Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A Woeful Tale

I occasionally find business stories that are tales of woe and sorrow.  So here is one for today.

Once upon a time, there was LightSquared.  They were to be the delivery vehicle for wireless across the nation.  They were going to bring wireless internet to the heartland, to farms in Nebraska, to tractors roaming Kansas, to truckers crossing North Dakota, to beer delivery trucks in New Mexico, to fishing boats on the Tennessee River, to hunters in South Carolina, and even to right-wing extremists hiding out in Idaho.

They were literally going to blast the nation with wireless signals....which they had bought and were fully prepared to implement.

They went to the Obama team and ensured that various bundles of money were laid out in 2008's election.  They had various insider connections and figured that they had every single issue lined up.  The federal government would probably end up at some point even financing the implementation to all these remote areas of the nation.....to save LightSquared tons of capital.

Well....then these Air Force folks came along to suggest that signal that LightSquared had bought....was awful near the signal for GPS-type devices.  Then they suggested that LightSquared would bleed over a bit....making all these GPS devices worthless.  An entire new generation of GPS gadgets would have to be invented.  LightSquared disagreed with this analysis in the beginning.....but later would say that the devices were so poorly manufactured.....that new devices were needed anyway.

This week.....LightSquared came around to file for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy.  Those Harbinger Capital folks.....who had invested billions into LightSquared....were screwed.

The curious thing is that if the Air Force had just kept their mouth shut.....we'd all have LightSquared internet around every single corner of America.  We'd also be complaining about our GPS devices being screwed up for some funny reason, and some odd company offering up a brand new technology of GPS.....to ensure no bleed-over.

We would have been operating our hay-baling operation and also watching Colombian soccer at the same time.  We would have been fishing on some lake, and talking to some guy from China about his fishing troubles.  We would have been driving to work, and watching some Irish soap opera straight from Dublin.

It all could have been.