Ironic quotes from executives who incorrectly predicted the failure of upstarts

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Some of them are just standard dismissive or defensive executives, but a few of them are just galling, in particular:

at the same time those wealth management companies were fighting against rules that would require them to act as fiduciaries with regards to retirement investment accounts.



it doesn’t have a keyboard. Which makes it not a very good email machine.

True. I would never write an email of more than a couple sentences on my phone without thinking “fuck it, this just isn’t even worth it”. I once even sent a work email to “Mr. Wolverine” (actually Wolverton) because of the damn autocorrect.


“Screw the Nano. What the hell does the Nano do? Who listens to 1,000 songs?”

Let’s see. At just under 5 minutes a song, that comes to 80 hours of music. As I listen to music during work, I can blow through that in a couple weeks.


“Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition,” said Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes

How’s that working out for you? CEO of what now?

Personal computers:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” said Thomas Watson, president of IBM, in 1943.

If the world market is limited to my pocket, then yes.



I’ve been typing out emails on mobile devices since my two-way pager in 1999. I had a blackberry 950 (pager form factor, not what we know today) shortly after that. I’ve been on call nearly continuously since then (Hell I’ve been on call for Boing Boing for 11 years straight now…) and I used to write such long emails on those mobile devices that I’d regularly hit the buffer limit for sending them.

Typically this was while in transit somewhere, down at the datacenter, or somewhere else that having a laptop/desktop just didn’t make sense. When the iPhone came out, I thought the lack of keyboard would mean the end of long emails, but instead, they’re just as long now, but I can include documents and annotate crap along the way, too.

I think it has a lot to do with your use case.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon opined plainly in late 2015 that bitcoin will not survive:
“This is my personal opinion, there will be no real, non-controlled currency in the world,” said Dimon. “There is no government that’s going to put up with it for long … there will be no currency that gets around government controls.”

This, though, I mostly agree with. I disagree that bitcoin won’t survive. It will. what I agree with is that governments will maintain control of the crossover points between “traditional” currency and bitcoin, and that will prevent it escaping government control as a result. Right now almost all the ways that exist to transfer bitcoin into, or from, traditional currency are regulated, or about to be.


I can type emails of equal length on the iPhone that was forced upon me when work removed the Blackberry, as I could type on that Blackberry. But iPhone emails take me 3-4 times as long, with 2 or 3 times as many errors and hugely many more backspaces. This DOES make an iPhone a not very good email machine, in my view, whatever one’s use case, if that use case has any time element in it.

And the Four Seasons guy was not actually saying AirBnB would fail. I doubt many AirBnB customers are defectors from Four Seasons, which was probably rather more his point.


Can we please get an @orenwolf t-shirt up’n-hya?


I think MPAA President Jack Valenti deserves a special award for what told a congressional panel in 1982:

“I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.”

Not only was he ridiculously wrong about VCRs, if he’d had his way he would have killed the emerging market for home movies which quickly became the most profitable market in the entire entertainment industry.


Heh, actually longer than that. October 31, 2003 - @doctorow rang me up (I was already hosting his personal sites by then) and they needed emergency hosting of Boing Boing (it was offline). It’s been my responsibility ever since.


Except that’s nothing new. People in finance have known for decades that money managers are worse than useless. They’re just the best salesmen in town. It’s a poorly-kept secret; personal finance writers have been whistleblowing for a long time.


Is there a list of quotes from executives who correctly predicted the failure of upstarts? :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, and also, Mr. Valenti felt the need to use rape-murder, specifically of a “defenseless” woman, as a casual, relatable analogy.

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The very second quote is bang on correct:

“The development of mobile phones will follow a similar path to that followed by PCs,” said Nokia’s Chief Strategy Officer Anssi Vanjoki, in a German interview. “Even with the Mac, Apple attracted a lot of attention at first, but they have remained a niche manufacturer. That will be their role in mobile phones as well.”


And yet people still insist on saying “iPhone” when they mean “smartphone”. Or just “phone”.

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Yeah, there were layers of stupid in that quote. It’s kind of incredible that he was able to hang on to that position for the next 20 years.

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ok, so pretty sure the Four Seasons guy is still 100% correct. If I can afford to stay at a Four Seasons I am not going anywhere near airbnb


Bitcoin survives only in the use case for black market transactions and speculation. Without gambling, drugs, and day trading, volume would disappear and mining would be unprofitable incredibly quickly.

Hell, even the exchanges wouldn’t be profitable without all the frontrunning, manipulation and fake volume.

I don’t think it’ll ever “not survive” as there will be plenty of geeks to keep it going as a labor of love.

But it has failed commercially and it’s failed to provide any benefit for settlement. People still want a “new Paypal” so VCs continue to throw millions at Paypal “killers” that aren’t.

I imagine it’s still well a boys’ club at that tier.

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I don’t know anyone who does that. Maybe it’s a weird regional thing, like referring to all pop as coke.


Are we sure that the executive from DEC wasn’t making a distinction between computers and terminals? DEC was a major manufacturer of timesharing systems.

If so, you could argue that he was right in a way. I may be writing this on a computer but I could do everything I do on my local machine “in the cloud” from a terminal. Isn’t that what a Chromebook is?


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