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. No mas, Quepasa
Website operator Quepasa
There's nothing inherently wrong with taking an ethnic bent. In theory, it should nurture a sense of community. Facebook isn't public, so it's only natural for investors to see what one of the few pure play social networking sites is up to.
Quepasa makes it easy. The social network and gaming platform touts some of its performance metrics on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, the end result isn't flattering.
Quepasa tacked on 2.32 million registered users in January, bumping its base up to 29.5 million. Unfortunately, these appear to be cumulative registrations and not necessarily active users of Quepasa. The site generated just 17.6 million unique visits -- not visitors -- last month. In other words, the average registered user hit up to the website 0.6 times during the entire month. Quepasa brags about serving up 214 million page views in January, but that breaks out to a mere seven pages per registered user consumed all month long.
Maybe it's just me, but I like my social networks to be a bit more sticky.
I ripped Quepasa last week for its lack of engagement and monetization. The company has long-term potential, especially if its gaming platform initiatives take off, but for now the site's as un-sticky as a greased pole.
2. You've got fail
Investors weren't impressed. In fact, AOL's shares have closed lower every day since the deal was announced on Monday (a losing streak that stretches back to early last week).
Huffington may be a celebrity, but some fear that her left-leaning website will alienate some advertisers along with half of AOL's audience. Having a political bent may bring home the bacon at MSNBC and FOX, but it may get in the way of a website trying to be a portal for the masses.
There's also another speed bump here. Most of The Huffington Post's 15,000 bloggers are more than happy to contribute their opinions as free content. This dovetails perfectly with AOL's recent push to beef up cheap content, but I can't imagine all of HuffPo's contributors willing to scribe for free now that this is part of a prolific online media company. This may also send shockwaves through AOL's other blogs where vetted contributors are financially compensated for their work.
3. The song remains the shame
The cacophony is only getting louder in the music industry.
Shares of Warner Music Group
Warner posted its ninth consecutive quarterly deficit, and revenue took a 14% hit. Investors who were banking on high-margin digital revenue to save the day should be investing instead in noise-cancellation headphones. Digital revenue has actually slipped sequentially for three quarters in a row.
Can you fathom a scenario where Warner isn't worth less as an even smaller company a year from now? Me neither.
4. You may now diss the bride
The world's leading search engine introduced Google Weddings yesterday. The wedding-planning hub will arm nervous brides with tools to create websites, crank out personalized invitations, and collaborate the logistics with the bridal party through Google Docs.
Google Weddings is not an alternative to The Knot at the moment. The Knot's business is largely a lively forum for brides-to-be, a generator of leads to local service providers, and a Web-based wedding registry platform. However, aren't these all areas where Big G is likely to hit next? Google is the world's leading advertiser. It won't be able to resist the localized push for too much longer.
This is too narrow a niche to support too many players. The Knot's revenue grew a mere 6% in 2010. One can argue that this is a realm that is ripe for Google to exploit.
Note to The Knot: It's at this point where you begin seeing if there are any gentleman callers sipping lemonade on your porch.
5. The HP weigh
Fans of Palm's webOS -- wherever they may be hiding these days -- will finally get a tablet they can chew on. Hewlett-Packard
The specs are nice. The design is iPad-esque. However, you can't buy one now. For starters, you wouldn't know how much you're paying. HP isn't revealing how much these puppies will cost. You will also have to wait. HP's product page for the TouchPad simply reads "planned availability this summer."
The term "planned availability" is a euphemism. It gives HP a little wiggle room in case it has to delay the gadget. However, even if it nails an early summertime release, it's too late. The new iPads will be out. Research In Motion's
More than a year will have passed since HP's acquisition of Palm by the time the TouchPad hits the market. That's too long. HP should have hit the ground running when it acquired Palm to get its unoriginal mitts on the proprietary webOS platform.
What happened? Does HP stand for? Hold Palm? Holding Pattern? How Pitiful!
Which of these five moves do you think is the dumbest? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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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.