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Excite do have a brand with some recognition (not as powerful as it once was perhaps).
The real measure of success is how that brand is monetised.
I'm not sure of Excite's financial status, but that can probably be found with a little searching...
You might start a company knowing that it will not make a profit for the first year, or the first ten years, and so if you have other funds you can go for it anyway. But your losses must always be what the business plan has dictated to you, otherwise you run the risk of spiralling out of control. Unforeseen circumstances and the extent to which an entrpreneur decides to go with it depends on their expeirence and their willingness to take a risk.
All business success, in the long run, is defined by money. That is what a business is. Having a well known brand name might help you to recover quickly from a bad time, but it can also be a liablity. If you create the illusion that you are a success then you might do well attracting investment to build while you grow, but its no substitue for getting money from your customers.
The amount of money that defines success is unique for each business.
There's no point where a business 'is a success' the closest we get is 'doing ok at the moment'. I think that businesses that feel they are a success suddenly fail faster than their owners thought possible.
I guess you need to find out if excite makes money.
When I quit my day job, my wife quit her day job, we pay for our own insurance, and have a comfortable bank balance.
The actual numbers are relative.
Not to say that we have more free time - sure our income is up, but I still work practically 18 hours a day just to keep up with the demand. Never worked harder, never been happier.
I'm a success.
"I hate those people who love to tell you/Money is the root of all that kills/They have never been poor/They have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas." - Art, Everclear
all this talk about money and enjoying work reminds me of Office Space, hehe.