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Everyone makes mistakes, but the people on this list made epic blunders that will never be forgotten. From Prohibition to the Trojan Horse, check out the top 8 worst decisions in history, in this episode of History Countdown.
Top 10 - Worst decisions in boxing history
Seeking a middleweight mega fight with 160lb king Bernard Hopkins, Oscar de la Hoya fought Felix Sturm for the German's middleweight title in 2004. Whilst people talked of the Oscar of old showing up, de la Hoya was comprehensively outworked by Sturm's stiff jab (112-58 in favour of Sturm), with Sturm the far more accurate fighter - landing 234 of 541 for a 43% connect rate against de la Hoya's 188 of 792. Harold Lederman scored 6 of the last 7 rounds for Sturm, as did Jim Lampley. The official verdict was turned in as a unanimous 115-113 on all 3 cards, whilst Sturm's title and undefeated record went to dust. Oscar went on to fight Bernard Hopkins, getting knocked out for the first time in his career from a body shot.
Mike Glienna - 115-113 OLDH
Dave Moretti - 115-113 ODLH
In 1997, George Foreman was still the lineal heavyweight champion after a controversial decision over Axel Schulz. Foreman fought fellow American Shannon Briggs - both who had reputations for being massive punchers. In yet another defiant performance, the much older Foreman was able to hurt Briggs multiple times and force him to fight on the retreat. Foreman landed at a massive 58% connect rate across the duration of the fight, but apparently it didn't matter. At the end of 12 rounds, Shannon Briggs was awarded a hugely unpopular majority decision victory, sending the 46 year old Foreman into retirement for good, with the lineal championship now belonging to Shannon Briggs - going on to lose it to Lennox Lewis just 4 months later.
Larry Layton - 117-113 Briggs
Calvin Claxton - 116-113 Briggs
Definitely not a high profile fight, but doesn't stop this from being one of the worst robberies of all time. Augustus is most likely known from giving Floyd Mayweather his toughest fight, before succumbing in 9.
"The Drunken Master" Augustus comprehensively beat Burton with ease over 10 rounds, with just about everyone except for Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder being able to score it for Burton. However, what unfurled was a shocking robbery, as Burton took a massively disputed split decision win, almost giving Teddy Atlas a seizure at ringside in the process.
Jake Jack Richards - 98-94 Augustus
Robert Paganelli - 99-90 Burton
Most of you will remember this one. Even Tim Bradley said that he "would have to watch the tape" after being questioned following this. In one of the most controversial fights in recent memory, Pacquiao, despite outlanding Bradley in 10 of the 12 rounds dropped a horrendous split decision loss. 50 of 53 scorers had the fight in favour of Pacquiao, as well as the WBO's unofficial review scoring all 5 judges for Pacquiao as well. Regardless, Bradley walked away undefeated and a WBO world champion.
Jerry Roth - 115-113 Pacquiao
Duane Ford - 115-113 Bradley
Another recent one. The winner was correct, the method of victory was hands down one of the worst in recent memory. Before the fight even started, this event set the all time gate record and all time Pay-Per-View records as the ageing Mayweather took on the rapidly rising young star in Canelo Alvarez. Many experts believed the bigger, stronger Alvarez to be able to wear Mayweather down. In one of his career best performances, Mayweather proved elusive in the ridiculous, making Alvarez miss shots to almost comical levels whilst crashing home his own shots. Now as one of the biggest Canelo fans on this sub, I'll tell you that I could watch this back on mute, in black and white, with slow motion playing it back whilst standing on one leg and wearing Stevie Wonder's glasses that this fight was not even close. Alvarez was widely beaten, with the other two cards expected to court controversy for being too close if not for CJ Ross joining a very exclusive group of just three judges ever to not score a fight for Mayweather (others being Tom Kazczmarek and Michael Pernick).
Dave Moretti - 116-112 Mayweather
Craig Metcalf - 117-111 Mayweather
In the two fights previous, A bloodied Juan Manuel Marquez climbed up off the canvas 3 times in the opening round, to come raging back to draw against Pacquiao. In the second fight, Marquez lost a one point split decision, in which he suffered a knockdown. In what was widely claimed to be the rubber match at first, both fighters wanted to put all reasonable doubt behind them and settle the score. By the end of the 12 rounds and decision, massive boos echoed out the arena, with beer, food and other items being pelted towards the ring. Pacquiao walked away a majority decision winner in the end, whilst The Ring had three of their own experts scoring it independently had it at 117-111 for Marquez. A hugely contentious decision which forced a fourth and final bout between the two.
