Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Even respectable companies can catch it. As I do every week, let's take a look at five dumb financial events this week that may make your head spin.
1. Calling all milkaholics
Lindsay Lohan is suing E*TRADE
Lohan is suing the online broker over its ad from last month's Super Bowl, in which a toddler named Lindsay is referred to as a "milkaholic."
It's a bit of a stretch, and it may very well be the mother of all publicity stunts to get Lohan some media attention. After all, Lindsay is a very popular name. It's even the name of a publicly traded irrigation specialist.
Besides, maybe it's just me, but I would think that being called a milkaholic would be a compliment. Calcium does a body good.
2. The time traveler's strife
I love Netflix
Netflix agreed to the plan in January under the assumption that delaying releases by 28 days after the local rental stores and video on demand companies offer the same movies would somehow benefit subscribers. We know why Time Warner inked the deal. It claims to sell 75% of its DVDs in the first four weeks on the market, and it would prefer not to compete with the devaluing value proposition of Netflix's unlimited rentals.
However, Netflix made the deal palatable to subscribers by pointing out that since Time Warner would be providing DVDs at a reduced price, Netflix would order more discs. Well, the second flick under the agreement -- The Time Traveler's Wife -- became available through Netflix this week. The company has been shipping it out since Monday. As of last night, it's still listed as "Long Wait" in my queue.
I don't see the point in suing Netflix -- as a Manhattan woman is doing. However, this is a lousy business decision on Netflix's behalf and its implementation is apparently even worse. If Netflix were smart, it would at least offer up the list of Warner Home Video flicks that are now available for instant viewing as a result of this deal.
3. Four words that Google will regret
Good luck with that, Big G. It's a noble effort, but it's not as if Google has a whole lot of leverage here. It's China's turf, and Google already bends to the whims of other countries. However, speaking to reporters this week on the state of its negotiations with Chinese regulators, CEO Eric Schmidt almost set an ultimatum.
"Something should happen soon," he said.
Really? Soon? I can't see Google leaving the world's most populous nation. I also can't see China caving to the away team. Either scenario would be a shocker, meaning that the status quo -- or nothing -- is the only thing that should really be happening soon.
4. Bartz and sciences
Yahoo! is losing market share at the expense of Google and Microsoft's
Shrinking in share isn't necessarily dumb. Yahoo! makes this list because it agreed to outsource chunks of its search business to Microsoft last year. Obviously, this sends the wrong message to loyal users, who will feel less attached to Yahoo! as a search engine once it begins to spit out Bing-flavored results.
5. Dumb ex-CEO quotes
Beleaguered music label EMI is losing its CEO. Prerecorded music chief Elio Leoni-Sceti is leaving after leading the label for less than two years.
"My job is now done," Leoni-Sceti wrote in an email to EMI's staff on Wednesday, as passed on by The Wall Street Journal. "The company is operationally on a solid track, contrary to what is reported, the creative momentum is very strong, and I thought it was time for me to move on."
Solid track? Really? This week alone, the label parted ways with the band OK Go after its lead singer slammed EMI's video-sharing rigidity, and it lost a legal battle with Pink Floyd over digital delivery. Oh, and the private equity firm that bought EMI in 2007 is in a legal tussle with Citigroup
This isn't a solid track. It's a slippery slope.
Which of these five moves do you think is the dumbest? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days. That certainly wouldn't be a dumb move.
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, except for Netflix. 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.