101 Dumbest Moments in Business
2005's shenanigans, skulduggery and just plain stupidity.
41. If that's what you mean by f***ing killing someone, would you mind f***ing killing us next?In February, Microsoft unveils a new version of MSN search, developed at a cost of $100 million, in an attempt to take market share from Google. MSN's share of Internet search traffic promptly drops by a full percentage point.
42. Nice job with that pirated DVD bonfire, Tenderfoot.In May the Scout Association of Hong Kong launches the first merit badge program "focused on respect for and protection of intellectual property rights."
43. Good news, kids: You can flunk out of kindergarten and still grow up to become the CEO of a major tech company!
44. She went on to deny any involvement on the part of Neil French.In July, Burger King launches an ad campaign for its new Chicken Fries featuring a faux heavy-metal band called CoqRoq. Coqroq.com initially features photos of female fans captioned "Groupies love the Coq." After the captions are removed, Burger King spokeswoman Edna Johnson tells Advertising Age that they were written and assigned randomly by computer software that has since been disabled.
45. May I see my ID?In February, ChoicePoint -- the self-proclaimed "leading provider of identification and credential verification services" -- admits that it sold the personal data of 145,000 people to a number of unauthorized recipients, including an identity-theft ring in Los Angeles. ChoicePoint thoughtfully offers the victims a free credit report -- but still makes them pay to see the detailed information that was provided to the criminals. The incident kicks up an identity-theft furor serious enough to draw congressional hearings; the company later reports the incident cost it $21 million.
46. No, no. I said, "May I see my ID?"New Jersey payroll services provider Automatic Data Processing sends postcards to more than 1,000 employees of Adecco Employment Services, a global human resources firm, printed with the employees' Social Security numbers and instructions for accessing their benefits information online.
47. Mmmm. Can't wait to belly up to the all-you-can-eat gruel buffet.Developers in Chatham, England, announce plans for Dickens World, a $100 million theme park based on the life and times of Charles Dickens.
48. There's no exhaust pipe, but a rear-facing aromatherapy emitter now comes standard.A carmakers' lobbying group runs an ad featuring a photo of a child in a car seat with copy that states, "Autos manufactured today are virtually emission-free." When called on the claim, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says the ad refers to emissions classified as pollutants by the EPA, not greenhouse-gas emissions, which have risen more than 13 percent since 1990. The Union of Concerned Scientists counters with an ad that shows a buckled-in baby holding a cigarette and the headline: "If today's cars are 'virtually emission-free' ... then so is this cigarette."
49. Bubble Trouble, Part 4: The air we breathe is free? Says who?In November, New York developers William and Arthur Zeckendorf agree to pay $37 million for the air rights above a church and an 88-year-old private club. The Zeckendorfs' purchase, part of a plan to build a 35-story apartment building that would tower over its neighbors on East 60th Street, comes out to a whopping $430 per square foot -- two to four times the going rate for the skies above Manhattan.
50. Got a yen for J-Com shares?In December, job recruiter J-Com's IPO in Tokyo goes awry when a trader for Mizuho Securities types in an order to sell 610,000 shares at 1 yen (less than a penny) per share instead of the intended 1 share at 610,000 yen (about $5,000). Though the order is for 41 times the number of outstanding shares, the Tokyo Stock Exchange insists that the order be processed as entered. Mizuho loses at least 27 billion yen ($225 million) on the typo, an amount nearly equal to its entire profit for the prior fiscal year.
From the February 1, 2006 issue