B1 Intermediate 36 Folder Collection
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Imagine how it would feel to hit the jackpot at one point in your life, but to not even
realize it until years later.
To be involved in the early stages of a startup that would go on to become a multi-billion-dollar
enterprise, but then walk away practically penniless before it had even gained momentum.
It would probably be similar to that feeling you get when you put off buying a plane ticket,
then check the airline website a few weeks later to find the price has doubled.
If you want to feel better about yourself for all the times you wasted or lost money,
then keep watching.
Your slip-ups won't even come close to these ridiculously expensive historic mistakes – I'll
bet you ten thousand dollars.
Let's start off modestly – and by modest, I mean a mistake that cost less than $100
million dollars.
That's how expensive we're talking for the rest of the video.
In 2014, a French train company ordered two thousand new trains for its cross-country
The manufacturer proceeded to design, make, and ship out these trains…only for the French
officials to have a horrible realization.
The trains they'd ordered were too wide to actually fit on the rails.
How could this have happened?
Turns out those officials failed to measure all the stations.
Some of the rails fit the train perfectly, but others were 50 years older and much thinner.
Amazingly, everyone had forgotten that there were railways of different sizes.
The good news is that they didn't need to throw away the trains.
But the bad news is that the only way to solve the problem was to widen all the older, thinner
rails to make them the right size for the trains.
There were over a thousand stations to change, making the total cost $68.4 million.
That's on top of the $20.5 billion it cost to make the trains in the first place.
But if you thought that was bad, wait until you hear about the guy who single-handedly
lost more than $100 million.
Investing in Bitcoin at its low and selling during the peak is an investor's dream.
But the only people crazy enough to buy Bitcoin in its early days were a few technology afficionados
with a passion for cybersecurity.
One of them was the British IT worker James Howells.
Can you see where I'm going with this?
Howells mined a whopping 7,500 bitcoins back in 2013.
Do you know how much a single bitcoin is worth now?
Unfortunately, James got careless.
One day he decided he wanted a new computer, so he broke his old laptop into parts so he
could sell them individually.
Although he had the foresight to keep the hard drive in case bitcoins did gain value
one day, let's face it.
Keeping a hard drive worth millions lying around your house is a disaster waiting to
One day, the man was cleaning his house when he accidentally placed the hard drive in the
trash can.
The trash ended up in a landfill site – and James didn't even notice until years later.
Bitcoin eventually hit its peak, leaving James' collection to be worth a whopping $127 million.
In theory.
Except there was absolutely no way of accessing it.
Naturally, James did everything he could to try and retrieve the bitcoins, turning up
at the landfill and begging his local council to let him search for the hard drive himself.
But it was no luck – the officials deemed searching through the landfill a safety risk
due to the potential of toxic gases and fires.
Alas, James was forced to soldier on knowing he'd made one of the most expensive mistakes
Poor guy.
You could say that investing in Bitcoin in the early days is just like winning the lottery,
and losing the coins is like throwing away your winning ticket.
But what about actually winning the lottery and losing it?
Yup, that's happened too.
Some more careless Brits bought a few lottery tickets, one of which went on to be the winner.
Imagine the joy!
The excitement!
Your mind racing as you thought about how you'd spend the money…
Unfortunately, this pair made a fatal error.
They also had a few losing tickets, so to avoid confusion, the husband tried to throw
away the losing tickets.
But – you guessed it – he ended up throwing away the winning ticket instead.
If ever there was a test of true love, it's got to be that…
In some ways, you could say that their lottery ticket was as good as lost in space.
And it's not the only thing lost in space that's worth millions…
In 1998, NASA launched a Mars Climate Orbiter – in other words, a space probe that was
sent off to orbit Mars and study its atmosphere and surface.
As that orbiter left earth, little did the engineers know that they'd made a fatal
mistake when calibrating the units of measurement on the machine.
The team had used English units of measurement instead of the metric system more commonly
used for that type of operation.
It might not sound like a big deal, but we're talking about rocket science here – kind
As a result, the spacecraft team managing the orbiter were using different units to
the flight team.
Everything was mixed up.
Navigation commands were released in one set of units, and read in another.
And yet nobody realized until everyone was together to celebrate the entry of the ship
into Mars' orbit.
Instead, they watched everything go wrong.
Due to the problems with unit conversions, the engine of the orbiter fired when it was
100 kilometers closer to Mars than planned and 25 kilometers below the level it was designed
to function at.
The engine failed to fire once it got to Mars and just continued into the atmosphere, leaving
a nice crater behind.
The total damage was $193 million.
But it gets worse.
Far worse.
We've all pressed send on a text in a split second, only to realize that we had a stupid
typo in the message.
Most of the time, these messages are simply minor inconveniences or embarrassments – but
occasionally, typos can be very expensive.
This is one of those occasions.
You don't want to make a slip-up like this when you're trading stocks and shares.
In 2005, a Japanese broker listed a new company called J-Com at just 610,000 shares for 1
yen each instead of issuing one share for 610,000 yen.
Easy mistake.
To put that into context, one Japanese yen was then the equivalent of 0.8 cents in US
All in all, not a bad price for more than a half a million shares…
The number of shares in the order was 41 times more than the number of shares that were actually
available, so the broker was left with an order it literally couldn't execute.
Yet even though it was completely nonsensical, they couldn't cancel it.
In total, $225 million was lost as a result of the transaction.
