How to kill your company

I’m not sure what’s infected businesses lately, but there seems to be a surge of mind-numbingly retarded executives making mind-numbingly retarded decisions.

First we have HP, which seems intent on removing itself from the Fortune-100 list.  The past year has been filled with blunders like failure to capitalize on the Palm buyout (which they paid too much for) with a tablet that was too expensive and poor competition for the iPad.  Killing it and dumping inventory in a fire sale seemed more like the kind of thing a stubborn 5-year old would do when told their toys are inferior.  The HP tablet wasn’t that bad.  Then there’s the PC-spin-off fiasco which caused stocks to take a nose-dive and the stockholders to can Leo Apotheker because they were tired of his crap.  Let’s hope the new CEO can do better – she’s only the third in 11 months.

After buying Sun in 2009, Oracle began screwing over MySQL users because Larry Ellison just doesn’t understand open software.  He’s too busy suing his neighbors over their trees.  That hasn’t stopped him from making some questionable decisions that’ve infuriated the Oracle user community.  Quadrupling the cost of MySQL support, and adding a host of new commercial extensions doesn’t bode well for the open software database platform.

But that’s not as bad as Netflix.  For a company that changed the rental industry with DVDs-by-mail, they don’t seem to understand their core business.  First was a severing of streaming and DVD contracts, effectively doubling the cost of subscriptions for most users.  Stocks took a nose dive.  Then CEO Reed Hastings announced spinning off DVD rentals into a new company called Quickster.  That move would’ve forced DVD and streaming customers to maintain two separate log-ins, accounts, and queue lists.  After a serious beating from customers and stocks, the split is being cancelled and Quickster is no more.  Nothing tells the world you don’t know what you’re doing like reversing big publicly announced decisions.  Quick tip Reed: try discussing business moves with other people before announcing them.

Just don’t ask Oracle or HP.