest Canada). Hence, they found true potential as a gateway to many natural resources like oil and gold. Economists now estimate the value of its oil and gas reserves alone to be worth $ 200 billion, citing this is one mistake that made the Russian emperor turn in his grave.

2)Ronald Wayne’s Apple shares

Most people would kill for a 10 % share in Apple nowadays. But one man threw his golden ticket to wealth. You have probably heard of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, but there was once a little-known founder of apple, Ron Wayne who joined the young entrepreneurs in 1976 to oversee mechanical engineering and documentation. He even penned the original logo, in return he gained a 10 % stake in the business. After becoming concerned about possible debts falling on him he decided to sell his share in less than two weeks after drawing up his own contract. Although Wayne has claimed that he doesn’t regret the potential screw-up, his original share of the company would now be worth $120 billion, making him the richest man in the world according to the 2019 Forbes rich list. By the end of 2019, the global tech giant is valued at $1.2 trillion. So even a small part of the remarkable company could be life-altering!

3)Blockbuster Blunder

In the days before ‘ Tiger King’, ‘Money Heist’, and ‘Stranger Things’, Netflix rented out DVDs across America through a small mail system. Established in 1997, it became the world’s first online DVD rental store but it only had 30 employees and 925 titles available. Even though they were losing money, they felt confident enough in the business model to approach Blockbuster, offering to sell Netflix to them for just $50 million.

Being the undisputed kings of home video rental- Blockbuster, who had 9000 rental stores and a market value of $ 5 billion at their peak, turned them down.

As the world moved through video cassettes, to DVDs, to online streaming, Netflix adopted its business models. It wasn’t until 2004 that Blockbuster launched Blockbuster online, offering unlimited DVD rentals to compete with Netflix. But Netflix already had the online lead. In 2007, Netflix launched its online streaming platform, which was streaming internationally by 2010.

For Blockbuster this was the killing blow, very few people were renting videos and DVDs in stores anymore, and their revenue took a serious tumble. By 2010 they filed for bankruptcy and were found to be worth a fraction of their previous market value at just $25 million.

Netflix on the other hand thrived. When the world went to lockdown in 2020, the 190 country service was valued at an astonishing $194 billion more than 38 times Blockbuster’s peak.

Everyone makes mistakes but even some of the smallest slip-ups can have colossal consequences that end up costing an absolute fortune!

Credits: Ishpreet Kaur | E-Cell, ABV-IIITM Gwalior