Leadership is a lot about making good decisions, developing a good strategy, having a vision. So when someone blows it completely, it’s worth noting. Today’s award for business infamy goes to William Orton, president of the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1876. At that time, the company had a monopoly on the telegraph, which at that time was the world’s most advanced communications device.
So wrapped up in the telegraph was Orton that when Gardiner Greene Hubbard, Alexander Graham Bell’s father-in-law, approached Orton with an offer to sell him a patent for the newly invented telephone for $100,000, Orton thought he was kidding.
Orton replied to Bell: “Mr Bell, after careful consideration of your invention, while it is an interesting novelty, we have come to the conclusion that it has no commercial possibilities…What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”