For the All Fool’s Day holiday, take a moment to look back at the recent and even distant past mishaps that could have been larger leaders. The difference between FriendFeed, MySpace and Facebook is measured in many billions of dollars in revenue.
Coffee for $5 a Cup?
Kraft Foods had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in research showing that the North American market was ready for neighborhood cafes, but they didn’t jump on it because they are used to being in the food business. Instead of selling products for delivery into neighborhood stores and grocers, they shied away from investing in opening corner coffee shops in every American city from coast to coast. The result: Starbucks ate their lunch.
How on earth did you miss the boat on internet mapping? Because it wasn’t a priority. The firm that used to be the only name in maps of the roads and cities of North America became a sideline to companies with a dotcom in their moniker. They have since retooled and now offer a great amount of their data in GPS applications, as well as in the new version of their website where the user can receive travel packages related to directions searching. Late to the game, but points for making headway after missing the boat on the first wave.
If you want to take a firm with a reputation approaching 300 years of solid, profitable business, and completely demolish it, what is the easiest way? Betting on short-term gains in the high risk, high reward casino we call European debt. After an amazing run since the 1700s beginning with the sugar trade, MF Global had positioned itself as a focused, conservative company for financial gains, selling in the world’s market. Somehow this all unraveled in a matter of weeks as the European currency crash and debt crises in Greece, Italy and Spain caused deep discounting. MF Global was still shopping for a buyer to bail its way out of a $6.25 million bet on the situation.