Special Report

10 Brands That Will Disappear in 2016

8. Ashley Madison

Extramarital dating website Ashley Madison got into serious trouble after its database was hacked and information on millions of its users made public. Launched in 2001, the company facilitates encounters between married people, encouraging: “Life is short. Have an affair.” For obvious reasons, the site’s 37 million members expected absolute privacy. The large-scale hack made 9.6 million credit card transactions public, including names, addresses, email addresses, and amounts paid.

The hackers, known as The Impact Team, told online magazine Motherboard they will target “Any companies that make 100s of millions profiting off pain of others, secrets, and lies.” Perhaps most damning for Ashley Madison, the hackers further said, “For a company whose main promise is secrecy, it’s like you didn’t even try.”

Now, Ashley Madison and its Canadian-based parent Avid Life Media, face around $500 million in lawsuits. With so many identities disclosed, members have scrambled to try to hide the information from their families and employers. It will likely be very difficult for interested users to trust the extramarital site in the future.

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9. RadioShack

RadioShack, once at the forefront of the electronics retail industry, filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of this year, putting much of its assets up for sale. In the resulting auction, General Wireless, controlled by hedge fund Standard General, acquired 1,743 of the failing company’s stores — nearly half of RadioShack’s nationwide store count. General Wireless, in a partnership with Sprint (NYSE: S), rebranded 1,435 of the stores as Sprint-RadioShack. The rebranding took effect on April 1, 2015. In May, RadioShack’s name was sold to Standard General for $26.2 million.

The nearly 100-year-old corporation is officially bankrupt. While the iconic brand will live on a while longer under co-branding and new ownership, Americans will likely see less and less RadioShack signs as time goes on.

10. Sears

Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD), which currently owns and operates both the Sears and Kmart brands, has been struggling to stay afloat for the last several years. The company has lost more than $1 billion in each of the last three fiscal years, and Sears shares down by more than 80% over the past five years.

Of the two retail franchises, it appears to be the holding company’s namesake that is most at risk of disappearance. In the most recent quarter to date, Kmart’s same-store sales were down 6.9% compared to Sears’ same-store sales drop of 13.9% in the same quarter. Even after years of closings, the retailer has continued to shutter stores. Sears shuttered 234 locations last year and another 77 this year so far through September.

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