The SV-1 Bricklin. It took on the Chevrolet Corvette head-to-head (at least in various car magazines this was the claim)... and that went about as well as the USFL taking on the NFL in the 80's.
Both the USFL and the Bricklin can say this: They lasted about 3 years, and cost their investors some hefty cash.
The Bricklin, however, lives on as a somewhat collectible little roadfaring oddity that has a major fan club. Isn't the internet a great thing? Now all these Bricklin owners can easily exchange information and meet up to kick back and discuss the good 'ole days... wait. What good 'ole days?
The Bricklin was a troubled car from start to finish. Its body moldings were prone to crack, the engines would overheat, and the gull-wing doors could malfunction and leave you stranded inside.
Worse than that, the lack of business experience in the car manufacturing industry lead to a costly assembly line. Production costs outweighed the market price for this car, and sales were not brisk, to say the least. In the end, Malcom Bricklin left the Canadian Government hanging out to dry to the tune of $23 Million as the production plant went into receivership.
Staring a car company from scratch? Difficult. Starting from stratch with little experience in manufacturing, and with only one model? Extremely difficult. Doing it with a car designed like the Batmobile?
Now that's how to be unlucky in business.
Enron's Employee Retirement Plan
A hard lesson here.
We are all, as working individuals, a business within ourselves. We work, we get paid. We balance our budget, and plan for our retirement. We purchase assets and real estate. Our lives are each a mini-business, and there are some very unlucky stories here as well.
One of the most high-profile is the story of Enron. A very unhappy, unlucky business for many involved with that infamous company.
When Enron began its descent into bankruptcy, an estimated 11,000 employees lost roughly $1 Billion in company stock held in their 401k plans. The employees had been conditioned throughout the years to buy up the stock in the highly successful company that they worked for, and in the end, unfortunately, were left holding the bag. An empty bag.
The following link details the heartbreak, with examples such as one man watching his retirement nest egg fall from $1 Million to $10,000 when his Enron stock was declared worthless.
The lesson? Diversify. Don't saturate your 401K with your own company's stock. No stock is 100% safe, and the more you hold of one company, the greater your risk.
The Oak Island Money Pit
One of the fastest ways to make money would be to find a treasure! No doubt that is what has lured many investors into one of the most well-known money traps of all time, the aptly named Oak Island Money Pit.
The legend that surrounds this small island off the coast of Nova Scotia is spectacular. In 1795, three young men set out on a lazy afternoon of adventurous wandering, and rowed to the nearby abandoned island to hang out.
Once on the island, they discovered a worn tree limb overhanging a depression in the ground. Intrigued, they began to dig to see what may have been buried below. Ten feet down, they hit a platform of logs. Some accounts say that at this level they also discovered a bag of silver coins, which they quickly surmised to be a false treasure planted to discourage further digging.
But dig on they did, and they came across more log platforms every 10 feet. Reaching a depth of 30 feet, they were exhausted, and left the island to get more help. Returning some time later with a band of local workmen, they continued to dig until they hit 90 feet. The log platforms had been present every ten feet up to this point, but now they had hit a solid foundation which they determined was made of either stone, or wooden chest. Knowing the hardest excavation work now lay ahead, and because it was late into the evening hours, the group turned in for night, planning on finishing the job in the morning.
They awoke at daybreak however to find the shaft they had dug had completely flooded during the night! Despite their best efforts, the pit had to be left, and they returned home empty handed.
A published account of the money pit in the early 1800’s spurred major interest in the site, and since that time, many individuals and corporations have sunk untold amounts of time and money into excavating the money pit. Six people have died trying to uncover the treasure- one from a shaft collapse, one from a fall, and four from carbon monoxide poisoning from an un-attended water pump within the shaft.
So much mining activity has taken place on Oak Island, and so much of the landscape has been moved around, that the original site of the money pit is not entirely clear anymore. The tree, from which the original branch first displayed the marked of a lowed treasure, is long gone, and so are the few artifacts supposedly claimed from the site.
The original bag of silver coins, a stone plate found at the 90-foot mark with unusual hieroglyphs on it, and a strand of gold chain reportedly pulled up from a mining drill during an excavation attempt in 1849 are all unaccounted for.
Yet the legend endures, and captures the imagination of treasure seekers to this day!
The latest news is that in 2006, a partnership from Michigan has purchased 50% of Oak Island in hopes of putting together the final, successful excavation of the Oak Island Money Pit. Is this a bad business decision by wealthy dreamers? Some may say so, as all former attempts at solving the riddle of the Oak Island Money Pit have been unlucky in business…
Bad Day in the Stock Market--Japanese brokerage firm Mizuho loses $225 Million Dollars in less than 5 minutes!!
It was going to be a big day for J-Com, a personnel recruiting company that was scheduled for an Initial-Public Offering on the Nikkei Exchange.
However, things turned south in a hurry when a broker for Mizuho (the firm handling the public offering) accidentally put out the order to sell 610,000 shares of the new company at about one-penny per share, when they were actually supposed to issue 14,000 shares for $600 each.
The resulting chaos led to a downturn in the entire Tokyo Stock Exchange and left the firm Mizuho responsible for much of the $225 Million that was lost as a result of the trade. Trading of J-Com shares was halted until the mess could be sorted out. Ironically, Mizuho had recently posted a quarterly profit of $233 Million, just enough to cover the loss!