Dave Moretti - 115-113 Pacquiao
Glenn Trowbridge - 116-112 Pacquiao
"You can make more of a claim that Holyfield won all 12 rounds, than Valuev winning 7 to win the fight". In 2008, Evander Holyfield attempted to make boxing history by beating George Foreman's record of oldest champion, as well as extend his record as only 4 time heavyweight champion, to only 5 times heavyweight champion. In contrast, Valuev outweighed Holyfield by almost 100lbs, and was expected to be too big and strong for the aging warrior. Over a mostly uneventful 12 rounds, Holyfield ouxboxed and easily beat the largely immobile and inactive Russian, seemingly easing to a win. The judges however, had other ideas - with 10-10 rounds scored and a diabolical majority decision in favour of Valuev to retain his title, prompting a WBA review into the official outcome of the fight.
Pierluigi Poppi - 116-112 Valuev
Guillermo Perez Pineda - 114-114
A whole host of errors compounded into this shitshow. In 1996, Floyd Mayweather was part of the US boxing team in Atlanta. He destroyed his opponent in the opening round, before becoming the first American in 20 years to beat a Cuban fighter in the next round. What occurred in the semi-final will live on forever in the worst decisions of all time. Mayweather completely outclassed opponent Serafim Todorov with ease, but the judges inexplicably scored it against the teenage Mayweather. The Egyptian referee raised Mayweather's hand believing him the winner, whilst the judges failed to impose a sanctioned rule by the referee's two point deduction after Todorov received FIVE warnings. If the judges had imposed the point deduction, Mayweather would have walked away a 9-8 winner. A US appeal was unsuccessfully launched, as well as a member of the committee resigning in disgust.
Couldn't find judge info on this bout
In 1999, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield met in Madison Square Garden to determine an undisputed heavyweight champion. Holyfield chased a knockout early, although it was Lewis who easily won the first two rounds. Lewis took over through the middle rounds of the fight, out boxing and out landing Holyfield, before Evander's powers of recovery came through again. Holyfield won rounds 8-11 building momentum before Lewis came back in the 12th to firmly seal his case for the undisputed championship. At the final bell, Lewis and his corner were absolutely sure of victory until the decision came in. Eugenia Williams scored it 7-5 for Holyfield and judge Larry Oɼonnell scored it 115-115 (2 even) and ruined the event. The result was met with a massive outpouring of anger and disbelief, with both the two judges who didn't score for Lewis apologised afterwards for their display. Steve Farhood called it "in the top 5 worst decisions I've ever seen. Lewis eventually rematched Holyfield and won a lopsided contest - Eugenia Williams and Larry Oɼonnell stayed away from big fights onwards.
Eugenia Williams - 115-113 Holyfield
Stanley Christodoulou - 116-113 Lewis
The worst decision of all time. In Seoul 1988, a young Roy Jones Jr dazzled his way to the finals of the light heavyweight amateur boxing final of the Olympics. His opponent was Park Si-Hun, a successful amateur himself, winning the 1985 gold cup tournament at the weight. In the fight its self, Jones absolutely annihilated and outclassed the home fighter, beating him all 3 rounds with absolute ease. Absolutely nobody thought that Park had even got close to winning. However, in possibly the most corrupt moment in the sport's history, 3 of the 5 judges scored the fight for the Korean. 1 of the judges said he did so because he felt sorry for the Korean being so badly outclassed by his American opponent, the other two were fired and banned for life from judging boxing again. This single fight led to a new scoring system implemented in the Olympics. It was literally that bad. Even Park Si-Hun apologised to Jones afterwards. He even lifted Jones up to the crowd as a winner in the ring. He EVEN raised Jones' hand on the medal podium.
3. Kodak has the first digital camera back in 1977.
Whenever technology changes the landscape of an industry, there are some businesses that adapt and thrive and others that continue doing the old thing until it's too late. For Kodak, who fell from grace due to the advent of digital camera, the situation is a little different. Kodak filed a patent for one of the first digital cameras (one that used a magnetic cassette to store images of about 100kb) back in 1977. However, Kodak made so much money on film, it didn't introduce the technology at the time to the public. Kodak continued its focus on traditional film cameras even when it was clear the market was moving to digital. When it finally got into the digital market, Kodak was selling cameras at a loss and still couldn't make strong gains against other manufacturers who had been producing digitals for years.
