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900 Zoom layoffs and 5 other big CEO blunders

·Finance reporter
·2-min read
A man looking into the distance
Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf was caught up in his own controversy. (Source: Getty)

In our hybrid working age, bad things are bound to happen on Zoom, but none perhaps quite as bad as getting fired with 900 of your colleagues. 

Better founder and chief executive Vishal Garg has apologised for his poor handling of the mass layoffs after a public uproar. 

But Garg is hardly the first CEO to make an error of judgement, so here's a recap of some of the biggest big-wig blunders in recent years, from the cringeworthy to the outright offensive.

1. Lorna Jane's false COVID-safe claims

This was a pretty big company blunder, but when the company is named after you (Lorna Jane Clarkson) it’s unsurprising you cop flack for stuff-ups.

This one cost the company $5 million after false advertising claimed their LJ Shield Activewear eliminated the COVID-19 virus on contact. 

The ACCC really frowns on preying on consumers' fears.

2. Musk and his tweets

Tweeting has got former Tesla CEO Elon Musk in trouble

Regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) forced Musk to step down in 2018 after he tweeted financial plans to buy out investors and take Tesla private. 

He did, however, surprisingly win a defamation case for dubbing a British man “pedo guy” on Twitter.

3. Wells Fargo CEO's excuse for lack of diversity

Charles Scharf was ironically brought in to turn the American multinational financial services company around after another scandal (that one related to fake accounts).

However, in 2020 Scharf made comments explaining that the mainly white leadership team was a result of lacking black talent.

4. BP CEO's 'tiny oil spill' gaffe

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico was environmentally devastating and a public relations nightmare. 

It was made worse when CEO Tony Hayward referred to it as a “relatively tiny” spill in a “very big ocean”.

Hayward was ousted within 3 months.

5. Ardent Leisure CEO caught in lie

In 2016, a tragedy at Dreamworld claimed four lives.

CEO Deborah Thomas told a press conference she had contacted the victims' families. 

A family member texted a press gallery journalist, disputing the claims.

Thomas was confronted live on air. 

She stepped down as CEO a few months later.

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