The millionaire owner of the Segway company, Jimi Heselden, was killed recently when he drove an all-terrain Segway off a cliff near his home in northern England. British newspapers are reporting that Heselden might have lost control while backing up to make way for a pedestrian on a bridal path near his home. Whatever the circumstances, will this tragedy spell doom for an already struggling company?
Segway might not bounce back: The death of the boss while using his own product, says Aimee Picchi at Daily Finance, is any company's "worst marketing nightmare." But Segway was already battling "safety concerns and poor consumer perception," with most people wincing at its $6,000 sticker price and clinging to the memory of George W. Bush's Segway mishap in 2003. This tragedy will be very difficult to overcome.
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Safety concerns should be easy to put to rest: The people who would know best testify that the futurist two-wheeled scooters are actually quite safe, says David Scott in The Christian Science Monitor. For instance, Boston Gliders Segway Tours has put 41,000 customers on Segways, with zero accidents. So the lesson to take away from this tragedy is don't be "careless," and always wear a helmet.
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The company lost the one man who might have saved it: These "gyroscopic personal transporters" were supposed to make riders look "cool," says Al Lewis of Dow Jones Newswires. Instead they just make them look like dorks, and that has always been the company's "insurmountable problem." Heselden was "an amazing entrepreneur" who "might have been the guy who could have finally turned Segway's fortunes. Instead, he'll be remembered for turning it off a cliff."
"Segway turns to tragedy"