1. Sleeping Motorola
Before smart phones were the norm, Motorola was in command of the cell phone business. However, they were slow to release their version a smart phone and by the time they entered the market, iPhone and BlackBerry were already killing the competition in sales.
Motorola was focusing on factors such as the physical shape of the phone rather than customer experience. At its peak, the company raked in $43.7 billion in revenues. The company’s shares fell more than 90% from $107 to $13 from October 2006 – March 2009. While its sleek and stylish Razr phones dominated the market, Motorola had around 22% of the market share, but their lack of initiative cost them dearly.
Motorola is currently owned by Google and the search engine giant is looking to help the phone company reclaim its throne.
2. Quaker Oats Snaps Snapple
Quaker Oats’ decision to snap up Snapple proved to be a disaster. Snapple was already in free fall when Quaker purchased the company for $1.7 billion, $1 billion more than the company was rumored to be worth.
Immediately, Quaker bungled the drink’s branding. Snapple distributors got 33% profit, which was twice the industry average. Quaker cracked ironclad distribution contracts – some had no expiration dates – by dangling the lure of another one of their products, Gatorade. The distributors would surrender big supermarkets and chain stores and in return be rewarded with Gatorade on the routes they kept. Quaker was shocked when they balked at the offer. Distribution got so bad that stock began to pile up and had to be dumped at dollar stores or landfills.
Quaker fired what was left of Snapple staff. Sponsors were let go and advertising atrophied. By 1996, free Snapple was being given away on the street and sales continued to collapse. Quaker raised its white flag, selling the brand to Triarc for $300 million, or $1.4 billion less than they had paid for it just 28 months before.
3. Western Union – Don’t Need No Phone!
In 1877, Alexander Graham Bell offered the patent for the telephone to Western Union for $100,000. Western Union president William Orten refused to buy the new invention since he already had a monopoly on the telegram. He said in a letter to Bell that the phone didn’t seem to have any commercial possibilities and added that the “electrical toy” was of no use to the company. His decision has certainly immortalized him for all the wrong reasons.
4. Coca Cola’s New Formula: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!
In order to commemorate their centennial anniversary in 1985, Coca Cola introduced New Coke. New Coke had a slight change in taste, but most of its formula was the same. However, the decision didn’t bode too well with the customers and sales dropped by 20%, leading the company to question if the gravitational pull of earth was responsible for the sharp decline. They returned to the old formula soon after.
5. Fox Wants Profits Now; We Don’t Care About The Future
We are sure that the senior board members at 20th Century Fox still can’t get to sleep properly. When George Lucas decided to take a pay cut of $20,000 in exchange for all the merchandising rights for the Star Wars franchise (and the rights to the sequels as well) Fox jumped at the offer to save some bucks. Since then, the Star Wars movies have grossed over $4 billion in DVD and VHS sales, and the merchandise has raked in $12 billion in revenue. To be fair to Fox, merchandising wasn’t very lucrative at that time. Their decision cost them dearly though.
6. That’s Not Music To The Ears!
Before the Beatles became the best band of all time they were getting rejected left, right and center! When the band auditioned for Decca Records, they didn’t get the response they were hoping for. A Decca talent exec told the band’s manager that he wasn’t fond of the boys’ sound and added the era for boy bands strumming the guitar was over. What happened next is history – the band went on to sell over 2 billion albums worldwide and continue to do so till this day.
7. Kodak’s Lack of Urgency
Can you picture anyone with a Kodak camera in 2014? It’s hard, isn’t it? In a parallel universe, teens would be pestering their parents to buy them the new Kodak smart phone or digital camera instead of the iPhone.
Well, the aforementioned scenarios could have been a possibility had Kodak shown some urgency and initiative while it was at the top of its game. The company is credited as being the first to hold the patent for digital photography back in 1975, but thought that the best move forward would be not to move at all and didn’t pursue a future involving digital photography until it was much too late. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in January 2012.
8. We Are Not Buying Google For $750,000
The company Excite passed on the opportunity to buy Google for $750,000 back in 1999.
It has been reported that Google founders Larry Page, and Sergey Brin was talked into selling their company to Excite for $1 million. Luckily for them, Excite CEO George Bell didn’t think too highly of their company and turned down the offer to purchase it for $750,000. The company which wasn’t even valued at $750,000 is currently valued at $170 billion today.
9. Blockbuster Rejected Netflix for $50 Million
In 2000, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings asked Blockbuster execs to publicize Netflix in their stores. In exchange, Netflix would help Blockbuster sell their brand online. The executives were quick to shut the door on Hastings and company and have undergone a terrible change of fortune since that day.
Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010. They certainly didn’t foresee that their decision not to buy Netflix for $50 million would bite them right in the ass.
10. Ross Perrot Passes on Microsoft
Back in 1979 when Bill Gates was just a 23-year-old yet to achieve billionaire status, Ross Perot refused to match his asking price of $40 million for Microsoft. Perot thought it was too steep, especially for a company yet to reach its peak.
According to Forbes magazine, Microsoft currently has a market capital of $343.