1 Best: Mega Man 2
Mega Man 2 isn't just the greatest game Capcom has ever made. It's the template for platformers looking to set a foundation of excellent gameplay and design. Mega Man 2 is master-class and will go down as one of the greatest video games of all-time. The franchise has seen plenty of highs and lows, but many people regard 2 as the peak of Mega Man excellence.
Mega Man 2 has inspired countless games and is responsible for setting a standard in terms of platformer gameplay and design. It's unfortunate that Capcom didn't really do much in terms of celebrating the franchise's anniversary, but gamers can get their hands on a host of Mega Man titles via the Legacy Collection on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The ports of the classic Mega Man games was handled with care and attention, which is evident in their performance on current generation hardware.
Mining is an inherently dangerous business, and the cost of extracting a given material has often included human lives. Few mining accidents have ended as joyfully as the rescue in Chile in October 2010. The worst mining disaster in U.S. history occurred on December 6, 1907, when an explosion in a coal mine in Monongah, West Virginia, collapsed the mine entrance and its ventilation system during one of the busiest parts of the work day. More than 350 miners—many of them young boys—were killed in the explosion or suffocated as poisonous gas filled the tunnels.
The worst nuclear accident in U.S. history began at 4:00 am on March 28, 1979, when an automatically operated valve in Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 reactor mistakenly closed, shutting off the water supply to the main feedwater system (the system that transfers heat from the water actually circulating in the reactor core). This caused the reactor core to shut down automatically, but a series of equipment and instrument malfunctions, human errors in operating procedures, and mistaken decisions in the ensuing hours led to a serious loss of water coolant from the reactor core. As a result, the core was partially exposed, and the zirconium cladding of its fuel reacted with the surrounding superheated steam to form a large accumulation of hydrogen gas, some of which escaped from the core into the containment vessel of the reactor building. Very little of this and other radioactive gases actually escaped into the atmosphere. Although the accident had few apparent health consequences for the surrounding population, it had widespread and profound effects on the American nuclear power industry.
The 8 Worst Mistakes Made by the Allies During World War II
Hindsight is 20/20, especially when it comes to second guessing the harrowing decisions that have to be made during wartime. But sometimes we have to be critical, if we hope to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. With that in mind, here are the most egregious blunders made by the Western Allies during the Second World War.
Above photo: Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC
A few caveats before we get started. I'm not going to include the blunders made by the Western Powers leading up to the war, nor am I going to include the mistakes made by the Russians (who were technically part of the grand alliance). Those both deserve lists of their own.
Also, I don't mean to pick on the Allies, here. Axis forces were equally blunderous — if not more so — than their enemies, especially after Hitler took command of the German army in December 1941. But as already noted, it's still worthwhile to be critical of the victorious forces.
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Finally, I made an effort to choose mistakes which spanned the entire war and all the war theatres. I also felt it important to draw-out both "high level" mistakes and those with more immediate, but brutal, impacts. Given the complexity of war, I'm not going to pretend for a moment that my list is definitive or complete You, the reader, are more than welcome to be critical in the comments and add your own.
Here's the list, ordered chronologically:
1. The Failure to Attack Germany After It Invaded Poland
One of the worst mistakes of the Second World War occurred right at its outset. When the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, both Britain and France declared war on Germany — and then promptly did nothing. Not only was this a betrayal of a trusted ally (France and Poland worked together to steal an Enigma machine , for example), it allowed Germany to walk unscathed through Poland at a time when they were ill prepared to defend themselves on two fronts (a theme that would reprise itself some five years later, the war in Italy notwithstanding).
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Image: Richard A. Ruppert via US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Indeed, Germany's generals were so afraid of an immediate counter-attack by Allied forces that they placed 46 infantry divisions — of which only 11 were fully trained — along Germany's western border. By contrast, France had, at least on paper, the ability to mobilize well over a hundred divisions, not including four divisions of the British Expeditionary Force. Indeed, as Field Marshal Erich von Manstein noted in his memoirs, Poland's situation was so dire that it's only option was to "hold out until an offensive by the Western Powers compelled the Germans to withdraw the mass of their forces from the Polish theatre." An attack that, regrettably for them, never came.
