Top 10 Fails of the Year

  1. Google Glass – Very disappointingly, Google Glass seems to have become a failure. There are still a few reports of it getting new usage in various industrial settings, but Google seems to have stopped promoting it. But then again, it’s early days for this kind of revolutionary technology, so we don’t know yet if this was a Newton or an iPhone 1.
  2. Twitter changes – In their new shape as a public company, Twitter has been forced to make a number of moves that potentially can bring in more revenue. Unfortunately, most of these changes also tend to upset the existing core users, as Twitter becomes more and more like Facebook and loses a bit of its individual identity.
  3. Abenomics – Japan’s GDP figures are just getting worse and worse, and it’s now back in recession. This is hardly the outcome that Abe was envisioning, and the reason can’t be as simple as the consumption tax or his failure to shoot his third arrow (the regulatory one), it must speak to the momentous task of turning around a moribund economy with an aging population (while turning off nuclear power)
  4. Hedge Funds – Hedge Funds have underperformed significantly this year (again). It seems the old idea that hedge funds would benefit from volatility does not apply to volatility that is actually unpredictable.
  5. Chuck Hagel – Chuck Hagel failed to make a dent in the enormous behemoth that is the Department of Defense and failed to deliver a succinct Middle East policy. Hopefully Carter can improve on his performance.
  6. Iran nuclear deal – The extension to the Iran nuclear deal feels like a cop-out. It goes to show that the negotiators do not actually represent the actual power bases in their respective countries (Congress, Khomeini).
  7. The New Republic – I actually admired Chris Hughes when he bought the failing classic title that is The New Republic, but it seems that was shortsighted of me, he did not seem to have the best of the magazine at heart. Yes, it’s great to be a vertically integrated digital media business, and yes, it is hard, nigh impossible to run a traditional media business these days, but still…TNR is TNR. Or was.
  8. Facebook’s psychology experiments – This year, Facebook’s users learned that they are indeed the product, as Facebook revealed running large-scale tests designed to impact users’ moods. On the one hand, the necessary A/B testing of a data company, on the other hand, never felt more like a guinea pig.
  9. Brazil’s World Cup performance – Rarely, even including England’s constant self-flagellating pre-tournament hubris, has there been such a disconnect between the performance of a team forecasted to win the tournament by everyone and their dog before the tournament, and the actual performance in a game.
  10. Failing itself – This year, we were inundated with a flurry of articles proclaiming the necessity of failure itself. Most of this Silicon Valley-led effort, which might as well have been funded by a SuperPAC-equivalent of VC firms, failed to mention the difficulties of failure and the low success rates.

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