Faculty members across disciplines have developed cases based on their expertise and research in the media and technology industries. Below are excerpts of recent media and technology cases written for courses at Columbia Business School. A number of these cases are available through the Columbia CaseWorks program.
A Primer on Programmatic Advertising
Spring 2017 — Kinshuk Jerath / Miklos Sarvary
In 2016, many industry observers believed that programmatic advertising — digital advertising allocated through automated marketing systems — was the future of digital advertising. It offered remarkable speed and sophistication.... In the United States, digital media was expected to represent 37% of total media spending in 2016. At $72.09 billion, digital advertising was — for the first time — expected to exceed the media spending on television advertising ($71.29 billion) and was expected to experience growth at a faster rate than television.
Apple Inc. in 2015: Vision and Strategy
Summer 2015 — Bruce Kogut / Jerry Kim
By 2015 Apple had become the largest firm in the world in capitalization, twice as the size of the second-biggest one, Microsoft Corporation. More than three years after Jobs’s death, Cook had had sufficient time to prove his own mettle as CEO. Still, there were many questions about the future of the company. What had Apple learned from its past about how to renew its ongoing competitive advantage? What was the best strategy for Cook and his team going forward?
Netflix: Continuous Innovation or Self Destruction?
Summer 2015 — Jerry Kim
Netflix had achieved tremendous success through continuous innovation and disruption—even if it meant the cannibalization of its existing businesses. But questions remained as to whether Netflix’s monthly subscription model could continue to sustain the high costs of developing original content in multiple countries. To what degree did original content help Netflix attract and retain subscribers? Could Netflix charge high enough rates and acquire and retain enough subscribers and to justify its content investments? Should Netflix’s strategic focus be third-party content aggregation, or should the company continue to develop itself as a premium brand? This case asks students to address these questions in order to determine Netflix’s best strategy going forward.
Native Advertising: Innovation or Trendy Trap?
Summer 2014 — Ava Seave
When a negotiator of digital investments at a global advertising firm is given the task of developing an innovative media strategy for a car insurance product targeting young urban drivers, she looks to native advertising as a possible option. This case considers the genesis of native advertising, the associated costs, and the challenges to providing meaningful metrics as she weighs the pros and cons of this option for the firm’s client.
Bloomberg LP – More Than the Box?
Spring 2014 — Jonathan Knee / Miklos Sarvary
In late 2013, Bloomberg LP, the financial information powerhouse, was challenged by a competing messaging service owned by a consortium of banks, many of whom were Bloomberg’s customers. This development came when growth was slowing and news was emerging that Bloomberg’s business practices may have compromised the privacy of its customers. Did these events serve to open fissures in the company’s ability to maintain industry dominance?
Pandora Internet Radio
Fall 2013 — Omar Besbes / Mark Broadie / Garrett van Ryzin
A one-time struggling musician himself, Pandora Internet Radio CEO Tim Westergren believed the algorithm behind his Music Genome Project could expand the musical horizons of Pandora users—beyond the limited playlist of most radio stations.
Fall 2013 — Bruce Greenwald
This case tracks the events leading to the 2001 reorganization of Reuters PLC, a financial news and information company that had enjoyed continuous growth since its beginnings in 1851. CEO Tom Glocer was charged with the task of developing a new strategy for Reuters in light of the March 2000 crash of the Internet bubble and the post 9/11 uncertainty surrounding financial markets. Would this new reorganization secure Reuters’ success?
The Walt Disney Company: If You Give this Mouse a Focus
Summer 2013 — Jerry Kim / Stephen Meier
In December 2012, Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Robert A. Iger announced the completion of his company’s $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd., further expanding the company’s footprint in its Studio Entertainment segment. Was Iger navigating the company on a solid strategic course or was he engaged in the same “empire building” that ultimately forced his predecessor Michael Eisner to resign?
Microsoft's Attempt to Acquire Yahoo
Fall 2012 — Wei Jiang
This case outlines the negotiating process over a three-year period between Microsoft and Yahoo, asking student to analyze whether Microsoft’s offering prices were in line with Yahoo’s value.
Spring 2012 — Noel Capon / Robert Devan
Students consider the sales team’s comments, as elicited through interviews for the study, as well as the wide scope of technological and social changes in the publishing industry, in order to determine how an understanding of motivation and behavior in a sales environment might benefit the regional sales manager.
Disney’s 2009 Acquisition of Marvel
Spring 2012 — Laurie Hodrick
This case puts students in the role of an independent financial advisor who must review company financials and comparables for both Marvel and Disney, data for the youth entertainment industry, Board and shareholder considerations, and key economic indicators in order to evaluate the terms of Disney’s offer.
Fall 2011 — Stephen Meier / Jerry Kim
This case teaches students how to analyze the outlook for Sirius XM through exhibits and data on market share, strategic partnerships, and financial performance.
Scrabulous on Facebook
Spring 2011 — Rajeev Kohli
When two Scrabble-loving brothers in India create a Facebook phenomenon that pits them against the toy giant Hasbro, can anyone win?
Fall 2010 — Natalie Mizik /Blair Dore
This case presents students with an historical overview of Time Inc. and the magazine publishing industry, asking them to consider what strategic direction would preserve Time’s position as a profitable market leader.
Apple, Inc. in 2009: Seeking Sustained Corporate Growth
Fall 2009 — Bruce Kogut / David Ross
Students examine Apple’s history, market share data for Macs, iPods and iPhones and smartphone demographic data to discuss strategies for continued growth.
Scripps Networks Integration of Recipezaar
Fall 2009 — Ava Seave / Carla Graubard
Deanna Brown, president of Scripps Networks Digital, grappled with how to best integrate the recent acquisition of Recipezaar into Scripps Networks Digital and its affiliated Website, FoodNetwork.com.
Fall 2009 — Jeffrey A. Harris
When Joan Ganz Cooney applied the persuasive powers of television to the profound needs of pre-school children, she created an educational enterprise that now reaches around the world.
Fall 2008 — David Beam / Frank Edwards
Students examine the structure of Cablevision’s board, the company’s competitive outlook, and industry financial data before discussing the board’s role during the takeover offers.
Walt Disney’s Sale of ABC Radio: Structuring a Tax-Efficient Divestiture
Fall 2008 — Jonah Rockoff
An analysis of Disney’s sale of ABC Radio, its portfolio of radio stations, to Citadel Broadcasting Corporation using a tax-free structure known as the reverse Morris Trust, and the tax advantages and financial ramifications of the ABC Radio sale for Disney, Disney’s shareholders, and Citadel.
Flat World Knowledge
Summer 2008 — Noel Capon
Can a publishing start-up providing free textbooks find a profitable business model?
Petersen Publishing (A and B)
Winter 2007 — Jonathan Knee
In this two-part case, students consider exit strategy options after reviewing Petersen’s financials, other LBO deals and competitive data from the magazine industry. Case B follows up on Petersen’s situation five years later.