The subsequent failure to attack Germany, despite the proclamation of war, gave Germany an entire year to prepare for its attack on France. It also sent a message, whether true or not, that the Western Powers weren't prepared to intervene with any kind of military resolve. And as a final aside, as France's ultra-defensive Maginot line indicated, the country was clearly not thinking about offense. As we'll see next, its military planners were anticipating a strategic repeat of World War I.
2. The Failure to Anticipate a German Blitz Through the Ardennes
Sure, Manstein's Sickle Cut Plan may be one of the greatest strategic maneuvers of the Second World War, if not of all military history — but it takes two to tango. The French completely failed to notice the German build-up along its eastern border, thinking that the Germans would simply repeat the pattern of 1914. And when the first wave of the attack came, it most certainly appeared that way. Allied forces rushed north, only to be outflanked by the Germans to the south, resulting the the so-called Miracle of Dunkirk.
Hitler in Paris, June 23, 1940. Credit: US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
But worst of all — and this is the big mistake here — the French had no strategic reserves left to deal with the Germans now flooding in unscathed the door to Paris was wide open. The Blitzkrieg, which left the Allied forces completely dazed, caused France to fall in just six weeks.
3. America's Failure to Immediately Adopt the Convoy System
By the time the United States entered the war, the British had extensive experience dealing with German U-Boat tactics in the North Atlantic (including World War I). By sending chunks of convoys comprised of 30 to 70 ships, they stood a far better chance of avoiding detection, and then dealing with and dispatching U-Boats when they attacked. It was an anti-submarine tactic that worked the math proved it. But owing to a confluence of factors, including Admiral King's unwillingness to press the issue, and the fact that the US failed (and underestimated the need) to produce the required number of escort ships, the United States did not adopt the convoy system until May 1942. By the time the change was made, the US suffered disastrous shipping losses — two million tons lost in January and February alone.
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4. Underestimating the Japanese
History blogger Doug Stych put it this way :
Only old folks will remember this, but before World War Two the Japanese were widely regarded as sub-human barbarians incapable of original thought. Their military was regarded as a pathetic attempt to copy the obviously superior western militaries, and there was no doubt their forces would prove no match for western forces. This had many results, the first was that for the most part the Allies only had second string troops and leaders in Asia to defend against Japan. Secondly, the Allies made little effort to study the Japanese military and truly assess its capabilities. Lastly it resulted in Japan conquering more territory in the first six months of the war than any conquerer in history. That's right, the initial Japanese advance in World War Two was the greatest conquest in history. Pretty slick trick for sub-human barbarians.
Just to illustrate how racist and/or ignorant Americans were back then, it was a commonly held belief that Japanese troops couldn't see very well in the dark.
5. The Utterly Useless Raid on Dieppe
Historians are still scratching their heads over this one — as are Canadians. On August 19, 1942, 5,000 Canadian infantry, along with a thousand British troops (many of them commandos) attacked the French port of Dieppe on the English Channel Coast. It was supposedly an attempt to occupy Nazi-held land in Europe, but it ended in complete disaster. After nine hours of bitter fighting against a prepared and alert enemy, over 1,000 soldiers were dead and 2,000 taken prisoner. The resulting air battle cost the Allies 106 aircraft to Germany's 48.
Some historians speculate that it was an attempt by Churchill to show the United States how difficult an attack on European soil would be. Historian David O'Keefe claims it was actually a massive commando raid — the goal of which was to capture a Nazi Enigma machine . At the very least, it showed the Western Powers what it would take to secure a beachhead — something that wouldn't happen until D-Day some two years later.
6. FDR's Demand of "Unconditional" German Surrender
At the Allied Casablanca Conference in January 1943, US President Roosevelt gave a speech in which he demanded the "unconditional surrender" of Germany. It was an impromptu and utterly thoughtless remark that stunned a completely unsuspecting Winston Churchill. Prior to that stage, nothing had been formally decided about how to end the war — but now the die was cast.
FDR Library Photo Collection
Nazi Germany's diabolical propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, was jubilant, claiming he could never have dreamt up a more effective strategy to persuade the doomed Germans to fight to the last breath. Historians Agostino von Hassell and Sigrid Macrae write :
Goebbels's propaganda was shrieking that all Germany would be enslaved there was no alternative but to fight to the bitter end. [Allen] Dulles quickly changed his mind [about the policy of unconditional surrender]. He came to agree with the opposition that Goebbels had been handed an extraordinary coup. Backing the nation into this cul de sac could only prolong the war. He also knew about the stab-in-the-back theory promulgated by conservatives after Versailles—namely that Germany had not really lost the war militarily, but that revolutionaries and democrats on the home front had stabbed the army in the back. Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff had an interest in camouflaging the German defeat, and blamed it on insufficiently patriotic factions on the home front. Hitler had exploited this theory expertly.
