101 Dumbest Moments in Business
2005's shenanigans, skulduggery and just plain stupidity.
21. Sounds OK, so long as all the men are overweight, middle-aged, balding, etc.Developers announce plans for the London Academy of Sex and Relationships, an $8.3 million sexual theme park. The project, a spokesperson says, is "committed to avoiding the sleazy image that the sex industry usually conjures.... Titillation is not the goal."
22. Ho, ho, ho, indeed.During the run-up to Christmas, the North Shore Mall in Peabody, Mass., denies children access to Santa's lap unless their parents pony up $21 for a photo. Or at least that seems to be the rule until Maria Grigorian and her weeping child are turned away because the single mother can't afford to pay. After Grigorian tips off local TV reporters, the mall says it's always had a no-charge Santa policy and claims the incident was a simple misunderstanding.
23. New for 2006: gaunt, hollow-eyed Stalking You Bear.In January the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. receives protests from the mental-health community over its Crazy for You Bear, a plush toy in a straitjacket that comes with commitment papers. The company agrees to discontinue the bear.
24. Damn those infernal computating hoochamagooches.
25. Who knew Adam Curry was such a potty-mouth?Los Angeles Times opinion page editor Michael Kinsley introduces "wikitorials," inviting readers to log on and revise the newspaper's op-eds. "It may be a complete mess, but it's going to be interesting to try," Kinsley says. He's right. Readers contribute with abandon -- and with profanity. The paper suspends the feature, and Kinsley resigns three months later.
26. And maybe the cops come three days later and find you stabbed to death on your kitchen floor."If there's a burglar in my home, maybe I send an e-mail or a text message to the police instead of making a call." -- Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, on his VOIP service's lack of 911 access.
27. Enron? Those guys were lame. We did the same thing, but it only took us two months.In August, commodities brokerage Refco debuts on the New York Stock Exchange. Its stock rises 25 percent the first day. Nine weeks later, on Oct. 10, the company discloses that CEO Phillip Bennett had hidden $430 million in debt from its books. On Oct. 12, Bennett is arrested for securities fraud. On Oct. 13, trading in Refco is halted. On Oct. 17 the firm files for bankruptcy and starts selling off assets.
28. For speed, Refco's got you beat. But in terms of creativity ...In September, two months after Connecticut-based hedge-fund firm Bayou Management closed its doors but assured investors that their money would be returned, founder Sam Israel III and CFO Daniel Marino plead guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges. SEC investigators say Bayou had burned through $300 million of the $450 million it had taken in since its founding in 1996, had siphoned off tens of millions by funneling trades through its own securities firm, and had even set up a sham accountancy to issue fake audits attesting to its phony results. Israel and Marino each face up to 30 years in prison.
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.
30. Bubble Trouble, Part 3: Better get your offer in quick -- rumor has it, Kate Moss is very interested.A house in the Shepherds Bush area of London measuring less than 10 feet across at its widest goes on the market for $933,000. Listing agent Winkworths describes the anorexic structure as "utterly amazing and almost certainly unique."
From the February 1, 2006 issue