A dose of executive-level schadenfreude. Plus, how not to get in trouble with the law at your company holiday party, and other news.
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
10 CEOs who had a really bad year. With the new year approaching, it is a natural time to look back and consider some of the things we could have done better. No matter how bad you may have screwed things up, however, you can feel better that at least you had a better year than the CEOs on Forbes's list of the the biggest CEO screw-ups of 2010. The list is chock full of CEOs who were involved in embarrassing sex scandals, outrageous PR goofs, and in many cases, plain old criminal behavior. Not surprisingly, BP CEO Tony Hayward tops the list for his handling of the Gulf oil spill which he described as "very, very modest."
Too much 'nog at the office holiday party? You know those little lapses of judgment that can happen when that perfect storm of festivity and spirits occurs? The Miami Heraldreports that some extra trouble (of the legal kind) can come from slipping up in the presence of co-workers armed with smartphones. "Social media at holiday parties is now the gift that can keep giving," said New York employment attorney Christopher Parlo. How to avoid it? Well, there's always "use good judgement." Also, remind employees of potential consequences. And, if all else fails, there's always the Social Media Sobriety Test.
Tumblr's growing pains. The trendy blogging site, which was down for about 24 hours yesterday, has blamed its technical difficulties on the site's growth. "Frankly," a company blog post, titled "Downtime" reads, "keeping up with growth has presented more work than our small team was prepared for—with traffic now climbing more than 500M pageviews each month." In attempt to boost capacity, the post states that the company has quadrupled its engineering staff this month. And, in an act of true humility, the post ends, "Sorry we let you down today." Here, we've compiled more tips for dealing with a setback.
Who's killing cable? No longer just a mail-order DVD service, Netflix is now proving to be a formidable competitor for cable providers and landline phone services, reports today's Wall Street Journal. The explosion of Netflix, which has seen increases of its subscriber base by more than 50 percent over last year, is leveraging its "Play it Now" feature—which allows users to stream movies and TV shows instantly—to put pressure on the providers. Yesterday, The New York Times wrote about the resurgence of the HDTV "rabbit ear" antenna, signaling to researchers that people are just no longer willing to pay for premium content that can often be obtained for free.
Long live the airline lounge. Does your business fork over an extra $15 for a better seat or $30 to get into an "elite" airline lounge to help business travelers squeeze in work between flights? Well, it turns out you aren't alone. A report by Orbitz for Business finds that "companies and corporate travelers increasingly seek a 'balance' between compliance with strict company travel policies and the requirements of a traveler on a specific trip," according to The New York Times. Airlines, in turn, reap the rewards, to the tune of $7.8 billion in ancillary fees last year, up from $5.5 billion the previous year. The study finds that the three services considered most important were an aisle seat, priority boarding, and access to airline lounges.
Wait, is Wikileaks good? At a time when the whistleblower website seems to be under fire from all directions, Wired has an impassioned editorial on why the organization could actually be a force for good. "WikiLeaks stands to improve our democracy, not weaken it," writes Wired.com editor-in-chief Evan Hansen, arguing that secrecy has become too pervasive in governance and is stamping out transparency and its values. This despite Wired's fractious relationship with WikiLeaks and its crusading founder Julian Assange, who lashed out at the publication for its coverage of infighting at the beleaguered anti-secrecy group.
Bless this business. A new incarnation of a sacred American institution, the burger joint, is trying something holy in hopes of finding success where many others have failed. By inviting holy men of three faiths—Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist—come bearing prayer and blessings, the owners of the New York Burger Company hoped to clear any bad spirits from its new location, a corner in New York's Chelsea neighborhood where four restaurants have come and gone over the past dozen years, the New York Times reports. Also on the wish list: drumming up some intruiging and jolly holiday-season PR.
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is senior writer at Inc. @Lagorio