It was so phenomenal an error that the entire Nikkei 225 index, the Japanese equivalent
of the S&P, dropped by almost 2% that day.
One broker embarrassed the whole of Japan.
I can only imagine how he felt going to work the next day.
What's that, you don't think anything could beat $225 million of damage?
Sweet summer child, we're not even close to the level of economic damage humans can
cause and have caused.
Imagine being a visionary designer, convinced you've dreamed up the perfect car that the
masses will flock to buy.
Only to find that, in fact, nobody gave a damn.
Let's go back to 1958…
Ford launched a new line of cars named the Edsel, a large family car.
Supposedly, they'd proven consumer demand through a series of customer surveys.
But at the time Ford had a bad reputation for basing their data collection on false
assumptions, giving them results that would stroke their egos rather than grow their business.
Nobody cared very much about the release of the Ford Edsel.
As if making a car nobody wanted wasn't bad enough, they ended up launching it in
an environment where nobody could have afforded it even if they did want it.
Just as the model was released to the public, the stock market declined, spooking consumers
and putting them off making any big purchasing decisions.
It's estimated that the car manufacturer lost around $250 million due to their poor
research and timing.
But now it's time to take things up a notch.
Before Alaska was a US state, it was owned by Russia.
But in 1867, the nation decided the territory was more of a resource drain than a gold mine,
and decided to sell instead.
So, Russia struck a deal with the US, and agreed to sell them Alaska for $7.2 million.
Little did they know how profitable Alaska would turn out to be.
Russia thought they'd already exhausted the gold reserves of the region, but there
turned out to be vast amounts of rich gold and oil sources still there.
So much so that the US made a profit of $700 million from buying its 49th state, meaning
Russia lost the same amount.
Come on, Russia.
I don't condone colonization, but if you're going to do it, then at least be smart about
You might have thought that sounded like a big loss, but until now we've been talking
baby money.
Now it's time to talk about those nine figure numbers.
The Northrop B-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is the most expensive plane
in the US Air Force, worth a ridiculous $1.4 billion.
So expensive that the government could only afford to make 21 of them.
You'd think we'd handle something that valuable incredibly carefully, right?
But you'd be wrong.
One day, a pilot was on a test flight in Guam when the plane began to stall during take-off,
crashing straightaway.
Yep, that's right – the plane was completely destroyed.
All because there was moisture in the engines and a technique to remove it properly got
lost in translation, resulting in water entering a sensor and making it faulty.
You'd think they might have given the job of maintaining a plane worth $1 billion to
a world-class expert, not the intern.
Luckily the two pilots escaped carefully, and their lives were priceless, of course.
You might think you could never be in the running to lose so much money as long as you
stay away from machinery and business, but billions have also been lost at the hands
of man's oldest enemy: lust.
After Tiger Wood's infamous cheating scandal, the golfer is estimated to have lost $12 billion.
That might seem like a crazy amount considering he was never actually worth that much in the
first place, but the estimate includes value lost by shareholders of his former sponsors
as a result of the affairs, as well as the sports star's substantial personal loss.
Would it have really been that hard to have kept it in your pants, Tiger?
Do you think we can triple the size of that mistake?
You bet we can.
Everyone has heard of Steve Jobs, and if you're a real Apple enthusiast you might have heard
of Steve Wozniak.
But what about Ron Wayne?
He's the third founder of Apple, but he decided to sell his equity back in 1976.
Why would he make such a crazy decision?
Wayne joined Jobs and Wozniak as an old hand with more experience and expertise.
And it was precisely because he was at a different stage of his life that Wayne wasn't prepared
to take the financial risks involved in pursuing a project like Apple.
Whereas Jobs and Wozniak were young men – aged 21 and 23 – with nothing to lose, Wayne
had assets and became terrified of losing everything he had.
So, he decided to sell his shares back to the co-founders.
Wayne once held 10% of the shares for Apple, and guess how much he sold them for?
If only he'd decided to wait until 2013, his share would have been worth $35 billion.
There's no two ways about it – that's a massive loss.
But now think even bigger.
You might have heard of the Dot Com bubble, a huge speculative bubble that built up at
the start of the millennium.
Investors had begun to suspect the internet and technology would be big, but they weren't
quite sure what form that would take or which companies would make it.
Basically, lots of people got overexcited and started making some pretty big gambles.
Two companies pitted as future successes were Time Warner and AOL.
The two media companies merged together in 2000 at the height of the bubble – it was
believed to be a genius move that would revolutionize the industry.
Hey, stop laughing!
Time Warner's cable network and content would merge with the online presence of AOL,
making them unbeatable together.
At least, that was the theory.
It couldn't have been further from the truth…
Firstly, the workplace cultures of the two firms didn't exactly merge together smoothly.
Then, things went from bad to worse.
The bubble finally burst, plunging the economy into a recession and harming the merger.
AOL was hit hard and forced to take a write-off of almost $100 billion by 2002, taking its
stock value from a whopping $226 billion to a measly $20 billion.
By 2009, Time Warner left AOL with a valuation of $36 billion, leaving AOL with a value of
just $2.5 billion.
All in all, the whole thing resulted in a total loss of $146 billion.
Well, if that doesn't make you feel better about every stupid way you've wasted money
then I don't know what will.
Check out our videos about the most expensive works of art destroyed by tourists and how
the US lost a $1.4 billion aircraft.
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Most Expensive Mistakes in History

36 Folder Collection
Summer published on August 8, 2020
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