The Most Hated Companies of All Time

Suzanne Murray

BP oil spill ProtestMy friend just changed her Facebook status update to: "I hate BP." Seems like a lot of folks share that sentiment these days. Even Representative Joe Barton, who felt inclined to apologize to BP CEO Tony Hayward just last week, probably wishes he'd never heard of the oil company (his GOP cohorts have called for his resignation).

But just where does BP rank on the list of the most hated companies of all time?

The Daily Beast surveyed a group of famous financial historians to find out.

Drum roll, please ...

BP ranks as the sixth most-hated company of all time.

So what companies could possibly be worse?

Here are the top 5.

  1. Standard Oil engaged in ruthless, greedier-than-usual business practices until the Supreme Court ruled that the company violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and broke it up into 34 smaller entities.
  2. Union Carbide won the not-so-coveted-title of deadliest corporate disaster in history when a 1984 methyl isocyanate leak in a plant in India exposed half-a-million people to the chemical; 15,000 people died. The executives responsible recently received their sentence: Two years in jail and $2,100 fine.
  3. The United Fruit Company created the term "banana republic." The company was frequently accused of bribing government officials in exchange for preferential treatment, exploiting its workers, contributing little to the countries in which it operated, and working ruthlessly to consolidate monopolies. Gore Vidal's novel Dark Green, Bright Red is a fictionalized account of the company's support of a military coup in Guatemala.
  4. Exxon was responsible for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, which was the worst natural disaster until BP came along. The tanker spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. Exxon spent $2.1 billion on the cleanup and nearly a billion dollars in litigation.
  5. ITT funneled money to opponents of Salvador Allende in 1970. The company owned a large chunk of a Chilean telecommunications firm and thought Allende was anti-business. He won the election, but was overthrown in 1973 by dictator Augusto Pinochet, with help from the U.S. government -- and "encouragement" from ITT.

For more of the most hated companies ever, visit the Daily Beast.

What's your least favorite company of all time?


Image via Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

Read More