CNNMoney’s dumb list of 101 dumbest moments in business

CNN Money just came out with their 101 Dumbest moments in business. Dumb is defined as “dense: slow to learn or understand; lacking intellectual acuity” So genuine accidents are NOT dumb. If an idea doesn’t work, doesn’t mean that it was a dumb idea!

The list is kind of dumb - literally: it is lacking in intellectual acuity.

Their number 1 dumbest moment is Walmart’s PR campaign.

Dubbing its campaign “Candidate Wal-Mart,” the firm trumpets all manner of new Wal-Mart initiatives: improved employee health-care benefits, higher starting pay levels, new stores in downtrodden neighborhoods, reasonably priced organic foods, and a flat $4 fee for hundreds of generic prescription drugs.

Now what was so dumb about this? It was a great effort and in an election year, it made sense. Sure, Walmart’s profit dropped last year, but it had nothing to do with the PR campaign.

CNNMoney’s number 31 Goldman Sachs aggressively defended their name against an adult business with domain name goldmansex.com. That was the right thing to do; when did it become dumb to protect one’s brand name? Come again, what was dumb about this one?

Number 65: CIA advertises on Comedy Central with a tag line “Are you ready for a world of ambiguity and adventure?” This I thought was brilliant - trying to capture the hip audience that Comedy central has managed to acquire.

I think this is the dumbest thing CNNMoney has published!


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Segway, secures $10M+ in series C. Total funding $150M

Don’t count Segway off yet! I think their ATV concept has merit and it will succeed. Perhaps not enough to recover all of the $150M invested, but it will make a nice little business.

Segway was one of the most hyped products in recent memories. OK, may iPhone was a bit more hyped but it is in the same category. The value of the media attention was in the excess of $250M, some say it was close to $1B. There was an interesting Harvard business journal article about the meeting between Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos and “ginger” the code name for Segway. Jobs hated the design and Bezos suggested starting slow. Just goes to show that you can hype it as much as you want, but ultimately the product has to be something that people want. The price point wasn’t right, safety issues were not sorted out and I think the main problem was that Segway failed to evoke “desirability”.

All of these issues work in favor of Segway for the ATV market, same price point, safer, cooler, not as noisy, and may be some beaches will let you drive the Quad ATV Centaur on the wet sand. And of course there is the golf transportation sector.

They are looking for another $20M and from the regulatory filings, they already have raised $10M+ from the sale of Series C preferred stock. I want them to survive, I envision the possibility of them roaring back as a transportation vehicle of choice in 5 to 10 years.

Via PEHub


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Why is it so hard to create a micro payment system?

Its with great sadness that we see BitPass join the long list of admirable (but failed) attempts of cracking the micro payment market.

BitPass raised a total of $13M in two rounds of financing, most of it in September 2004. The investors included Worldview Technology Partners, Steamboat Ventures (the venture capital arm of The Walt Disney Company), RRE Ventures, and others. It also had a stellar slate of directors: James Robinson III, former chairman and CEO of the American Express Company and a general partner at RRE Ventures, Peter Goettner, venture partner, Worldview, and John R. Ball, managing director, Steamboat were on the board.

Over the years we have seen so many companies try different models and the failed mainly because it is so hard to get people sign up.

If one thinks about it, the phone card companies are already using the “micro payments”; after the initial purchase of the card, subsequent calls can cost just pennies and those transactions are handled very accurately. So clearly the technology exists. We also know that the transaction cost is minimal, certainly much much less than a penny each, so the only thing needed is a way to get the initial deposit going.

In this environment, Google is probably the only company that can take-on this challenge and succeed.

The mobile carriers can also succeed if they focus on the task but I doubt that they will take this on; they are too busy trying to gouge extra money from the customers rather than looking at the next big opportunity (most mobile carriers raised their fees for text messages, even though it is getting cheaper for them to provide that service.) Instead of trying to make text messages do more things, they want to make the use of text messaging so expensive that it practically useless. There are companies trying to use text messages to offer authenticated transaction, but by making the transaction cost even higher than the cost of using a credit card, the incentive for the merchant and customer to use SMS completely disapperas. I want to be able to buy a Coke using SMS, but not if it is going to cost extra $0.50 to do it.


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BuzzDash: Polls and results

BuzzDash is a site and tool for gauging popular opinion on a wide range of topics - from sports, movies and politics to relationships and philosophy. Built upon individual polling modules called buzzbites™, BuzzDash provides a real-time forum where people can solicit, measure and share opinions on nearly any issue.

BuzzDash Polls and Results:

Here are some polls from BuzzDash

1. Would you support a boycott of goods made in China?
a. Yes
b. No

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2. Paramount, DreamWorks Animation choose HD DVD. Will the tide change?
a. Yes HD DVD on the comeback
b. No Blu-ray will emerge on top

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3. Simon Cowell will leave American Idol in three years. Without him, it:
a. Will do better
b. Will be as successful
c. Will do worse

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4. NY Times online asks users to post potential terror scenarios. Okay?
a. Yes helps us prepare
b. No, gives terrorists ideas

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5. Will Clinton being a woman ultimately help her or hurt her more
a. Help her more
b. Hurt her more
c. Doesn’t have an impact

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