Top 10 Companies That Came Back From the Dead

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Top 10 Companies That Came Back From the Dead

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Callum Janes
These corporate comeback stories will blow your mind! For this list, we'll be looking at organizations and companies that went from practical bankruptcy to back in business! Our countdown includes Delta Air Lines, Apple, Marvel Comics, and more!
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Top 10 Companies That Came Back From the Dead


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Companies That Came Back From the Dead.

For this list, we’ll be looking at organizations and companies that went from practical bankruptcy to back in business!

What do you think of these dramatic comebacks? Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Six Flags


It turns out those six flags should’ve been red flags to investors. The ambitious Premier Parks bought Six Flags Theme Parks in 1998, and spent countless amounts trying to set itself up for success. But by 2004, the debt it had accumulated forced it to start making changes and selling assets. The company's cash flow drastically decreased, with the 2007-08 financial crisis being the final nail in the coffin. The company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009. After some reshuffling and renegotiations, the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2010 and started theme park projects overseas! However, with more debt problems and the pandemic, it appears the company is still struggling.

#9: Delta Air Lines


Delta Air Lines is a staple of American air travel, but it nearly went bankrupt after the horrific tragedy on September 11th. The low-cost competition began to dominate an already suffering industry as people were too scared to fly. An entire restructuring of the company was initiated, changing flight operations, eliminating a lot of former routes, and cutting jobs. But that wasn’t enough, so salaries began taking cuts. Employees from the ground to the CEO took significant pay cuts to keep them afloat. US Airways proposed a substantial amount for a potential takeover, but Delta rallied its troops and proposed a bankruptcy plan which was approved in 2007. In 2008, they merged with Northwest Airlines, having weathered the storm.

#8: Jack in the Box


No one wants to have a bad meal. But imagine after eating at a place, you got infected with E. coli! Jack in the Box was involved in an outbreak of the bacteria in the United States, with some cases having deadly consequences. The chain was forced to settle several lawsuits, nearly bankrupting them after losing most of their customers. Something like this you would be lucky to come back from, which surprisingly, Jack in the Box did. After ensuring all their locations worked well within food safety regulations, the company reintroduced their old mascot with multiple campaigns. They reinvigorated the brand, bringing them back from the brink.

#7: Hostess


The collapse of this company is a tale of greed. Old HB Inc. was a goliath of the bakery industry, but it wanted to have a near-monopoly. In 1995, it began several huge acquisitions of its competitors, buying up numerous famous brands. But it appears its eyes were a bit bigger than its wallet. After the various buyouts and mergers, the quality of its product declined. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2004, was bought over, restructured, and filed for bankruptcy again in 2012 where the vast amount of brands were divided up over several companies. The new Hostess Brands in 2013 has been a lot more focused and still produces Twinkies to this day.

#6: Nintendo


Nintendo has repeatedly dominated the video game industry, making it seemingly invincible. But all it took was one lousy console to nearly take it down. Off the back of the very successful Wii and Nintendo DS systems, the company released its least successful console in 2012, the Wii U. The company’s now-late CEO, Satoru Iwata, took a 50% pay cut to stay afloat, while other executives' pay was reduced by 20-30%. They also reached several agreements for IPs to appear at amusement parks, release the NES Classic Edition and released the NES Classic Edition and apps for smart devices, including “Pokémon Go.” This provided enough cash flow to develop the incredibly successful Nintendo Switch, saving the company without having to fire a soul.

#5: Chrysler


Despite not being the biggest on the market, Chrysler was an essential part of American vehicle production, but it ran into trouble in the 1970s. Struggling to adapt to changing consumer tastes and increased oil prices, the company lacked the cash resources to match increased competition and transportation standards. Moreover, with reliability problems popping up in recent models, the company was on the brink. CEO Lee Iacocca saved the day in 1979, securing $1.5 billion from the government and attaining an additional $2 billion from other sources following massive restructuring. However, the fragile company would later file bankruptcy during the late 2000s financial crisis, later being bailed out to remain active.

#4: Starbucks


Aggressive expansion from 2005-08 put the company in a difficult position during the financial crisis. Eliminating nearly a thousand stores internationally and exponentially more jobs, the company needed to do something and quickly. Cue the return of CEO Howard Schultz. After reducing his salary alongside massive cutbacks, Schultz forced the company to reexamine. He brought together all the store managers at company expense, was completely transparent with them, and attempted to retrain their staff in the art of making coffee. They were reportedly seven months from insolvency, but Schultz reinvigorated them to regain what the shops had lost: the Starbucks experience. And it worked. Starbucks consolidated itself and returned to active growth only a few years later.

#3: Lego


As Lego’s generic building blocks slowly decreased in sales, the company needed to start thinking of new ways to generate income. In 1999, the company made its first jump into brand collaboration, beginning with “Star Wars.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to offset the overall bad sales, the company nearing bankruptcy in 2003. For the longest time, toys and video games had been battling for the attention of younger audiences, but Lego saw an opportunity for an amalgamation. In 2005, the company released “Lego Star Wars.” Its sales became an instant hit, providing huge game sales and promoting its building sets. After that, the company moved onto new brand deals and opened the door to a new age of Lego.

#2: Marvel Comics


Marvel was in bad shape in 1994. After sporting some of the greatest comic heroes and talent the industry had ever known, several of their most prized artists left to form Image Comics. This, coupled with a disastrous period in comic sales, led to the company filing Chapter 11 in 1996. It was now or never, so Marvel was forced to sell off the rights to some of its most iconic heroes. But it turned out it was just what the company needed. Movie series such as “Blade,” “X-Men,” and “Spider-Man” brought new life into the company. Along with some successful comic releases, Marvel was back with the MCU on the horizon.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Toys “R” Us
Bankruptcy Revealed There Was Still a Market to Take Advantage Of

Sbarro
The Decline of Mall Food Courts Forced the Company to Reinvent Itself

Best Buy
Scandals and Reduced Revenue Led to a “Customer Experience” Transformation

#1: Apple


In 1985, co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs was ousted from his own company, and another co-founder Steve Wozniak left over disagreements of the company's direction. Apple produced many iffy machines over the next few years, failing to innovate, resulting in drastic financial losses. Reportedly weeks from bankruptcy, the company brought Jobs back and purchased his company “NeXT” in 1997 as their last hope. Jobs became interim CEO, wholly restructured the product line, and did the unthinkable: partnered with the company’s biggest competitor, Microsoft. Gaining a $150 million investment, the company introduced the Apple Store, released the widely successful iMac, and created the iPod. The comeback was so dramatic that the story has been chronicled multiple times.
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