This week Elon Musk released a never before seen blooper reel of SpaceX's failed attempts at landing the Falcon 9 rocket. Watch the video with the sound on, and pay close attention to the subtitles.
Every one of those explosions amounts to millions of lost investor dollars, attempting a technique that no one in the industry thought was possible. In June, SpaceX completed two Falcon 9 landings in 48 hours.
Failure is critical for innovation to happen.
“If you already know it's going to work, it's not an experiment, and only through experimentation can you get real invention. The most important inventions come from trial and error with lots of failure, and the failure is critical, and it's also embarrassing.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Bezos likely has the Amazon Fire Phone in mind, which from the outside, was considered an embarrassing failure for the company. And yet, it's those same attempts that lead to the Amazon Echo, and dozens of innovations that made the 1996 online bookseller one of the most important companies on the planet.
Startups fail all the time. There is even a Product Graveyard to commemorate (and learn from) the most successful ones. The word 'pivot' gets thrown around a lot and 'failing fast' has become a startup mantra. Failure isn't fun and shouldn't be celebrated, but it is needed to advance technological progress.