Dumb and Dumber
By Josh Quittner/Editor

(Business 2.0) – The smartest thing I ever did was dumb. When I joined Business 2.0 two years ago, I had my doubts about our annual "101 Dumbest Moments in Business" feature. With the economy in the dumps and war on the horizon, was anyone in a laughing mood? Executive editor Adam Horowitz argued that a clever take on the year's dumbest business moves would make our readers smarter--by showing you what not to do. So we kept "Dumbest" alive.

How smart was I to listen to Horowitz? After last year's edition came out, readers devoured it, it rocketed around the Web, and TV crews from the Netherlands showed up looking to interview our writers. We also started getting calls from book publishers. In the end, Horowitz teamed up with Business 2.0 contributors Mark Athitakis and Mark Lasswell to put out our first book, The Dumbest Moments in Business History (Portfolio, $19.95), which arrives on bookshelves Feb. 2. It documents everything from an 18th-century inventor's electric Viagra to the brief, painful saga of e-tailer Boo.com.

The perfect companion to the book, of course, is the fourth annual edition of "101 Dumbest," on page 72. Horowitz, Athitakis, and Lasswell joined up with senior reporter Owen Thomas to find 2003's most head-smacking moments. My favorite: Chrysler's ill-fated decision to sponsor the Lingerie Bowl. I could see myself making the same mistake, if Business 2.0 sponsored bowl games.

The past year in business wasn't all dumb. On the magazine's back page, we've highlighted the smartest moves of 2003. In What Works (page 47), you can read how Anheuser-Busch now sells more than half the beer in the United States, thanks to a computer network that guzzles data faster than you can down a brewski. And in "12 Hot Startups" (page 93), you'll learn about innovative companies poised to change the business world. Will they succeed? We'll see. Risk is inevitable--including the chance that we'll all have a good laugh when it's over.

JOSH QUITTNER, EDITOR jquittner@business2.com