Top 11 CEO Apologies

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Corporate leaders are eating a lot of humble pie lately with some noteworthy apologies for blunders in recent weeks.

CEOs don't often offer up mea culpas, making this recent rash of expressions of remorse especially noteworthy.

Here's a look at some of the memorable CEO apologies of the past few days as well as a few other notable ones of the past few years.

Research In Motion

BlackBerry's worldwide outage this week prompted an apology from Research in Motion ( RIMM) founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis (pictured above).

"I apologize for the service outages this week," Lazaridis said in a videotaped message on the company's Web site. "We've let many of you down. But let me assure you that we're working around the clock to fix this."

"You expect better from us," he continued. "I expect better from us. For those of you affected, I know this is very frustrating. We're working tirelessly to restore your trust in us."

The outage started on Monday in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, spreading to South America on Tuesday and finally hitting the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday. The outage primarily impacted text messaging and Internet access.

Lazaridis promised that despite the backlog, Research in Motion will eventually deliver all the e-mails. On Thursday, Lazaridis said service was approaching normal in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India, but failed to mention the U.S.


JPMorgan's ( JPM) Jamie Dimon offered a mea culpa on Thursday regarding the company's stock buyback.

The behemoth bank purchased $4.4 billion in common stock in the third quarter, significantly more than expected. It was a poor time for such an investment, as shares of JPMorgan declined 26% during the three-month period.

"It would have been wiser to wait. We are sorry," Dimon said during the company's third-quarter conference call.

This isn't the first apology Dimon has made this year. At JPMorgan's annual meeting in May, the CEO said he was sorry for foreclosure mistakes. "We deeply apologize. We are doing everything we can to keep people in their homes that should stay in their homes."


Netflix's ( NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings gave a demonstration in how not to apologize to customers in September.

Following a 60% price increase for the company's popular DVD-by-mail and streaming package that led to an uproar among subscribers, Hastings took to Netflix's blog to ask for forgiveness.

"I messed up," he said. "It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming, and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology."

But this apology also came with the announcement of yet another strategic move that left a sour taste in customers' mouths. In the same blog post, Hastings also announced the split-up of its DVD-by-mail unit and streaming division into two separate businesses. Hastings said they would rename the DVD business "Qwikster" and leave streaming under the Netflix umbrella, thus forcing subscribers of both services to visit two different Web sites to manage their queues.

Ultimately, Hastings abandoned this plan, but it appears the damage has already been done, with the company's stock price losing 35% since the beginning of the year.

News Corp.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch apologized in newspapers across the U.K. this summer following allegations of phone hacking at News Corp. ( NWSA) publications.

The full-page ad, which Murdoch signed, said: "We are sorry. The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself. We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred. We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected. We regret not acting faster to sort things out. I realise that simply apologising is not enough. Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this. In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us."

Murdoch also apologized during Parliament's questioning of him and his son James Murdoch in July.

The case that prompted an investigation involved the alleged hacking of the voicemail of a murdered girl's cell phone that interfered with a police investigation and led her family to believe she was still alive.


Sony ( SNE) was hacked in April 2011, resulting in the release of personal information of 77 million PlayStation users, one of the largest data breaches in history. It also prevented the use of the gaming console for two weeks.

Chief Executive Howard Stringer offered this apology: "I know this has been a frustrating time for all of you," he wrote. "As a company we -- and I -- apologize for the inconvenience and concern caused by this attack."

Along with the apology, Sony also offered a "Welcome Back" package to customers, which included one-month free of PlayStation Plus membership, and identity theft insurance.


BP's ( BP) CEO Tony Hayward tops the list of one of the worst corporate apologies in history, following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 that resulted in the death of 11 workers and releasing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

"I'm sorry. We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused their lives," Hayward said. "There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I'd like my life back."

This backhanded apology ignited a fervor, especially among those families who lost loved ones in the explosion.

A day later, Hayward apologized for his apology: "I made a hurtful and thoughtless comment on Sunday when I said that 'I wanted my life back.' When I read that recently, I was appalled. I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident. Those words don't represent how I feel about this tragedy, and certainly don't represent the hearts of the people of BP - many of whom live and work in the Gulf - who are doing everything they can to make things right. My first priority is doing all we can to restore the lives of the people of the Gulf region and their families - to restore their lives, not mine."


Toyota recalled more than 8 million vehicles in 2010 following accidents that caused as many as 89 deaths.

Following one such accident, CEO Akio Toyoda offered his regret: "Four precious lives have been lost. I offer my deepest condolences. Customers bought our cars because they thought they were the safest. But now we have given them cause for grave concern. I can't begin to express my remorse."

Toyota placed full-page ads in newspapers to explain how it planned to fix the technical problems, which included a sticky gas pedal. The company also created a commercial titled "Commitment." In it, Toyota admits it has not lived up to standards and that it is working to restore customers' faith.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs' ( GS) Lloyd Blankfein apologized in 2009 or the brokerage's role in the global financial crisis.

"We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret," Blankfein said at a conference in New York hosted by the Directorship magazine. "We apologize."

Goldman Sachs received harsh criticism for the billions of dollars in bonuses it was doling out just one year after the company received a federal bailout.

The company followed-up the apology with an announcement that it would spend $500 million to foster small-business growth.


Who can forget in 2007 when JetBlue ( JBLU) stranded passengers on the tarmac in JFK airport for 11 hours?

This was one, of a group of JetBlue planes, that remained stuck before they were allowed to return to the airport amid a bout of severe winter weather.

The lack of information passengers received during the time and their captivity on the plan, led the company to a PR nightmare.

The airlines CEO David Neeleman quickly issued an apology: "Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that you, your family, friends and colleagues experienced. This is especially saddening because JetBlue was founded on the promise of bringing humanity back to air travel, and making the experience of flying happier and easier for everyone who chooses to fly with us. We know we failed to deliver on this promise last week."


Apple's ( AAPL) Steve Jobs apologized and offered a store credit to customers in 2007, following an iPhone price cut.

The price cut to $399 from $599 came just two weeks after the iPhone's launch, aggravating customers who already purchased the device. As a result, those who purchased the device from Apple or AT&T were eligible for a $100 credit.

"We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers. We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple," Jobs said at the time.

Later, in 2010, Jobs offered a less sincere apology for "Antennagate," the name used to slam the iPhone 4 signal issues.

While Jobs, who passed away last week at the age of 56, said all phones have signal problems and the issue had been overblown, he did offer an apology and said Apple would send a free iPhone case to every customer who wanted one to make up for it.


Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg published an open letter to users in 2006, after the social network launched its "News Feed" feature, which ultimately compromised the privacy of users.

The new feature allowed anyone on Facebook to see users' personal activity, photos and status.

"We really messed this one up," Zuckerberg said. "When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I'd like to try to correct those errors now."

To make amends, Facebook changed the privacy control feature.

- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

Follow on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.