What's Next, Kleenex?

Sign of the times.

Sign of the times. Source: timetrax23 hide caption

itoggle caption Source: timetrax23

For as long as I can remember, whenever I'm trying to explain that someone works for a big investment firm, I say, "You know, he's an analyst at Lehman, or Morgan Stanley... one of those." I'll have to think twice before I speak so dismissively — Lehman Brothers, one of the most storied firms on Wall Street (158 years old!), filed for bankruptcy protection today. I've known friends and family that have worked at Lehman; along with Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, it virtually symbolized Wall Street to me. Certainly, the structure of the financial systems I've grown up with are changing. It made me think, though, about all the other well-known companies that have disappeared — Paine Webber, RCA, Compaq, TWA. Let's observe a moment for those ventures that tried, succeeded, only to fail flagrantly after that success.

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Remember the nifty fifty? They were the group of 60s era companies "you had to own." Most have done fine.

However a couple of notable flops were Polaroid and DEC(Digital Equipment Corp). DEC's founder Ken Olsen dismissed the personal computer as a toy only to have his failing company lapped up by Compaq a personal computer maker. To bad for Compaq that it was like a dog eating a toxic toad.

Polaroid, whose board of directors included... ahem ... Ken Olsen and owned a ton of DEC equipment succumbed to a bloated R&D work force, a loss of direction and especially a fast changing digital camera market that left its iconic instant snap shooters behind and is now little more than a brand name pasted onto generic products.

Sent by Rick Evans | 1:25 PM | 9-15-2008

Why observe a moment? This is capitalism baby! Survival of the fittest, it's greed or go home. You poor suckers thinking brand matters for squat.

Ain't you glad this economic system won out in the Cold War?

Sent by Leigh Cutler | 1:43 PM | 9-16-2008