These 17 stories of companies making decisions SO BAD that the company went under (or at minimum the CEO got fired) are so stupid they're funny, and you might even learn something along the way.
This company owned Park City resort in Utah had a lease on the land for $155,000 per year (a small amount for a multi-million dollar business!). In 2012 the company had the option to extend the lease for 20 years, locking in that great bargain, but somehow they completely forgot! They sent a letter two days too late, and now the resort is owned by Vail Resorts which bought it out after a long legal battle.
Remember the bookstore Borders? It went completely out of business in 2011, and a huge part of that likely came at the hand of its biggest competitor: Amazon. Borders made a terrible decision way back in 2000 to actually let Amazon (which was innovating the online and ebook industry) control all of its online book sales. They gave themselves away to their competitor, how silly.
Yay, MySpace. At least that's what everyone was thinking originally, until Rupert Murdoch bought it. He paid $580 million for it in 2005 and then proceeded to overrun the place with ads. They were too intrusive and simply drove everyone away to the new Facebook. He sold it later for $35 million, less than 10% of his original investment.
Michael Birch and his wife Xochi Birch sold the once popular social network Bebo to AOL for $850 million dollars. It had a huge UK user base and had great potential at the time. AOL really messed up the direction of the site entirely, and ended up selling Bebo right back to the Birches five years later for only $1 million. There may be great plans for the Bebo brand in the future, but they aren't out yet.
Kodak had over 85 percent of the film and camera business by the late 1970s. But it will never be quite as powerful due to a huge mistake. Kodak actually invented digital photography in the '70s, but company execs were too scared to move away from traditional film. Now digital cameras and smartphones prevail for photography. Kodak isn't dead, but compared to what it once was, it's close enough.
A restaurant called Tokyo-Tokyo in the Phillipines offered unlimited rice with every meal, drawing in huge crowds regularly. But then in a cost-cutting move, the company briefly ended the deal. Their customer base shrank, and even after re-introducing the free rice, the company never quite recovered.
In 1991, jeweler Gerald Ratner gave a speech that would soon have a business concept called the "Ratner Effect" named after him. "'How can you sell this for such a low price?' I say, 'because it's total crap.'" Calling his own product crap resulted in his business losing 500 million British pounds in value, nearly completely taking out the business, and forced him to resign the next year.
Blockbuster made a HUGE mistake by refusing to buy Netflix for a mere $50 million. Blockbuster thought surely the DVD-by-mail service was never going to work, and stuck to its in-store physical movie rental service, hoping to cling to profits on late fees. Now Netflix is worth billions and billions, and Blockbuster has faded away after filing bankruptcy and closing almost all of its stores.
Netflix wasn't always perfect either. Not long ago, they came up with the idea of splitting their DVD and online streaming services. Qwikster was a spinoff company formed to handle the DVD mailing service. People were outraged and hated having to use two different services for their movies, and fortunately for Netflix they made a smart decision to kill Qwikster within a month of its launch.
Enron of course had numerous problems and forms of illegal activity that led to its demise. One of the funniest, however, was its policy to pay executives for simply coming up with an idea regardless of whether they actually used it. The conversation likely went, "It would be great if I could get paid for all these great ideas I can't implement." "How about we do that then?" "That's an amazing idea! Have a bonus!"
Digg was similar to Reddit in that it used votes to show users the best news articles from around the web. One update to the site in particular killed it though: They made it so that sponsored posts and top-user submitted content was waaay too common and flooded people's feeds, causing users to go on a mass exodus to the now-huge site Reddit. Some form of Digg still sits out there, with a tiny userbase compared to what it once was.
Some may remember the popular show "Fear Factor." It was revived late 2011, only to be canceled again in May of 2012. The reasons were varied, but a likely huge part was a lawsuit that developed from the show's decision not to air an episode titled "Hee Haw! Hee Haw!" in which contestants had to drink donkey semen.... disgusting.
Western Union is known now for money-transfer services, but it didn't used to be that way. It was a telegram service first. Alexander Graham Bell offered to sell Western Union the telephone for $100,000 (a lot at the time), and they laughed it off. If only they knew the future would be completely filled with almost nothing but telephones.
The SciFi channel used to be great at doing exactly what the name suggests: providing good science fction content. Then it changed its name to SyFy and became too "cute," running more reality TV type shows. They might be going back to their roots soon, but for now they're driving themselves into their own grave.
Sears used to be part of the backbone of America with its department stores and catalogs. But in recent years CEO Eddie Lampert laid off tons of employees, cut back on expenses to the point of crippling its stores, and pit the workers against each other for benefits and bonuses. Sears lost half of its value and closed over half its stores in only five years.
Osborne Computer is the reason you will never know about that new iPhone until right before it releases. When Osborne started telling people far too early about how cool the SECOND Osborne computer would be, no one bought the first one anymore! The company never got to finish the second computer because it ran out of money due to no sales of the first computer and went out of business.
Circuit City is known today as somewhat of an afterthought business. A huge part of this is that back in 2000, it decided for some reason to stop selling appliances (a very stable market!) and decided to focus solely on consumer electronics like TVs. That didn't work out too well... They also fired every employee who was making a higher than average wage! So all the good employees got fired... Terrible decision.