This year saw the usual parade of folly, with corporate executives and government officials in clown shoes stumbling from one error to the next.
We've rounded up the top five fiascos of 2014, along with several dishonorable mentions, for your schadenfreude enjoyment.
5) Sprint sings the break-up blues
T-Mobile US Inc. CEO John Legere didn't wait after merger talks with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) fell apart to start dishing dirt, tweeting that Sprint was in "total chaos." Oh, John, it's tempting to talk trash about your ex, but it just makes you look petty. (See T-Mob's Legere Unleashed: 'Total Chaos at Sprint'.)
This is the proper way to talk about a summer romance that ended:
It was a different story months earlier, as the two companies maneuvered toward a $32 billion merger, with Sprint buying T-Mobile. But Sprint dropped the effort in August citing anticipated barriers from US regulators. (See Sprint Drops Bid for T-Mobile – Reports .)
Just a day into his job, Claure said to expect cost cuts. (See Sprint's New Boss Plans Cost Cuts)
Claure told employees in a town hall meeting that the company will focus on price. "When you have a great network, you don't have to compete on price," he said. "When your network is behind, unfortunately, you have to compete on value and price." (See Sprint CEO: Price Cuts First, Best Network Next .)
In other words, Claure is turning Sprint into the Taco Bell of carriers -- not great, but not bad, and it's cheap and there's plenty of it.
4) Feds twiddle thumbs over net neutrality
The year opened with a landmark ruling from a federal appeals court, which decided that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had a right to impose net neutrality rules, but not the rules then in place. The ruling amounted to a big "double-dog-dare-ya" to the FCC to impose Title II regulation on service providers, reclassifying them as common carriers. (See Net Neutrality Fight Not Over.)
Companies and political organizations argued about this for most of the year. FCC head Tom Wheeler seemed to be nearing a resolution in October, separating the "back-end" connection between carriers and content providers from the "retail" connections between carriers and consumers. The proposal would require net neutrality on the back end, classifying that part of the Internet as common carrier, but leaving carriers free to cut special deals with consumers. (See Net Neutrality: Latest Proposal Will Make Everybody Unhappy.)
Then President Obama threw a brick through things, calling on the FCC to adopt strong net neutrality rules for both wireline and wireless providers, including Title II regulation of broadband service. (See Obama Backs Net Neutrality, Stuns Industry.)
And that's where we stand now. The argument over net neutrality has been going on for more than a decade. It needs to be resolved. Until then, carriers don't know what the regulatory climate is going to be and are hobbled in their ability to set strategy and make future investments.
Next Page: Juniper CEO exits ignominiously