Indeed, the demand of unconditional surrender does much to explain the fanatical resistance exerted by the Germans in the weeks and days leading up to the end of the war. And the infamous Morgenthau plan didn't help either — the plan to de-industrialize Germany after the war and turn it into an agrarian state.
7. The Failure to Seize the Early Initiative At Anzio
By early 1944, the German forces fighting in Italy were forced back along their Winter Line. Eager to restore mobility to the Italian Campaign, Allied commanders drummed-up Operation Shingle — an amphibious landing in the area of Anzio and Nettuno designed to outflank German forces and enable an attack on Rome. The invasion got off to a good start on January 22, 1944, catching the Germans by surprise — but the immediate objective of outflanking the Gustav Line completely failed. And that's when things got ugly, resulting in a World War One-like battlescape that Hitler himself called the "Anzio abscess."
During the four months of bitter fighting, the Anzio Campaign cost the Allies over 66,200 casualties (of which 37,000 were noncombat casualties). German figures were comparable.
The US Center of Military History offers its final analysis :
Anzio failed to be the panacea the Allies sought. As General Lucas repeatedly stated before the landing, which he always considered a gamble, the paltry allotments of men and supplies were not commensurate with the high goals sought by British planners. He steadfastly maintained that under the circumstances the small Anzio force accomplished all that could have been realistically expected. Lucas' critics charge, however, that a more aggressive and imaginative commander, such as a Patton or Truscott, could have obtained the desired goals by an immediate, bold offensive from the beachhead. Lucas was overly cautious, spent valuable time digging in, and allowed the Germans to prepare countermeasures to ensure that an operation conceived as a daring Allied offensive behind enemy lines became a long, costly campaign of attrition.
8. The Premature and Overly Ambitious Operation Market Garden
This is the military engagement that Bernard Montgomery haters love to hate. Immortalized in the classic film, A Bridge Too Far, it was an airborne attack deep in Germany's rear areas that commenced in mid-September 1944. The plan was to send airborne troops along a narrow corridor extending approximately 80 miles (128 km) into Holland from Eindhoven northward to Arnhem.
Recreation of the massive parachute drop from A Bridge Too Far
The troops were supposed to secure bridges across a number of canals as well as across three major water barriers. But the troops were met by ferocious resistance each step of the way and quickly became overextended. By the end of the conflict, Allied troops lost somewhere between 15,300 to 17,000 troops, while the Germans may have suffered as little as 3,300 casualties (though estimates are incomplete, and could be as high as 13,000). When planning for Market Garden, the Allied leaders were clearly overconfident, riding high on their recent successes, while mistakenly thinking the Germans were done. It became very clear at this point that the war would not be over by Christmas.
This is, of course, an incomplete and highly subjective list. Many other "blunders" may belong on this list, including the failure at Kasserine Pass, the inability of the US and British to produce quality tanks (and in the case of the latter nation, effective anti-tank guns), Churchill's untimely decision to send troops to Greece in 1940, General Mark Clark's failure to cut off the German Army in Operation Diadem, the various mistakes made early-on in France after D-Day, the US habit of sending inexperienced troops directly to the front lines, and on and on.
More controversially (and conceptually), there's Eisenhower's failure to prevent the German evacuation from Sicily and his reluctance to beat the Soviets to Berlin. Some would even argue that the Allies made the mistake of not continuing to take the fight to the Soviets, thus preventing the rise of the Iron Curtain, and quite possibly the Cold War. But given how strong the Soviets were at that point, such a decision would have led to certain disaster — with Stalin pushing into France and claiming all of Europe for himself. But then again, the Americans were on the verge of developing the atom bomb. So many considerations.
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Great article. I'll bite and give a few blunders of the Axis:
1 - German invasion of Russia. Obviously this had catastrophic consequences for Germany. The large majority of Germans who fought and died in WW II did so in the East. Germany picked a fight with Russia it had little chance of winning.
