Bad times spawn great start-ups
By Jim Hopkins, USA TODAY
Walt Disney sits at his drawing board in late 1922 working on a Laugh-o-Gram.
SAN FRANCISCO — Walt Disney lost an acting job as a movie extra and started his cartoon company in a Hollywood garage. The timing: the 1923-24 recession. Last month, Ethan Diamond and Iain Lamb launched their San Francisco dot-com amid another recession. They had quit a tech firm that took an unappealing turn. Crazy? Not really. Sixteen of the 30 corporations in the Dow Jones industrial average trace their birth to recessions. Tech titans William Hewlett and David Packard joined forces in Silicon Valley in 1938 during the Depression. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft during the 1975 recession.