For those of you who don’t know, a Darwin Award is not an actual award. It’s a tongue-in-cheek phrase that people use to refer to individuals who “contributed” to human evolution by getting rid of themselves from the gene pool. Nowadays it’s used to mean foolish things people did that end up damaging their plans, progress, and actions.
As such, a corporate Darwin Award is given to a company or organization that shot themselves in the foot.
Without further ado, let’s find out the top contenders for our corporate Darwin Award list.
1. Lifelock and its co-founder Todd Davis
In 2007, Lifelock – a company that specialized in identity theft protection, put out an extraordinary advertisement. They had their co-founder – Todd Davis appearing on the advertisement with his social security number exposed. It comes with the claim from Todd himself: “I’m just sure our system works. Just like we have with mine, Lifelock will make your personal information useless to a criminal.”
That didn’t work out at all apparently. From 2007 to 2010, Todd’s identity was stolen 12 times. That’s a record number for identity theft. Now that’s deserving of a Darwin Award.
2. Ocean Marketing
Ocean Marketing image was heavily damaged after a series of email between a customer – Dave and the PR Lead of the product – Paul Christoforo was revealed. You can read more about this amazing series of exchange here.
In summary, Paul went through a great length, even as far as faking his relationship with famous websites like PennyArcade to threaten the customers just because of his inquiry following an order delay. Little did he know, that customer knows Mike Krahlik – the owner of the PennyArcade Expo. What follows was a hilarious and wild ride where Paul goes through the entire 5 stages of grief and loss. It ends with an apology from Mike, but it was too late then.
The incident completely ruined the entire company’s image and it never really recovered, even after letting Paul go.
3. IBM Not Buying MSDOS Source Code From Microsoft
In the 70s, IBM executives didn’t think that the idea of household computers was a possibility. They ended up regretting that when the Apple II came out and sold like hot cakes. Desperate to catch up with Apple, IBM built a computer and used the DOS developed by Microsoft – a small partner of IBM at the time – to run.
Then, Microsoft bought the DOS from the developer who wrote it, made a few changes and renamed it to Microsoft DOS, or MS-DOS. It was used for IBM new generation of household computers, but they didn’t buy the source code and trademark from Microsoft – a move that haunts them for an eternity later.
When IBM PCs started to dominate the market due to its cheap price, people started reverse-engineering IBM PCs and made their own computers – the so-called IBM clones. Microsoft still had the source code of the DOS and was free to sell their copies of DOS. You could run DOS on any IBM clone.
Years later, IBM created their new line of computer to reign in the competition and Microsoft was tasked with developing an operating system for this new line. They developed a system where multiple programs can run simultaneously but the IBM executives weren’t fond of this new one. In the end, IBM insisted that Microsoft changed it back to an old-school version of the system with single thread processor.
However, with the technology already being developed, they used it for their next flagship product – Windows 95. And here we are now in 2019, with IBM no longer making PCs and Microsoft completely dominating the software side of computers.