Spectacular Failures

Spectacular Failures

Corporate crookedness. Family feuding. Hilariously half-baked decisions. Host Lauren Ober tackles some of the most spectacular business failures of all time, and what could have been done to avoid them. Some of these stories are shocking. Some are funny. Some are just downright sad. But each one will give you a totally new perspective on big business… and big failure. From American Public Media.... Show More

Episodes

October 5, 2020 37 min

The Los Angeles restaurant Sqirl had lines down the block for brunches that featured its famous house-made jams on toast. But then a photo of discarded mold scraped from the jam, snapped by someone in the Sqirl kitchen, blew up the internet...and led to a reputation crisis Sqirl is still dealing with.

Our sponsors this week:

Bombas - Bombas.com/spectacular

Ourcrowd - Ourcrowd.com/spectacular

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September 28, 2020 37 min

Even before Uber and Lyft pulled into town, NYC yellow cabs were having a rough ride. Reckless lending practices and inflated taxi medallion prices racked up profits for the city and debt for drivers. Then, the bubble did what bubbles do. 

Our sponsors this week:

Policy Genius - policygenius.com

Betterhelp - betterhelp.com/spectacular

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September 21, 2020 43 min

Before the housing bubble burst, Countrywide Financial was one of the nation’s largest home mortgage lenders. But after years of predatory lending practices, the predator went extinct.

Our sponsors this week:

Indeed - Indeed.com/spectacular

Policy Genius - Policygenius.com

Our Crowd - ourcrowd.com/spectacular

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September 14, 2020 39 min

Pan Am made air travel cool—from chic crew uniforms to exotic locations to square-jawed flyboy pilots. But a couple of bad business deals, massive deregulation, and a devastating terrorist attack sunset the airline for good.

Our sponsors this week:

Betterhelp: betterhelp.com/spectacular
The Great Courses Plus: thegreatcoursesplus.com/spectacular

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September 7, 2020 37 min

Got milk? These days, chances are maybe not. Americans have been saying no thanks for years now, and changing consumer tastes have been bad news for what used to be the nation’s largest milk processor, Dean Foods.

Sign up to receive our brand new newsletter, featuring weekly recommendations from Lauren and the rest of the team at spectacularfailures.org/newsletter.

Read the transcript of the episode at spectacularfailures.org.

You ca...

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August 31, 2020 38 min

The recording industry, Metallica, and ultimately federal court put the brakes on Napster’s music file sharing. But before exiting the stage, Napster changed the way we listen to music—and how much we’re willing to pay for it.

[Editor’s note - Sept. 1, 2020: This episode has been updated to reflect that “CyberTalk” was a group effort overseen by Jeff Gold. An earlier version characterized it as his solo effort.]


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August 24, 2020 39 min

When Hooker Chemical sold its infamous toxic waste landfill to the Niagara Falls School Board, the $1 deal left Niagara residents seriously ill. But few believed the company could truly be at fault...until it was too late.

Our sponsors this week:
NetSuite: netsuite.com/spectacular
Betterhelp: betterhelp.com/spectacular

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Livent was a showstopper of an operation. But eventually, forgery and fraud stole the scene, the money exited stage left, and the lead actor landed behind bars.

Our sponsors this week:
Indeed: indeed.com/spectacular
NetSuite: netsuite.com/spectacular
The Great Courses Plus: thegreatcoursesplus.com/spectacular

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The mom-and-pop fast-fashion retailer exploded into malls across the globe. But eventually, Forever 21 unraveled like the hem on a cheap crop top.

Our sponsors this week:
Fiverr: fiverr.com promo code SPECTACULAR
NetSuite: NetSuite.com/SPECTACULAR
The Great Courses Plus: thegreatcoursesplus.com/spectacular

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The meal kit delivery service was almost belly-up before the pandemic hit. But then people stuck cooking at home gave the brand a lifeline. Investors found it tastier than ever, but will customers still hanker for the big blue box once this is all over?


Our sponsors this week: Betterhelp: betterhelp.com/spectacular code spectacular
NetSuite: netsuite.com/spectacular
Policygenius: policygenius.com


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July 20, 2020 1 min

Spectacular Failures is back for season two, starting August 3rd! 2020 has been a year of fail. Global pandemic, check. Economic meltdown, check. Political unrest, check. Busted businesses and collapsed corporations are having a moment, and who better to tackle those tales than Lauren Ober and Spectacular Failures?

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August 19, 2019 41 min

By the time the final dice were thrown, Trump's Atlantic City casino operations had gone bankrupt six times. Despite that, Trump won the long game.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

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August 12, 2019 36 min

No amount of nostalgia could save Toys R Us from the private equity firms that owned it.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

Spectacular Failures is powered by you. Support the show with a donation at spectacularfailures.org/donate.

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August 5, 2019 37 min

Charles Keating robbed working people of their life savings and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. All under the watch of powerful politicians.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

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The aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire helped usher in higher wages, safer conditions and a prohibition on child labor. But the problems that led to the fire haven’t gone away. Not even close.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

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Failed therapy sessions, fistfights in the board room and even murder accusations. U-Haul’s trip to bankruptcy will make you think twice about mixing business and family.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

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July 15, 2019 32 min

The world's largest photography company pioneers the snapshot, invents the digital camera and... declares bankruptcy.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

Spectacular Failures is powered by you. Support the show with a donation at spectacularfailures.org/donate.

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A family-owned business fights a billion-dollar, multinational company. And wins.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

Visit our website for this week’s BizWiz link at spectacularfailures.org

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July 1, 2019 28 min

"The beer that made Milwaukee famous" cuts corners. And loses its most loyal customers.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

Spectacular Failures is powered by you. Support the show with a donation at spectacularfailures.org/donate.

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Unlimited movie theater tickets for $9.99 a month? It sounds too good to be true and, well... it might be.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using @failureshow. We're @failure_show on Instagram, where you can see photos from Lauren's tour of the former Heritage USA property. Follow Lauren Ober on Twitter and Instagram at @oberandout.

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