CEOs do makes mistakes and some of them are whoppers, as JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon demonstrated by not aggressively pursuing suspicious trading activity that wound up costing the company $2 billion. Well, billionaire Eli Broad blundered badly in the early 1970s when Kaufman & Broad, the company he headed, got out of the cable business. From his comments in Newsweek:
Back then, we had three main businesses: home building, life insurance, and cable. They all demanded a great deal of capital. We looked at our finances and we didn't have enough for life insurance, home building, and cable, so we had to divest one of the three. I figured something had to go, and the executives around me and I made a choice. We ended up selling Nation Wide to Tele-Communications Inc, and we then owned 15 percent of TCI--which we foolishly and immediately cashed in for $23.5 million. At any rate, TCI went on to become the nation's largest cable provider. It was later acquired by AT&T, which then sold it to Comcast. Comcast is worth about $78 billion today. It was a mistake selling it. We should have sold the home-building business and kept cable.
Broad has been plugging his quasi-autobiography, "The Art of Being Unreasonable."