2 - Japan attacking the US. Again, the Japanese (despite their 6 months of running wild) had no chance of beating the US. But they likely could have pressed their war in China and won huge territorial gains there w/out provoking the US to war. They could have harnessed these resources and continued to build up their naval power to the point that the US probably would have agreed to spheres of influence in the Pacific for the Japanese in exchange for peace.
3 - Hitler stopping the tanks at Dunkirk. Obviously.
4 - Kursk. A huge commitment of scarce German military resources in a battle of little strategic value (as Guderian tried to explain to Hitler prior to the battle). These resources and new technologies (the Panther) would have been better served on the defensive. Conserving strength and supply lines to allow a negotiated peace.
5 - Not finishing off the British in Africa. This is related to invading Russia. There is a plausible argument that the Germans could have won WW II if they had not invaded Russia, and instead put all their effort into the North African theater. I don't think there is any doubt that a complete effort by the Germans and Italians would have pushed the Brits out of North Africa, shut off the Mediterranean sea, and shut down the vital Suez Canal, at a fraction of the cost of Barbarossa. Continued advances against meager opposition could have secured middle eastern oil and even threatened India, likely forcing the British to agree to peace.
When Greece went to war with Turkey in 1921, they appointed General Hajianestis to lead the campaign. A politician rather than a soldier, Hajianestis used his yacht at Smyrna as a headquarters, so that he could command in comfort and visit local restaurants.
Hajianestis was mad as well as decadent. He spent periods of time lying still, convinced that he was dead. At other times he believed his legs were made of glass and would shatter if he got out of bed. Even when sane, his orders were a contradictory mess.
The Worst Business Decisions Of All Time: 24/7 Wall St.
In the long history of poor management decisions made at major American companies, only a few proved to be fatal. It is hard to ruin a company with a single decision. That is especially true when the company has the advantages of huge market share, large and rising revenue, and a history of success. But not all bad decisions are created equal. 24/7 Wall St. set out to identify the worst business decisions of all time. These decisions cost these companies billions of dollars and, eventually, their independence.
Bad business decisions result in financial loss. The worst business decisions lose companies billions in revenue. Our editors relied on Fortune magazine’s annual list of the largest 500 companies ranked by revenue to identify the companies that were the biggest in America and, as a result, capable of losing the most money.
To make the initial cut, companies had to be on the Fortune 100 list for at least 10 consecutive years and then drop off the top 100 ranking for good. We then looked for the companies that made a single identifiable decision that cost them significant revenue and ultimately led to their decline. Based on this cut, 24/7 Wall St. identified the eight companies that suffered from the worst business decisions of all time.
Inclusion at the top of the Fortune 500 is hard to get, but, once won, it is also hard to lose. Nearly three-quarters of 2012’s 100 largest companies have been in the top 100 for at least a decade. This includes 23 that have been there for a quarter century, as well as 13 companies that have been on the list since it debuted in 1955. Even if a company falls out of the top 100, it usually remains a large company for a long time. Seventy companies from the original Fortune 100 are still somewhere on the Fortune 500 list.
Most bad business decisions are not fatal. General Motors Co. has made several mistakes, none as harmful as the decision to continue to manufacture large vehicles when the market was trending toward smaller cars. These poor judgment calls led to GM’s bankruptcy in 2009, but with the help of a government bailout it remains in the Fortune 100 today. This is not the case with the companies on this list. The decisions made at these companies eventually ruined each of them.
The worst bad decisions fall into three categories. The managements of Lehman Brothers and Firestone were simply reckless. Leading up to the housing collapse, Lehman executives overleveraged the investment bank, far more than any other large financial institution. Firestone hastily tried to expand into production of a new kind of tire. Both companies ignored internal warnings that their decisions were highly risky.
In the case of Kodak and Motorola, management missed tectonic shifts in their industries until it was too late. Motorola held on to its old cellphone business too long, failing to leverage its Razr brand or couple it with a smartphone until the brand had lost its relevance. Kodak, which actually held a patent for digital cameras well before they were mass produced, eventually was left behind by other digital camera manufacturers like Fuji and Sony Corp. that moved quickly to establish market dominance.
Kmart, meanwhile, showed a general lack of foresight. The retailer failed to create modern supply chain management that could support an increase in customers, something it should have expected following its price war with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and aggressive advertising.
