Business lessons from the last decade

It's 50 years since MT was first published, so we've trawled the archives to bring you some gems from times gone by. The last in our series: 2006-16.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 14 Jul 2016

The upside of the crash

The financial sector had just imploded, leaving a pile of toxic derivative assets and IOUs. Governments were beginning to assume vast debts, warning that it would take years of austerity to pay for them. Just as we are now over Brexit, MT decided to look on the bright side, with several reasons to be cheerful in October 2008.

Rejoicing in the end to tedious dinner-party conversations about booming house prices - 'never again will you have to endure a pair of deadbeats from Leicester wittering on about the "wow factor"' - may have proved a tad premature.

The same can't be said for another of the upsides, schadenfreude - 'economic destruction is now being wrought upon many a haughty-spirited banker, hedge-fund manager and estate agent - all in a most satisfactorily biblical way'. Over $200bn in fines later, we may be close to forgiving them - in time, says the law of averages, for the next crash.

Burning the Dragons

We'll admit it, when Dragons' Den first aired in 2005 - the same year as fellow 'business reality TV' show The Apprentice - it was kind of refreshing. The novelty wore off after about two months. Nine years later, along with half the country, we were really sick of it.

'Part investors, part pantomime villains, the BBC's "Dragons" are as colourful as they are incredible. You don't have to dig very deep to find dirt,' MT said in May 2014. Editor Matthew Gwyther may have been overly optimistic about its residual shelf life, however. 'The BBC will tire of it before long, and it'll find a nice home just before Ice Road Truckers on Channel 5.'

One eye on the mirror

'Should Tesco be afraid?' MT asked in June 2008. The obvious answer was no. Sir Terry Leahy's (above) mighty empire was in its pomp. But Tim Steiner, Jason Gissing and Jonathan Faiman from Ocado were already knocking on the door - and apparently rubbing Leahy up the wrong way.

'He is very, very pre-occupied with us,' said Faiman. One wonders whether the sole remaining Ocado co-founder Steiner has the same problem with mega-challenger Amazon Fresh now.

Getting social

Were social networks the darlings of web 2.0, MT asked in October 2009, or merely the last words in navel-gazing? The matter would be settled on the P&L. And would market leader Facebook be able to hold off the supercool new kid on the block, Twitter? 'Zuckerberg and his all-conquering chums may not get much more than an hour or two in the sun,' MT cautioned. Well, no one's right all the time. At last count, Facebook profits were $3.7bn, while Twitter was still half a billion in the red.

Favourite lines

'Step forward Victoria Beckham (below), former Spice Girl, part of a glorious power couple with footie legend husband David, and for us a supremely talented entrepreneur in the fashion business' - MT awards Posh Spice the title of Britain's top entrepreneur in November 2014.

'I don't sleep much, I never have. It's overrated' - Harriet Green in February 2014. By the end of the year, the CEO of Thomas Cook would get the boot, before going to work for IBM.

Who'd have thought that, 20 years after the collapse of capitalism's only direct rival, Karl Marx's (below) famous prediction that the system would collapse under the weight of its own contradictions would have become so much less unthinkable?' MT worried about the future of capitalism in September 2011.

'Multi-tasking works, right? Wrong. Very wrong. The great multi-taskers of our time turn out to be the ones who remember nothing and get the least done.' MT put down its Blackberry in November 2009.

Photo credits: Shutterstock, Alamy, Getty Images


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