In a world where withholding water from an impoverished nation is a business decision and billion-dollar fines are just another entry on a balance sheet, a company has to do something pretty spectacular to be considered truly evil. We've leveraged some of the most nefarious schemes and rapacious business plans to find out which companies are best at moving forward when it comes to being bad.
Frankly, the likes of Sony with its rootkits and Apple with its secret headphone chips look like rank amateurs. Companies that operate in moral grey areas, such as the arms trade or tobacco or oil, just won't cut it. We're talking about evil schemes, underground lairs, and yes, sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads. We've consulted a legion of Evil Stockbrokers -- is there any other kind? Arf -- to talk us through the Evil Share Prices on the Evil Stock Exchange (the EvilSE) and prepared an end-of-year report that would have the Financial Services Authority gibbering under a blanket.
After all this blue-sky thinking we've got all our ducks in a row with a selection of companies -- in no particular order -- that qualify as truly evil. Feel free to touch base in the comments section to suggest other low-hanging fruit, question whether we should receive a bonus this year, and demand to know why we've left out Cyberdyne.*
Weyland-Yutani Corporation (Alien saga)
Business model: Like so many other sci-fi megacorps, Weyland-Yutani is a ubiquitous corporate monolith with disturbingly blurred ties to the military. The operators of the mining ship Nostromo in the first film, the company spends most of the Alien series attempting to secure a sample of the titular killing machine. The Nostromo's inscrutable science officer Ash is revealed to be an android, a literal personification of the moral-free corporate drone.
EvilSE share price: Not so great. As oily Carter Burke off My Two Dads quickly discovers, the problem with unstoppable killing machines is that they're good at two things: killing and being unstoppable. If the Earth's population is wiped out, the consensus will probably be that Weyland-Yutani should have stuck to digging up rocks.
Dolmansaxlil Shoe Corporation (Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy)
Business model: It was Douglas Adams who suggested that when people are depressed and their heads drop, their eyes alight upon their shoes, causing them to buy a new pair to cheer themselves up. So in an economic climate like the one in which we're currently labouring -- or not, if you're a Woolworths shelf-stacker or Lehman Brothers money-grubber -- demand for shoes will rise. When demand outstrips the ability to make decent shoes, people will be forced to buy shoddy shoes that wear out faster, catching society in a vicious circle of decreasing shoe integrity and increasing shoe demand. The point at which it is no longer economically viable to do anything but make shoes is known as the Shoe Event Horizon. Dolmansaxlil's nefarious plan involved hastening that point for the people of Brontital by building a shoe-shop intensifier ray.
EvilSE share price: In the short term, excellent. But after the Shoe Event Horizon, the people of Brontital forsook walking altogether and evolved into birds -- and could no longer speak of anything to do with feet or shoes. By which point Dolmansaxlil's execs had probably long since retired with bonuses the size of Betelgeuse.
*Cyberdyne wasn't evil -- it just created a product that went wrong. Wiping out every single potential customer wasn't on the roadmap.