To identify the worst business decisions of all time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed all Fortune 500 companies since 1955 that have, at any point, been in the top 100 for at least 10 years, but were no longer among them in 2012. A company needed to have either filed for bankruptcy protection or been acquired. The declines in the company’s fortunes also had to have been traced to one identifiable bad decision. For each of these companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed revenue and sales data, obtained from Capital IQ, as well as stock price performance.
Here are the worst business decisions of all time, according to 24/7 Wall St.:
8 of the worst business decisions ever made
Even the most innovative and entrepreneurial companies can miss the mark when it comes to the decision of whether to cash in or cash out of a business opportunity. From the company that turned down the opportunity to buy Google for less than $1 million, to Blockbuster rejecting a proposal to join forces with Netflix, some costly decisions have been decided at the negotiating table.
We teamed up with the guys over at Betway Casino and together looked closer at eight of the worst business decisions ever made. These negotiations had some of the most expensive consequences, undoubtedly leading to some very difficult boardroom conversations later
Top Eight Decisions That Changed the United States
Why the “Top Eight?” Because there are too many “Top Ten” lists published on the web today. If you can’t say what you have on your mind in eight then don’t even try to strain your wrists typing, I say. This is a fast paced, take no prisoners culture we live in. My contribution is to save you some time by eliminating two places on the list. With that stated, I know people have many decisions that need to made throughout the day. Here are my most influential decisions that changed America’s destiny.
1. The decision to sign the Declaration of Independence.
The document states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These are just words until people back it up by putting names to it. I consider this to be the most significant of decisions because it was made by a group of founding fathers that put the country on a course toward separation from England and the monarchy. Fifty six people signed the document including two future presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Benjamin Franklin at 70 years was the oldest to sign. John Hancock was the most famous. Several other lesser-known signers had just as much to lose, if not more, by signing the document. Many authors have penned various reasons why this group signed the declaration. Some did it for freedom, others for business and financial incentives, and still others signed it because they were aware they were creating something that would last through the centuries Signing the declaration achieved several purposes. The declaration moved the colonies in the direction towards independence. And as a bonus, it agitated the British even more. If the declaration wasn’t signed, the colonies may have eventually won its freedom from England but it might have taken many more years and the results may not have been as generous.
2. The decision to pass and sign the Civil Rights Act. Most citizens are aware of, and some even remember, the 1964 civil right acts signed by President Lyndon Johnson. President Johnson used some of his trademark Johnson charm to get it passed through the legislature. It continued what Congress started years earlier. Congress passed the original civil rights act in 1866 and it declares that, “all persons shall have the same rights…to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws…” This was followed by the 14 th Amendment in 1868 that stated, “”All persons born or naturalized in the US…are citizens…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law nor deny to any person…the equal protection of the laws.” This led to the 19 th Amendment, passed in 1920, giving people the right to vote regardless of sex.
President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act that provided more rights. These, among others, are, “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion. Prohibits public access discrimination, leading to school desegregation.” The 1866 Civil Rights Act started America down the righteous path toward true equality..
3. The decision to secede from the union. This is more of a collective decision by several powerful people. The Southern states’ decision to secede from the union produced a chain of events that eventually led to the abolishment of slavery, a stronger Federal Government, General William T. Sherman’s march through the south, and finally, the actual end of the Southern slave holding culture. According to most civil war scholars, at the end of the war, Americans began referring to themselves as being from the “United” States rather than from a particular state such as Virginia or New York. If secession hadn’t happened, it could be argued the South would have negotiated to retain some of their states rights and kept slavery in tact. Instead, southern leaders voted for secession and lost their way of life.
4. The decision to buy the Louisiana Territory. America’s RV enthusiasts wouldn’t get the thrill of driving across the fruited plane today if it hadn’t been for Thomas Jefferson taking advantage of Napoleon’s urge to conquer Europe on a shoestring budget.
At 3 cents an acre, Thomas Jefferson struck a great real estate deal at 15 million dollars for more than 800,000 acres in 1803. The deal covers what is now Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and two Canadian provinces. What is intriguing about the deal is that President Jefferson originally intended for the team of James Monroe and Robert Livingston to just purchase the Port of New Orleans from France for 10 million dollars. However, Napoleon Bonaparte wanted to limit England’s influence in America and he needed money to refill his government coffers after his wars. For these reasons, he offered the Jefferson team the whole territory for 5 million more. Sometimes the stars align and a business deal just falls into place.
