Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Over the past few months, I've chronicled some of the dumbest moves publicly traded companies have made each week. Since we're kicking off the new trading year today, I figured I would begin by looking at five of the dumbest moves that made the cut in my weekly column in 2008.
1. Next of Kindle
What if Amazon.com
The leading online retailer fumbled its handling of its e-book reader over the holidays. A month after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pitched the Kindle on Oprah Winfrey's show, the company ran out of the $359 devices by late November, just days before the start of the critical holiday shopping season.
Amazon may have profited from third-party resellers moving marked-up Kindles through its site, but asking potential buyers to wait "11 to 13 weeks" for deliveries cuts against the grain of digital delivery's speed and convenience. Even if Amazon is simply holding back until Kindle 2.0 is launched, it either underestimated the power of Oprah, or underestimated its ability to sell the gizmo.
2. Not so Lively anymore
The crime here is that Lively had potential. There was something slick about decking out a virtual pad with televisions playing one's favorite YouTube videos. If Google wants in on new ways to move advertising, Lively could have been the ideal launching pad. We may never know what forced the change. Since Google was so quick with the hook, it may never know, either.
3. The e-journalist stinger
In a move to save on programming costs, Sirius XM Radio
Sirius XM should have anticipated the negative feedback it would receive. After all, its subscribers have grown used to deep playlists on genre-specific channels. Did it really think that music fans would simply stomach the changes?
Sirius XM eventually retreated on a few of the cancellations, but the damage was done. Sirius and XM are now less distinctive from one another.
4. Silly press releases
I took a few press releases to task over the course of the year. Here are some of the real whoppers.
"TiVo reports record profitability for the third quarter," was the earnings release headline from DVR pioneer TiVo
"Achieving increased fourth quarter earnings is a significant accomplishment considering the challenging environment," said Carnival
5. Ballot ballet
Yahoo! executives figured they caught a break when proxy-vote-tallying firm Broadridge Financial Solutions
CEO Jerry Yang reportedly received 85.4% of the votes for re-election, while Chairman Roy Bostock had the support of 79.5% of Yahoo! investors. If only it stuck. A rare truncation error had botched the results. Broadridge sheepishly had to admit that Yang and Bostock received only 66.3% and 60.4% of the vote, respectively.
The hosed-down numbers didn't alter the results, but they did hint at the poor approval ratings. A few months later, Yang announced that he was stepping down.
Bring on the insanity, 2009. I'm ready.
Let's beat the dumb drum:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of dumb and smart business moves. Investors can learn plenty from both. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.