You've got to be kidding. It's 2016 already? There's so much to do this year. But first, because New Year's is a time for reflection, I want to look back at last year's columns, admit when I screwed up and savor just a little the times when I didn't.
First, where I went wrong:
On the subject of McDonald's adding all-day breakfast: Last September, I didn't exactly say Mickey D's McGoose was cooked because of the change in its longstanding policy on breakfast hours. But I did question--OK, slightly ridicule--the company's citing of Twitter and the 120,000 Tweets it had received as support for the move. "What percent of McDonald's 69 million daily customers is that, exactly? Maybe somebody at Hamburger University needs to double-check the math before making such a major change," I blustered. Asking franchise owners to make the equipment switch necessary "is like asking Big Ass Fans to re-jigger the assembly line in the middle of a production run to make a custom red-and-yellow fan for Ronald."
I ended that column with a skeptical "time will tell." Well, time is telling, and it's saying I was wrong, or at least 120,000 Tweeters were right. A recent Wall Street Journal headline proclaimed "McDonald's All-Day Breakfast Is Luring in Customers, Study Finds" with the article noting one-third of lunchtime breakfast-food diners hadn't visited the chain's restaurants in the previous month. Lesson learned: Never underestimate the appeal of a mid-day McMuffin. But I'll go down swinging on my main contention: Tweets are no way to gauge public opinion.
Up next ... wait, surely that's not the only thing I got wrong last year?
Looking back, I took a little heat for blasting bankrupt startup Quirky's business model and basic common sense. One commenter responded by saying, "Quirky's mission was nothing short of amazing" and called the column "extremely unfair." But a month or so later, The Wall Street Journal reported that Quirky partner GE wrote in bankruptcy filings that the partnership has "already caused substantial damage to the reputation of GE." The company went on that Quirky failed to keep up customer service support on the products that the companies partnered to create, and GE is "incurring substantial cost" attempting to provide service.
So I won't lose any sleep over what I wrote about Quirky.
The other company I singled out for criticism was Groupon. For some reason even the name gives me the creeps, even though it makes sense. I wrote that Groupon took advantage of small business owners by trying to persuade them to essentially give things away to one-time-only customers. Was I wrong about that? Hell no! Will Groupon ultimately go down in flames as customers continue to get wise to its deals, or will it reinvent itself to offer services that help both sides of a transaction? It remains to be seen.
Other topics I speculated on in 2015 should become clearer in the coming year: Whether Etsy and Amazon can both thrive selling handmade items; whether startups and small investors will embrace the new crowdfunding rules; whether Theranos will fall; whether Gravity Payments will rise, based on CEO Dan Price's across-the-board $70K salaries; whether the Fed's interest rate hike will prove a boon or bust to the economy.
And last but actually foremost, whether a certain "businessman" will paint the White House gold.
I'll say it now: Not gonna happen.
But it should be one hell of a year.