Back in the late 90s, web portals like Excite were the beating heart of the web. Then along came this young upstart Google with all their newfangled ideas and clever engineers. But before the search giant had become a giant, Larry and Sergey were looking to sell to the highest bidder. In 1999, Excite could have had Google for under $1 million, and they passed.
The story was related at TechCrunch Disrupt by Vinod Khosla, former Excite backer and man behind Khosla Ventures. Apparently, Larry and Sergey asked for a mere $1 million for Google. Excite CEO George Bell turned them down. Another offer for around $750,000 was also rejected by Excite. For reference, Google's market cap as of now, is $167 billion. Ouch.
Hindsight is 20/20, so we can't fault Excite for misreading the tea leaves. But it makes you wonder what a Google-free world would be like.