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People Share Their Favorite Examples Of Massive Corporate Failures

"Reddit user Amthomas101 asked: 'What is your favorite example of a massive corporate failure?'"

Shot of several skyscrapers pointing into a blue sky, from the ground up
Photo by Clay LeConey on Unsplash

The world's financial history is littered with colossal losses.

So many corporations have lost everything in the blink of an eye.

And a lot of the world tends to get a kick out of it.

Redditor Amthomas101 wanted to hear about history's best corporate falls, so they asked:

"What is your favorite example of a massive corporate failure?"

They Had Everything!

"Sears was practically built on catalog sales and shipping items to customers. They had the infrastructure in place yet somehow missed out on internet shopping."

~ Low-Teach-8023

"Sears had everything. They were the original Everything Store... You could even buy a house."

"- Retail catalog of just about everything that could have moved to electronic form."
"- Experience with mail order logistics."
"- They owned Discover card."
"- They had a large stake in Prodigy, one of the first ISPs."

"They could have had an online store where consumers felt safe using their Discover card at. They could have offered in-store returns on goods bought online."

They f**king blew it!

~ i_am_voldemort

"I don’t fault them for not understanding Internet shopping at first. Plenty of people thought the idea was ridiculous."

"That being said, one year after Amazon Had started doing it is a different matter. By about 97-98 Sears should have been in the deep end selling online."

~ BiggusD**kus-

Following Changes

"Probably Blackberry, they're an interesting case study in a company being sniped off of what ten years ago had been an undisputed market-leading position by failing to account for changing technology."
~ IneptusMechanicua

"Years ago, I listened to a podcast where they talked about the first time BlackBerry engineers got hold of an iPhone and opened it. They deemed they were several years behind replicating the iPhone and didn't think it was possible."

~ MagicalWhisk

"Same with Nokia. An exec took the first iPhone home and his daughter asked if she could take 'the magic phone' to bed with her. He knew then they were screwed."

~ battleofflowers

Someone call Justin Trudeau...

"Target's expansion to Canada was a disaster."

"They spent billions purchasing existing Zellers (Canadian department store) locations from Hudsons Bay Company (HBC). Then they spent 100s of millions more renovating them. They leased more locations to open stores. 133 in total. Due to a variety of issues, mainly distribution problems -they tanked, Target Canada declared bankruptcy and had to pay more millions to get out of leases and sell their owned real estate. This all happened in about 5 years."

"My favorite part of the story is the HBC took some of the proceeds from the sale of Zellers and bought Saks Fifth Avenue with it. They've recently begun re-opening Zellers"

~ Cuddy606

Bad Decisions

"Circuit City 'cutting costs' by firing their most experienced salespeople."

"The chain was bankrupt in less than two years."

~ JimBeam823

"Circuit City’s salespeople weren’t very knowledgeable by the standards of the day. People shopped elsewhere and then went to CC for the low price. It did their competitors in. Then the internet did Circuit City in."

~ Muscs

"'Circuit City, where service is state-of-the-art.' So funny when a large company instantly flips on a slogan it spent so much time and money cultivating."

~ xkulp8

Digital Issues

"I worked for Kodak (Qualex) and I will never forget the meeting we had talking about 35mm film. A person said he’s noticing an influx of people looking to print digital photos."

"This was a senior Vice President of Kodak saying, and I quote 'this whole digital thing is just a fad, it will blow over soon.'”

~ SteelBrightblade1

"I think it's a toss-up between Xerox and Kodak for the worst corporate failure. Both companies were on the leading edge of the revolution (Xerox even more so with there work at PARC) and somehow managed to f**k it up by being stupid."

~ iamamuttonhead

Air Meltdown

" Southwest Airlines last Christmas."

~ CtForrestEye

"It was the biggest meltdown in aviation history according to the IATA, and that’s a statistic no airline wants to have."

~ utrampyWithout a lot of details.

"Essentially they fumbled the ball during a winter storm around Christmas time."

"They f**ked up their crew schedule software (or it crashed?) during the worst time of the year in addition to weather that made it even more hectic."

"A perfect storm. Left people stranded in airports for literally days. Had to shell out a sh*t load of money to refund travelers. Etc."

~ lighttowercircle

Sell High

"George Lucas offered to sell his computer animation company to Disney for $8 Million in the 1980s. Disney balked so he sold it to Steve Jobs instead and it became Pixar."

~ Tuckenie


"The entire Penn Central disaster. The railroad was massive but terribly managed and lasted less than 3 years before becoming the biggest bankruptcy in US history at the time."


