Dave Taylor has been involved with the online world since 1980 and
is recognized globally as an expert on both technical and business
issues. He has been published over a thousand times, launched four Internet-related
startup companies, has written twenty business and technical books and holds both an MBA and MS Ed.
He's a columnist for the Boulder Daily Camera and
Linux Journal and frequently appears
in other publications both online and in print.
Additionally, Dave maintains four weblogs:
The Business Blog at Intuitive.com,
Ask Dave Taylor,
Dave On Film,
Based in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, Dave is an award-winning speaker, sought after conference and workshop participant and
frequent guest on radio and podcast programs, as well as active member of
his community and busy single father to three children.
Biggest Business Blunders of 2006?
I received an interesting email from Eric Gertsman over at Global Fluency inviting me to ask you, my faithful readers, to pop onto his survey and vote for worst business blunder of 2006.
I'm intrigued by his choices, however, and thought it'd be fun to comment on the various selections he's made. In particular, I'm interested in which were the result of one person having bad judgment and which are the result of industry-wide stupidity...
First off, why am I not at all surprised that in our modern "mock reality TV" world that a major publisher would agree to produce and publish a book by O. J. Simpson, ostensibly about how he got away with the murder of his wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman? I know how publishing works, and this was most assuredly not just one person making a mistake. The decision to publish the book If I Did It was the result of a chain of decisions, from acquisitions editors to copy editors, publishers to group managers, legal to executive management. They should all be darn ashamed of themselves and be taking the time to really think about what's right and wrong, not what makes money. [firm: ASX:NWS]
Options backdating at companies? That's just widespread greed, there's no way around it. Every company that engages in such practice should, again, look in the mirror and ask if they'd want to invest in companies with executives such as themselves at the helm. I'm particularly disappointed in Steve Jobs, frankly. [firm: Nasdaq:AAPL]
Hewlett-Packard and its wildly inappropriate and illegal investigative techniques to try and figure out which of their board members was leaking information to the press? Gad, that's my vote for the worst of all these blunders, personally. Maybe it's because I used to work at HP and then worked with Walter Hewlett that I feel particularly close to the company, but for a cornerstone of the Fortune 500 to be saddled with a string of bad executives who make such bad decisions that they embarrass the company and fall into black ops, well, it's like some sort of bad melodrama. Except it's true. Shame, shame. [firm: Nasdaq:HPQ, commentary: 1 and 2]
Google censors itself for China. This isn't a blunder at all, in my opinion, and believing it is a blunder seems a lot like cultural imperialism, if you ask me. [firm: Nasdaq:GOOG, commentary: 3]
Wal-Mart and blogging? That's just stupid public relations, and is no different from the more recent situation with Sony having a Playstation Portable-focused blog that was ostensibly written by a kid who really wanted to get a PSP for Christmas. Fortunately, I think most people are smarter than PR folk believe and we see through this sort of transparent silliness. [ref: NYSE:WLM, commentary: 4]
Finally, Amaranth Advisors stumbling and making bad trades? That's widespread in the stock and bond industry, in my opinion, and while it's useful for BusinessWeek, Fortune, etc to publish their list of best and most successful funds, it's often far more useful to see their list of least successful funds, some of which take scary, frightening plunges into the red.
That's my two cents. My vote for worst blunder is HP's clumsy and inappropriate investigation into its Board of Directors malfeasance. What's yours?
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