Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

101 Dumbest Moments in Business
2005's shenanigans, skulduggery and just plain stupidity.
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.

92. I'll take care of the beer and chips if you bring the Ritalin.
In September, DirecTV starts offering a "SuperFan" package that allows viewers to watch eight NFL games simultaneously on a single screen. In completely unrelated news, a study by Medco Health Solutions finds that use of prescription drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is rising faster among adults than kids. Spending on ADHD medication has quadrupled in four years to $3.1 billion annually.

93. No joke here. Just suffice it to say that the literal translation of the Spanish word cajeta is "little box."
With the help of Latin pop sensation Thalia Sodi, Hershey introduces Cajeta Elegancita, a new candy bar for the Hispanic market. Though the wrapper features a picture of Sodi, apparently she neglects to fill her Yanqui partners in on a subtlety of Spanish: In Mexico, "cajeta" can be used to mean "nougat." Elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world, however, it's slang for female anatomy.

94. Thus giving a whole new meaning to "crash-test dummies."
101 DUMBEST IDEAS in business

Dumbest moments in...

2006 Smart List
And the winners are...
After a live demonstration of the radar-powered automatic braking system in Mercedes-Benz's new S-Class sedans turns into a nationally televised three-car pileup, the company claims that the steel walls of the safety center where the test took place interfered with the radar and confounded the system. An investigation by the Stern TV network, however, shows that the demonstration was staged (albeit poorly). Mercedes later admits it knew all along that the system would not work inside the safety center and had enlisted the vehicle's driver to "simulate" the experience.

95. That really smarts.
In its January/February issue, Business 2.0 honors OfficeMax in its first annual Smart List. Two weeks after the issue hits newsstands, OfficeMax announces the resignation of CEO Christopher Milliken amid an accounting scandal and says it will be forced to restate its 2004 results.

96. Which also explains why they use Sportscreme instead of Bengay.
"I know there are issues with homophobia in the NFL, but it never occurred to me the thing would come to this."

What's the dumbest moment in business this year?
  Converting a notorious former mental institution into high-end condos.
  Ad exec saying there aren't more female creative directors "because they’re crap."
  Selling personal data to an identity-theft ring.
  Executive ringing up $241,000 in charges at a New York strip club.
  Bank sending a form letter to an Arab-American man addressed to "Palestinian Bomber."
or View results
-- Louisiana State University drama professor Leigh Clemons, after attempting to buy a jersey personalized with the last name of former student and New England Patriots defensive back Randall Gay from NFL.com. Upon entering Gay's name in the requisite text box, the league's website informs her that the field should not contain a "naughty word."

97. We find your lack of faith disturbing.
Over the course of 2005, Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne issues increasingly shrill pronouncements about nefarious short-sellers driving the company's stock into the ground. After listening to an Overstock conference call with investors in August, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban posts to his blog a list of the topics Byrne covered: "Miscreants; an unnamed Sith Lord he hopes the feds will bury under a prison; gay bath houses; whether he is gay, does cocaine, both, or neither; phone taps; phone lines misdirected to Mexico; arrested reporters; payoffs; conspiracies; crooks; egomaniacs; fools; paranoia; which newspapers are shills and for who; money laundering; his Irish temper; false identities; threats; intimidation; and private investigators. All in 61 minutes." Cuban then short-sells 10,000 shares of Overstock.

98. Call it a merger of equals.
A few weeks after eZiba.com sends out its winter catalog, the call center's pin-drop silence begins to worry execs. As it turns out, a bug in a program designed to identify the best prospects on eZiba's mailing list led to the catalog instead being sent to those deemed least likely to respond. "Sadly, our probability estimates were correct," says eZiba founder Dick Sabot. On Jan. 14, eZiba suspends operations while seeking new investors to cover its cash shortfall. Overstock.com later buys the retailer's assets for $500,000.

99. Hey, when did ethics become part of the B-school curriculum?
In March, Harvard Business School announces that it will reject 119 applicants who "hacked" into a website to learn their admission status. The hack in question involved modifying part of a Web address to take advantage of the site's lack of security.

100. Bubble Trouble, Part 7: Bubble? What bubble? Oh ... that bubble.
In May an Experian-Gallup national survey finds that 65 percent of Americans haven't heard anything about a possible "housing bubble." Another 12 percent have heard "only a little." Indeed, 70 percent expect home prices to keep rising, while only 5 percent think they'll slip. However, when the facets of a housing bubble are described to them, about 40 percent go on to say that the scenario is likely to occur in their area in the next three years.

101. Little Big Man
In September, as the result of a typo in a spreadsheet, Electronic Arts issues an update to Madden NFL 06 that reduces 6-foot-3, 305-pound New York Jets lineman Michael King to a height of 7 inches. The next day, EA fixes the bug -- to a chorus of complaints from customers who enjoyed watching the shin-high blocker get steamrollered by full-size players such as seven-time All-Pro linebacker Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Next: You've seen the dumbest. Now, check out the 2006 Smart List.

E-mail us your feedback on the dumbest list. Click here.

previous

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?