"I've watched a lot of videos on this and I think the biggest problem was that Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad had completely different company culture. The leadership of both railroads butted head constantly during the 3-year run of Penn Central, and it cost them customers, trackage, employees, and money until PC went broke."

~ Wilgrove

Face 2 Face

"I don't know if this counts as a failure, but Skype had a 10-15 year head start only for Zoom to swipe in during the pandemic."


"People used Skype when it was good, then MS degraded it and people grumbled because for some reason there were no good alternatives. Lockdowns happened and everyone needed video chat and they were STOKED to jump on a Skype alternative because the software had been hot garbage for years already and everyone was sick of it."

~ AIHumanWhoCares

Labor Issues

"World War II was over. Germany was a bombed-out smoking ruin. The victors saw that communism was taking hold in countries with collapsed economies, so they wanted to resurrect the economies of Europe. They were desperate to just get people working again. They'd try anything that had a ghost of a chance at working."

"The U.S. essentially told Ford that they'd give them the Volkswagenwerk, the factory that made VWs. If Ford were to take over, just run this factory and make some cars, get people back to work, they could have it for free. Henry Ford II told his board of directors: 'Gentlemen, what we're being offered here isn't worth a damn.' And declined the offer."

~ DancesWithTrout

The Rivalry

"Adidas and Puma focused on a sibling rivalry so much that they failed to notice when a relatively small newcomer called Nike overtook them to become #1 in the world."

~ ChronoLegion2

"Yes! Either Air (movie) or Shoe Dog (book) touched on that very intentionally. Highly recommend both of those to anyone interested in the history of Nike/Phil Knight."

~ Brave_Garlic_9542

Operation Fail

"IBM. They let Microsoft retain the rights to the PC operating system they put on the IBM PC."

~ privilegedwhiner

"At the time IBM wasn't worried about other computers using DOS because DOS was only one half of compatibility with IBM PCs. The other half was the IBM BIOS, which is the firmware in ROM on IBM PCs that actually handled many low-level functions. A lot of early PC clones ran DOS but weren't BIOS-compatible, so they couldn't actually run software that ran on IBM PCs."

"IBM didn't believe anyone could clone the BIOS, and they thought they could sue anyone who tried for copyright infringement. They even published the assembly code for the BIOS in the PC manual to make it more difficult to avoid copyright infringement. What they didn't count on was companies like Compaq setting up a clean-room reverse engineering process so that they could win the legal battle with IBM to fully clone the PC."

"Not signing an exclusive contract with MS for MS-DOS was certainly a f*ck-up, but keep in mind there were also alternative clones of MS-DOS available within a few years too. DR-DOS, for example. Clone PCs were probably inevitable even if MS-DOS had been unavailable. IBM had no patents on the PC architecture, so ultimately they couldn't stop anyone from copying it."

~ DeliciousPangolin

Cinematic Craziness

"Universal’s Dark Universe. In the rush to create a cinematic universe to rival Marvel, Universal was going to do a reboot of their classic monsters (Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, etc)."

"Alex Kurtzman was going to be their Kevin Feige, overseeing the entire franchise. The first film was going to be The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. They made the big announcement that Johnny Depp was going to be the Invisible Man, Javier Bardem was going to be Frankenstein’s Monster, and Russel Crowe was going to be Dr. Jeckyl."

"But what happened? Cruise took over control of the Mummy, turning it into just another vehicle for himself. With fond memories of the Brendan Fraser Mummy films, audiences stayed away, and the Mummy flopped, taking the entire Dark Universe with it."

~ originalchaosinabox

80s Finances

"American car manufacturers in the 80s. I was buying my first family car and it was between a Ford Taurus wagon and a Toyota Camry wagon. The Ford sales guy said 'Yeah, the Japanese have to learn they can't make cars that last 15 years!' and then laughed. We got the Camry. No wonder the American car manufacturers all had to be bailed out."

~ femsci-nerd

That Has to Hurt

"M and M’s declining to be the candy of choice for E.T. I remember watching the movie in the theaters thinking, 'Oh, Reece’s Pieces, that’s cute.' Huge mistake."

~ augirllovesuaboy

Who is the executive that turned down E.T.? As a business person, I don't know how one stays in the company after a debacle like that.

Though I myself am an M&M's family member, I'll eat some Reece's in a heartbeat. And I know Reece's because of E.T.

These are some MASSIVE fails here. There are a lot of people out there who make a lot of money and make HORRIBLE decisions. How do they make that money? Human error costs a fortune.