Oak Island Money Pit
Stock Broker's Worst Nightmare
Tetris - From Russia, Without Love For Personal Royalties
Voted in 2007 as IGN’s 2nd greatest game of all time, Tetris has seen total sales of over 70-million copies worldwide. This includes everything from a full-size arcade unit (an estimated 20,000 units placed) to modern, cell-phone apps.
The game perhaps reached its peak in the 80’s when it was bundled with Nintendo’s game-boy system, and sold 33-million copies. It has been distributed in Arcade, Home-System, and PC formats.
The amount of money Tetris generated for arcade owners and Nintendo alone is staggering. Having this game placed on a pedestal alongside the likes of Mrs. PacMan and Galaga is a significant honor. However… When Alexey Pajitnov invented Tetris in 1985, he was, unfortunately, working for the Computing Center of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Government research and development.
Those were the days, weren’t they? Every citizen of the Soviet Union worker for mother Russia, and the rights to his game were firmly held by the communist government. But a good game can’t be kept down. Particularly in the programming world, where it soon found itself ported to an Apple computer system by Hungarian programmers, and from there it was discovered by those pesky capitalists from the West.
Soon, an attempt was made to purchase the rights to Tetris from the Soviet government by a British software firm named Andromeda. It failed. The Soviets understood how to make nuclear powered submarines, but they had little knowledge of the video-game industry, or contracts for inventor rights concerning such odd property. After all, Tetris was a brain-exercise game invented for Mother Russia to develop the minds of her youth, was it not? It certainly was not intended for sale to the West… okay maybe that’s stretching the saga a bit, but who knows?
What we do know is that Andromeda decided to ignore the Soviet failure and claim the game was invented instead by Hungarian programmers all along. And so the rights were sold to Microsoft… Atari… and Nintendo… by Andromeda, who had pulled a fast one. Without a clear patent holder or inventor in the picture, more confusing business deals (and lawsuits) were just around the corner.
There are really two losers to this story, Alexey Pajitnov, and Tengen, a video game publisher and developer that branched off of Atari back in the 80’s.
As the massive potential of the game was becoming evident, and the Nintendo Game-Boy release in the United States loomed, the fights for the rights to Tetris began to heat up. A second offer was made to the Soviet Government (specifically the Soviet Ministry of Software and Hardware Export) by Nintendo, and was accepted. The purchase was said to have been in millions.
All Pajitnov got out of the deal was a nicer, state-owned apartment. Soviet citizens were not allowed to receive royalties.
Tengen, who thought they already held console rights to Tetris through various other deals which had originally sprung from the Andromeda rights, suddenly found itself locked out. They had massed produced hundreds of thousands of copies of the game for release on the Nintendo NES. But these cartridges were destined for the landfill, as Nintendo now solely owned the rights to the console version, and produced their own release, as well as a Game-Boy version.
Alas, this Unlucky In Business story actually has a happy ending after all. The Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union collapsed (even though they made all that money off Nintendo—those Nuclear Submarines were so expensive to maintain!!)
And Alexey Pajitnov was able to move to the West, where his notoriety and programming skills quickly paid off. He landed a job with Microsoft in 1996, and is currently working with a number of game development companies. Rumor has it he lives in an even nicer apartment now!
From Russia, Without Love
Recoup $4 Million at $5 a week
Newsday Charges for Website Content
Perhaps one of the greatest perks of the internet is the endless supply of up-to-date information one can access at any moment. Everything from Reuters, the BBC, major news networks, cable news, the Wall-Street Journal--its all online… and free.
Some outlets really understand how to prosper in this environment. They will develop a reputation, get millions of hits, and generate your income through ad banners and links. The Drudgereport is an example of this successful formula.
Then there are those few, bold entrepreneurs who will try to push the envelope.
Newsday is a daily U.S. paper headquartered in Melville, New York. It is one of the top 15 papers in the nation in circulation. Thinking they would be the ones to change the way the internet delivers news content, the owners of Newsday decided to charge a $5 per week for membership to the Newsday.com web site. So, in fall of 2009, the company spent $4 million to redesign the site, add content, and block unpaid viewers.
Newsday.com would open to its front page, show classified ads and movie listings, as well as show school closings to all site visitors, but any further access would require the weekly fee (which amounted to $260 a year). Print subscribers were given access to the site without paying the additional $5 fee.
In late January of 2010, after three months of gathering subscribers, Newsday revealed that a whopping 35 paid subscribers had signed up!
During this time, website traffic to the site has tanked, and in turn, advertising revenue generated by Newsday.com is going through what could be politely called a recession.
Wow, if Ron had only taken a chance
Ron Wayne, the name you don't associate with Apple Computer, Inc. Wayne has the honor of designing the company's original logo and writing the first manual for the Apple computer. He even drafted the first partnership agreement.
That agreement gave him a 10 percent ownership stake in Apple, worth a whopping $22 billion today if he had held onto it. Instead, he sold back his shares for $800 because he was the only one of the three founders with assets that creditors could seize if business didn't go well.
Ron was 42 and chief draftsman at Atari when he first met 21-year-old Steve Jobs, who was then freelancing at the company. It was during that time that Jobs came up with the idea of Apple, giving himself and his partner, Wozniak each 45 percent, with the final 10 percent going to Wayne, who would be a deciding vote between the sometimes headstrong partners.
Twelve days after Wayne wrote the typed out the document that formally created Apple, he renounced his role in the company. Wayne looking back now admits that he's not the businessman he should be."
Wow, if Ron had only taken a chance