Oh, Sears. You've come to represent much that is wrong with American corporate culture, especially a CEO who embodies the Dunning-Krueger Effect with every syllable he utters.
Crain's Joe Cahill argues that Eddie Lampert, while Sears' proximate cause of death, didn't act alone in its murder:
There's no denying the hedge fund mogul who thought he knew more about retailing than the retailers made critical errors that turned Sears' struggles into an inexorable decline. But Sears started down the wrong path long before Lampert appeared. And its sad fate isn't so much a story of operational missteps as one of missed opportunity. In short, Sears chose to imitate Walmart when it should have tried to pre-empt Amazon.
Like so many established companies threatened by newcomers with innovative business models, Hoffman Estates-based Sears tried to beat the interlopers at their own game, rather than looking ahead to the next big thing. The company that recognized the potential of railroads to support a nationwide retail operation and foresaw that postwar suburban sprawl and shopping malls would redefine retailing for a new generation failed to appreciate the implications of internet technology for the industry it dominated for more than a century.
As for Lampert, he showed no better vision than his predecessors. When he took control of Sears by merging it with Kmart, the combined company still had an opportunity to carve out a strong presence in e-commerce. Amazon had already emerged as the leading internet retailer, but with $8.49 billion in 2005 revenue, it was one-sixth the size of Sears, and barely profitable.
Meanwhile, two other Crain's stories outline the thousands of other victims of this crime: the company's pensioners and all of the malls about to lose their anchor tenants.
Press reports reckon the company has less than 48 hours to live.