This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

Microsoft Sounds
Jammin' with Bill Gates

2. Must Try to See TV

We can't help it. We still can't stop giggling whenever somebody tries to convince us that Microsoft (MSFT) software soon will be the lifeblood of our home entertainment system.

One reason is that we've heard it all before. We heard it in 1993, when Microsoft and Intel (INTC) demonstrated Windows for cable television set-top boxes. We heard it in 1995, when Microsoft made a big investment in Comcast (CMCSA). And we heard it in 1999, when Microsoft made an even bigger investment in AT&T (T).

The other reason we're amused is that Microsoft doesn't seem to understand what an uphill battle it faces in convincing folks it's a paragon of reliability.

Maybe you think it's reliable. But consider the recent experience of Microsoft's own Moshe Lichtman, corporate vice president of Microsoft's TV Division.

Last week, Lichtman was at Goldman Sachs' prestigious Communacopia conference in New York City, explaining how Microsoft's IPTV multichannel video system was on its way to being the lifeblood of our home entertainment system.

And guess what? In the middle of the presentation, Lichtman's demonstration of this cool system crashed. It froze. He had to abandon it.

The day before, we noticed that the Hyatt's cool information displays were marred by a Microsoft error message.

To be sure, the fault may not lie in Microsoft's software. But the difficulty of diagnosing Windows problems only fuels our skepticism.

We fear the day when a cable software glitch pre-empts the last innings of a World Series game. There are errors enough in baseball -- who needs a fatal one from Microsoft?

3. I'd Rather Be President Than Right

We just learned a new lesson from Disney's (DIS) contentious shareholder meeting back in March: You can be right, and it still won't matter.

We're talking about executives Susan Lyne and Lloyd Braun, both of whom were in charge of turning around ABC's struggling prime-time schedule. They spoke reasonably eloquently about the three parts of their turnaround plan.

Part One was to get costs in order. Part Two was to improve the schedule, bit by bit, night by night. And Part Three, essentially, was to pray for a hit show.

We were fascinated. These were entertainment executives who were given their jobs presumably because someone thought they could methodically create success in Disney's TV operations. And here those execs were, admitting that a key part of that success was just plain luck. You have to just plug away, and hope that if you plug away long enough, the gods will smile upon you.

Knew Their ABCs
Two former execs won the ratings game


"In time, we will get a little lucky somewhere and find that mega-hit," said Braun at the shareholder meeting. "A single true hit would make a remarkable difference," Lyne said.

Both were right. ABC got lucky this fall, with new shows Desperate Housewives and Lost. And ABC's prime-time fortunes indeed appear to have turned around.

But neither Lyne nor Braun are around to run their victory laps; Lyne got pushed out last spring, and Braun, seeing writing on the wall, departed voluntarily.

Yes, they were right. Fat lot of good it did them.

2 of 4

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,039.48 -40.09 -0.23%
S&P 500 1,995.65 -1.09 -0.05%
NASDAQ 4,556.5810 -1.1140 -0.02%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs