Top 10 attempts at corporate suicide

Doing a Ratner

17 Feb 2012

When Gerald Ratner stood up and proudly declared that his products could be sold cheaply because "it's total crap", it showed just how quickly you could take a decent company and flush it down the toilet. Since then, other executives don't seem to have learned a thing and, through their actions, have made bold attempts at committing corporate suicide, some with more success (or lack of success, we guess) than others. Here's our top list.

10. Steve Jobs, Apple

When the iPhone 4 came out there was mass excitement, until all the reports started coming in that holding the phone, say to make a call, could seriously affect reception.

It takes a lot for Apple to damage the goodwill it gets from its users, but Steve Jobs came close when his reply to a concerned owner was, "Just avoid holding it that way." In the end Apple partially relented and gave away free bumper cases to iPhone 4 answers. With $100bn in the bank, it's safe to say that Jobs and co avoided any serious comeback on this one.

Steve Jobs

So, you just hold the phone in a perfectly natural manner, like this, and making a call is easy.

9. Scott McNealy, Sun

Back in 1999, Sun Microsystems was one of the biggest tech companies in the world, with sales of its high-end servers going through the roof thanks to the dot-com boom. It was rather surprising, then, that he decided to tell a bunch of journalists worried by privacy concerns online that, "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it."

It was a shocking statement from someone supposedly in charge of selling hardware and software that should really enable privacy. Still, McNeally and Sun weathered this storm until the dot-com bubble popped and the market was flooded with second-hand high-end Sun servers, demolishing the company's sales. Sun was sold to Oracle in 2009.

Scott McNealy

"You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it."

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