Business

How a Polish Immigrant Made Millions at 23, Lost it All and Made Everything Back

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Thomas Gorny is a serial entrepreneur who currently runs three successful companies earning millions of dollars in combined revenue. His accomplishments and recognitions have made him one of the most admired CEOs in Silicon Valley.

The 40-year-old tech visionary’s road to the success, however, was a bumpy one.

Gorny’s journey began when he left his impoverished town in Poland and moved to Germany at the age of 14. There, he was able to attend a prestigious business college and even set up a small business on the side. Two months before his graduation, he dropped out of school and pursued an opportunity to emigrate to America.

In 1996, Gorny joined Internet Communications, one of the very first web hosting companies. Through hard work, he eventually gained 20% ownership of the firm. When he left the company in 1999, he was already a millionaire and had enough money to do some investing himself.

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He invested all of his money into various companies, which would later turn out to be a bad move. In 2001, when the dot-com bubble burst, Gorny lost almost everything.

“I set my goals around my net worth and that was a mistake. Everything suddenly collapsed,” he told Business Insider. “I completely abandoned the view of focusing on net worth. The success of a business really lies on the value it provides.”

Gorny, who was in the U.S. on an investor visa with no work permit, had very limited options. He studied the web hosting market and found that there was room for him to explore.

Using his credit card, Gorny launched a web hosting and site building company in late 2001 called iPower. The company was an instant hit and would later grow and merge with Endurance International in 2007, becoming one of America’s biggest web hosting companies.

When Warburg Pincus and Goldman Sachs purchased the company in 2011 for almost $1 billion, Gorny became a multimillionaire as one of its biggest individual shareholders.

Since the sale of Endurance, he has bootstrapped three companies including cloud-based telephony service firm Nextiva, a startup launchpad United Web, and Site Lock, a web security firm.

As much as Gorny values success, he sees his failures as just as important for the lessons they taught him.

“You can reflect and analyze not to repeat mistakes. It’s much harder to break down successes to learn how to improve,” he said.


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