5. The decision by President Truman to use the Atom Bomb.
The diplomacy game changed when the United States used the Atomic Bomb to end WWII. It was the first time a weapon of that magnitude and it let the world’s leaders know that the US government would use this type of weapon if needed to end a War. On the negative side, the development and use of the Atomic Bomb began the build up of globally destructive warheads. This was a cloud that future generations had to live under while growing up. President Harry S.Truman wasn’t even given the knowledge that the bomb was being built until he was sworn into the office. That was kept secret from him by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, most likely due to “need to know” security procedures. Before the bomb was used, the Japanese proved to the world they would not surrender easily. The Battle of Okinawa, an island south of the mainland, proved to President Truman and the military that the Japanese military upper hiearchy would fight to the end to save their empire and their culture. The fact that the US had to use two bombs tells us that fact. President Truman didn’t take the decision lightly. He thought about the repurcussions for days. Once he made the decision though, he never second-guessed himself.
6. The decision to serve only two terms by President Washington.
President George Washington set an important precedent by stepping down after two terms as the Chief Executive. Future Presidents followed his decision to leave office after two terms despite nothing being written in the Constitution about the subject.. President Thomas Jefferson served two terms as the third President but chose to step down voluntarily. This verified the tradition. It didn’t become an issue until President Grant thought about serving a third term. Congress denounced the idea because it broke with the tradition set by Washington. He, however, stood ready to be drafted in 1875 and 1880 but the republican convention chose other candidates. President Franklin Roosevelt ultimately broke the tradition by serving a third term in 1940 due to the onset of WWII. He was elected in 1944 but didn’t finish his fourth term. Afterwards, Congress passed the 22 nd Amendment limiting the President to two terms with an exemption for the current President Truman. Truman declined to run for a third term. Congress introduced bills to repeal the 22 nd Amendment during President Ronald Reagan’s term and while President Bill Clinton was in office but they both failed to pass the legislative branch. President Washington was wary of monarchies and dictatorships so his stepping down after 8 years in 1797 was a product of that thinking. Besides he was tired of the criticism brought on by the office and wanted to retire to Mount Vernon. .
7. The decision to fund the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways bill. The nation’s highways as we know them today began in 1938 with the passing of the Federal Highway Act. It called for a toll based 26,700-mile interregional highway network with three highways running south to north and three more running east to west. In the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944, the Congress acted on these recommendations. The act called for “designation of a National System of Interstate Highways, to include up to 40,000 miles “… so located, as to connect by routes, direct as practical, the principal metropolitan areas, cities, and industrial centers, to serve the National Defense, and to connect at suitable points.” These acts didn’t specifically spell out how the system would be funded so the construction was slow. Here’s where President Eisenhower comes in. He led a team that figured out how to fund the highway system to build highways as the citizens of the United States know them today. The Department of Transportation documents make it clear that The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1952 authorized the first funding specifically for system construction. Under President Eisenhower, the system funding was created so it wouldn’t increase the federal budget much. This is where the vehicle tax and gas tax enter the picture. With the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 it increased the system’s proposed length to 41,000 miles. From there we have several highways running west to east and north to south, with the longest running highway being I-90 at 3020.54 miles from Boston, Mass., to Seattle, Washington. The highway system has aided interstate commerce as well as the tourism industry. It has provided a means for families and individuals to view the landscape of the United States as well as being the catalyst for many a sibling feud in backseats.
8. The decision to Land on the Moon. The decision to explore space and reach to other worlds began with the Eisenhower administration and the Mercury program. The goal became focused when President Kennedy gave a speech on May 25 th , 1961 to a special joint session of congress and stated the goal of sending an American safely to moon and return to earth before the end of the decade.
Much of the decision involved cold war politics with the Soviet Union but also healthy dose of American bravado spirit. However, Kennedy consulted with his vice president and the NASA chief and determined that the US had a good chance of beating the Soviets to moon. The space program created many benefits that people use today. The advancement in electronics and computers ushered in solid-state electronics. In addition to these developments, according to NASA’s official government website, insulation technology developed by NASA engineers is used for thermal blankets. These are just some of the many benefits the space program has yielded since its inception. Finally, Americans could boast that we were the first to land on the moon but in the name of “mankind” of course.
These are my top eight decisions. I am sure there are people who disagree. It was tough just to narrow it down to eight. Let me know your top eight. .