List year: 2005
Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon had tunnel vision on growth, and for a while, the strategy paid off. Chesapeake was #46 on Fortune's Fastest-Growing list in 2005.
McClendon's strategy was to buy massive tracts of oil and gas land and reinvest the company's profits so it could grow more. Unfortunately, McClendon banked the future hard on natural gas, which is expensive to drill yet still cheap to sell in America. This move caused Chesapeake to amass an unstable amount of debt. In April, news broke that McClendon's personal money was getting tied up in company business. The company was under investigation by U.S. regulators in August for possible collusion with a competitor to lower the price of oil and gas land in Michigan.
So Chesapeake isn't going under, but its growth strategy was built on shaky ground.