101 dumbest moments in business: Quotes
As we review the year in shenanigans, skulduggery, and just plain stupidity, here are some notable statements.
1. Bubble Trouble
"If you grew up in Danvers, and you remember it as the spooky place on the hill, it might not be the right place to live."-- William McLaughlin, an executive with AvalonBay Communities, which is converting boarded-up Massachusetts mental institution Danvers State Hospital into a 497-unit complex of high-end apartments and condos. That sound you hear? Not the ghosts of mental patients, but loud hissing from the wildly inflated housing bubble, which tops our list this year with seven priceless moments of real estate insanity. First up: the nuthouse-to-yuppie-house trend currently sweeping North America, with such conversions also planned in Detroit, New York, Vancouver, and Columbia, S.C., where the centerpiece of the development is an original brick building with the word "asylum" chiseled into the facade.
7. C'mon, it's called Black Apron. Isn't that enough?"The message conveyed how proud we are of this new coffee, but did not address our deep sadness and concern for the tremendous loss of life and devastation in the recent natural disaster in Southeast Asia." -- From an e-mail sent to Starbucks customers in January, apologizing for a previous e-mail that touted its new Black Apron Exclusives Aged Sumatra Lot 523 coffee, released days after a tsunami killed tens of thousands on the Indonesian island.
14. How 'bout you stop sending us those Celine Dion CDs?"What do I have to do to get Audioslave on WKSS this week?!!? Whatever you can dream up, I can make it happen." -- E-mail from an employee of Sony BMG's Epic label to a Hartford, Conn., radio station. In July the company pays a $10 million fine as part of a settlement in which it agrees to stop indirectly paying radio stations to play songs by its artists.
26. And maybe the cops come three days later and find you stabbed to death on your kitchen floor.
29. Men, on the other hand, have a charming self-destructive quality.Speaking at an ad industry event in Toronto, WPP Group's worldwide creative director, Neil French, says there aren't more female creative directors "because they're crap" and they eventually "wimp out" and "go off and suckle something." French speaks from a stage decorated as a hunting lodge while being served drinks by a woman in a skimpy maid's outfit, of whom he asks, "Could you lean over a bit more?" Two weeks later WPP accepts French's resignation.
39. That may be, but you don't have to rub it in."Jessica recognizes that she has a very broad fan base." -- A spokesperson for Jessica Simpson, explaining the size-2 entertainer's introduction of a plus-size line of jeans in August.
40. Just google him. We hear it really ticks him off."F---ing Eric Schmidt is a f---ing pussy. I'm going to f---ing bury that guy, I have done it before and I will do it again. I'm going to f---ing kill Google." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in response to the departure of Mark Lucovsky, a former Microsoft "distinguished engineer" who left last year to work at Google. The alleged aria, punctuated by the tossing of a chair, was cited in a sworn statement by Lucovsky that became public during court hearings over another Microsoft-to-Google defection in September. Microsoft denies Lucovsky's version of the incident.
54. Our new orange-glazed chicken is absolutely heavenly."It is difficult to conceive what consulting services a deceased individual might provide to Tyson." -- From a lawsuit by Amalgamated Bank against Tyson Foods board members for breach of fiduciary duties. Among other complaints, the suit alleges the company has promised to pay consulting fees of $800,000 a year to retired CEO Don Tyson -- and to keep paying the money to his survivors after he dies.
65. Don't be so hard on yourself. There's the demise of mom-and-pop coffeehouses, the poverty and despair among Third World growers ..."Every time I reach a Starbucks, I feel like I've accomplished something, when actually I have accomplished nothing." -- Winter (yes, just Winter), a Houston man who, since 1997, has been on a quest to buy a something-ccino at each of the world's 6,000 corporately owned Starbucks.
74. Neil French, meet Bernie Ecclestone."Women should be all dressed in white, like all other domestic appliances." -- Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone, on Danica Patrick's fourth-place finish at the Indy 500, the best showing ever by a woman in the race.
91. If by "not giant" you actually mean "huge," then, OK, we'll buy it."The effect of Disney and Pixar guessing wrong on this was actually not giant." -- Pixar CEO Steve Jobs, defending overly optimistic DVD sales forecasts. The animated-film studio sees second-quarter earnings drop 66 percent. Next: 101 Dumbest Moments in Business: Full list >>
From the February 1, 2006 issue