We are huge fans of CB Insights. They produce some of the best information on the state of startups and startup retrospectives.

In October 2021, CB Insights published a fantastic piece titled “When Corporate Innovation Goes Bad — The 164 Biggest Product Failures Of All Time.” They grouped them into the following categories…

  • Apparel & Wearables
  • Automotive & Transportation
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Consumer Packaged Goods & Toiletries
  • Entertainment
  • Food & Beverage
  • Gaming
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Software & Technology
  • Toys
  • Miscellaneous

Here are some of our personal favorites from the list…

  • Nike+ FuelBand (2014) – We’ve yet to meet a single person that was able to articulate the methodology of how one earned Fuel Points.
  • DeLorean DMC-12 (1981-83) – What kid didn’t want one of these after seeing Back to the Future? The question is, will the Alpha5 fulfill the dream that John DeLorean once had?
  • Segway (2001) – Everyone’s favorite tour guide ride ceased production in 2020. 
  • Sony MiniDisc (1990s) – This one should have made it, at least until MP3s came around.
  • Keurig KOLD (2016) – Who doesn’t want a machine that can serve you a cold Coke and only takes nearly 500 drinks to pay itself off?
  • Microsoft Windows Phone (2010) – Microsoft has proved it can develop its own devices (see Surface), and Apple and Google have found success. It’s surprising Microsoft could never do the same.
  • Facebook Portal (2018) – We literally do not know a single person that purchased one of these.
  • Cheetos Lip Balm (2005) – Yuck! Need we say more?
  • XFL (2001) – Too gimmicky to work, but it did give us He Hate Me (Rod Smart).
  • Pepsi Crystal Pepsi (1992) – Not even Van Halen’s “Right Now” Super Bowl launch could save this horrible idea.
  • Redux Beverages Cocaine (2007) – The worst part is there wasn’t just one person that said, “hey, let’s name our energy drink cocaine,” others signed off on the horrific name.
  • Coors Zima (1993) – They obviously never heard about the trick of dropping in a Jolly Rancher.
  • Atari E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – Can you imagine a company spending $20M to secure the rights back in 1982?
  • Mattel Intellivision (1979) – One of our co-founders had this along with ColecoVision. Actually, he owned a Sony MiniDisk as well. Maybe we should be questioning his judgment a little more.
  • Microsoft Tay (2016) – A Twitter bot that went terribly wrong.
  • Google+ (2011-2019) – Google might know search, but it struggled mightily to create a social network to compete with Facebook.

There are a lot of other gems to be seen. Take a walk down memory lane as you read through the entire list.

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