Over the years, there have been some unbelievably bad business decisions. Whether it be to pass on the opportunity to take on a major role or buy a company that would later become a giant, you can be sure there will be many businessmen and women regretting business decisions they’ve made in the past .
Here are SBF’s top 10 gaffes:
10. Royal Mail rebranding itself as Consignia
To go with the new millennium, Royal Mail decided to rebrand itself. After two years of head scratching, they settled upon the name Consignia in early 2001. The new name was designed to describe the full scope of what the company could do, a statement which bemused customers and analysts alike. With a year and a half, Consignia as a brand was consigned to the bin and then-chief executive John Roberts left. More than £2 million was lost by the marketing gaffe.
9. Turning down opportunity for product placement in E.T
In 1981, Universal studios offered Mars the chance to use M&Ms in their new film - this was a fairly common practice. However the brothers behind Mars weren’t impressed and declined the offer. Universal instead went to Hershey’s and agreed a deal to use a product called Reese’s Pieces. Initial sales of the product had been low, but in the two weeks after the film was released, its sales tripled and continued increasing for months.
8. Publishers who rejected Harry Potter
The first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was J.K Rowling’s real hope to hit the big time. She took it to dozens of publishers, including HarperCollins and Penguin, who were not convinced by the fantasy world that Rowling had created. Instead a small little-known publisher named Bloomsberg took it on, after the CEO’s eight-year-old daughter begged her father to print it.
7. “Drill for oil?!... you’re crazy!”
All the way back in 1859, a retired railroad conductor named Edwin Drake attempted to enlist the help of salt-well drillers in an attempt to find oil. However, the salt-well drillers were not so keen on the idea and branded Drake as “crazy!”
Drake went on to develop the first oil-drilling device, but unfortunately he decided not to patent it, opening the door for others to rush in and become overnight millionaires. Drake died in poverty and the oil-drilling industry continues to dominate the world to this day.
6. “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”
Unfortunately this ‘toy’ was in fact the first ever telephone!
Offered in 1876 to Western Union Telegraph Company for the measly sum of $100,000, the then-president derided the invention as an electrical toy with no commercial possibilities...
5. Perot’s pass on Microsoft
A businessman from Texas and two-time US presidential runner, named Ross Perot, was offered the chance to snap up Microsoft in 1979 for $60 million.
However his last offer to Microsoft was $15 million, and consequentially Perot missed out on the opportunity to own what would turn out to be one of the biggest companies in the world.
4. The man who could have been Bill Gates
Microsoft were the subject of another gaffe in 1980. This time, their decision to meet with IBM made Bill Gates the man he is today... and undoubtedly caused Kildall a lifetime of sleepless nights!
IBM had a brand new concept and required a company to supply an operating system to its invention, the personal computer. Software expert Gary Kildall was the first port of call, however he missed the meeting and went skywards: to fly his plane! Instead Bill Gates and Microsoft were approached... Microsoft is now worth approx. £170 billion (2013).
3. Excite failing to see the potential in Google
In 1996, former Excite CEO George Bell was handed the opportunity to pick up Google for $1 million. However he wasn’t quite as excited by the company and declined the purchase, even when the price was negotiated down to $750,000 by one of Excite’s venture capitalists.
Unfortunately for Bell, Google has gone on dominate the world and now has a value of over £70 billion (2013)
2. “Doing a Ratner”
Gerald Ratner, owner of Ratners Jewellers, managed to wipe £500 million of the value of his company with just one much-maligned speech in 1991.
His exact words were, “"We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, 'How can you sell this for such a low price?' I say, because it's total crap." The company very nearly collapsed and Ratner resigned approximately a year later. The group then changed its name to the Signet Group to distance itself from its former protagonist.
1. Decca Records’ decision to reject the Beatles
Two executives for Decca invited the Beatles to an audition in 1962 but they weren’t too impressed. After two weeks, they informed the band’s manager they wouldn’t sign up the group, exclaiming: "Groups are out; four-piece groups with guitars particularly are finished." The Beatles instead joined EMI Records and went on to be probably the most well-known and successful band ever.
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