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In conjunction with Columbia CaseWorks, the Jerome Chazen Case Study Series develops teaching cases and materials for use in Columbia Business School classrooms. All material is closely tied to and based on the research and expertise of Columbia’s world-class faculty.
In September 2014, Alibaba, the largest Internet commerce company in the world, was due to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO was expected to be around $20 billion in aggregate, valuing the company at more than $150 billion and setting a record for the largest US IPO in history. In this case, students are asked to analyze what Alibaba was actually worth—and whether the company’s positive attributes (dominant market shares in a high-growth country and an innovative management team) outweigh the negatives (complex structure with potential regulatory and tax risks).
In 2008, the Byrraju Foundation, an organization that provides self-sustaining services in Indian villages, was operating more than 50 water purification plants in the rural Andhra Pradesh region. However, almost five years after the launch of the foundation's SWEET Water Project, less than half of the residents of its targeted villages were drinking Byrraju water on a regular basis. The need for purified water was clear: studies showed that 80 percent of the illnesses in Andhra Pradesh were caused by contaminated water. In this case, students develop a marketing strategy to raise the profile of the SWEET initiative, and increase its penetration rates among villagers.
For more than a decade, Nigeria-based Computer Warehouse Group, the leading technology service provider in West Africa, has enjoyed steady growth. In 2005, a respected international private equity firm makes an offer: $8 million for a 25 stake in the business. What are the tradeoffs in the deal? Are there other ways that the company's cofounder and CEO could secure growth capital? This case teaches students how to answer these questions through a study of the political and economic context, the telecom industry, and the company's history.
Founded in 1992, Computer Warehouse Group had grown into one of the largest technology service providers in Nigeria. After more than 20 years as CEO, Founder Austin Okere was now considering stepping down as CEO. With a new business model now in place, Okere wondered if someone with a more technical background might be a better fit to lead the company going forward. This case asks students to consider what actions were in the best interest of the firm—and, were Okere to step down, how to design a successful succession plan.
In 2002, five social entrepreneurs launched Ziqitza Healthcare, a for-profit company based in Mumbai, with the goal of providing accessible, high-quality emergency medical care. The initiative, which became known as Dial 1298 for Ambulance, gained support and a $1.5 million investment from the Acumen Fund. Though 1298 expanded rapidly, it needed a sharper marketing strategy, and in particular, a way of increasing its usage rate among the poorest residents of Mumbai. In this case, students take the perspective of Jane Harmon, a one-year Acumen Fund marketing fellow placed with 1298, who has been asked to develop a strategy for how to improve the service's usage rate within this targeted demographic.
In 2003, Eli Lilly and Company faced a threat to its philanthropic reputation on several fronts. Consumers were concerned about escalating drug prices, and the pharmaceutical industry was criticized for being slow to provide HIV/AIDS drugs in developing countries. Eli Lilly Chief Executive Sidney Taurel sought to develop a corporate social responsibility strategy that would set his company apart from the industry. Options included expanding the company's diabetes program or broadening support for treatment of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. In this case students study the pharmaceutical industry's sales, R&D and philanthropic giving, as well as regional demographics and their leading causes of death, to create a recommendation for revitalizing Eli Lilly's social responsibility strategy.
For investment bankers, consultants, and entrepreneurs, valuing branded businesses as accurately as possible is of critical importance. This case introduces a new approach to valuing branded businesses, one that incorporates public perception of brand characteristics. This case reviews traditional methods of valuation and walks students through the new approach, using Hewlett-Packard as an example.
Landsbanki Islands, the oldest of Iceland's three major banks, faced a funding crisis in March 2008 as its home country spiraled into a financial crisis. The astonishing growth rate of Landsbanki and Iceland's other top banks during the previous few years begged the question of whether such expansion can occur without strategic missteps. As the crisis worsened, the bank's leaders were under pressure to keep the institution afloat. In this case students examine Landsbanki's history and financial data, the close connections between Iceland's major corporations and banks, and the country's monetary policies to consider the reasons for the collapse and what steps the bank's management should take.
It's December 2007 and Lalit Modi has just four months before his newly launched domestic Indian cricket league is to play its first match. Modi, who previously led the marketing committee for the Board of Control for Cricket in India, wants to create a city-based franchise system for cricket modeled on US sports franchises. His league would rely on a fast-paced version of cricket called Twenty20 that limits matches to three hours. Meanwhile, as Modi considered how to structure player compensation and best attract investors, a rival Twenty20 league has begun, backed by the owner of an Indian entertainment group. In this case students consider data relating to the sports and entertainment audience in India, as well as other successful sports franchises, to recommend how the league could create a marketable and sustainable business model.
LifeSpring Hospitals is a maternal healthcare company in India that serves customers from the bottom 70 of the country's income pyramid. LifeSpring's target customers have low literacy and limited access to mainstream media, place high value on services' proven track record in their home communities, and rely on word-of-mouth for healthcare information and referrals. The company's marketing strategy has focused heavily on sending outreach workers into the communities surrounding its centers. LifeSpring plans to expand its number of hospitals from six in 2009 to 150 in 2012. In this case, students view video interviews with LifeSpring employees, and review advertising pricing and hospital statistics so as to determine what marketing plan LifeSpring can use to continue to reach its target population even as the company expands dramatically.
Lolita, founded in 1960 as an upscale Uruguayan woman's boutique, expanded across its home country and into Brazil under the direction of Michel Cohen, a son of one of the boutique's co-founders. But in 2002, the company hit a snag when the Uruguayan peso was allowed to float freely and quickly lost almost 50 of its value. For Lolita, which had dollar-denominated debt and needed to pay its Chinese suppliers in dollars, the crisis meant potential bankruptcy. Needing cash, Cohen turned to franchising. By the end of 2006, Lolita had 17 company-owned stores and 41 franchises. With a better financial outlook, Cohen pondered whether to continue franchising or to consider other options. In this case students examine Lolita's supply-chain management, its logistics strategy, and its financial decisions before making a recommendation for Lolita's future growth.
In 2007, Kwabena Adjare Danquah, the CEO and founder of Metalex Group, a leading provider of metal and brick roofing materials, was actively expanding his business, pursuing new opportunities in Ghana and a potential outpost in Liberia. However, he knew that his business might become too big for one person to manage, and suspected that his children would split up the company if they inherited it collectively. Should he seek out professional managers, board members, and investors, even if he does not need outside capital to expand? Through an analysis of the Ghanaian business context, this case teaches students how to determine what steps Danquah should take as he plans for his company's growth and survival.
Colombia-based Verdissimo sold and produced preserved flowers. The company had evolved somewhat haphazardly since its founding in 1989 and its primary production plantation and distribution companies around the world operated independently, with unique cultures and objectives. In 2013 several members of Verdissimo’s management team developed a comprehensive and well-structured plan for growth. This case provides background on the complex organizational and business practices of the firm and asks students how the authors of the growth plan can successfully implement their plan.
As head of Yuhan-Kimberly's corporate communications, Lee Eun-wook was worried about its corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign, "Keep Korea Green." While the company was one of the first South Korean businesses to craft an environmental strategy, more companies had jumped on the bandwagon, making it difficult for consumers to identify authentic campaigns. Yuhan-Kimberly had also faced criticism that its campaign was a cynical effort to make amends for the environmental damage caused by its diapers, tissues, and other products. Lee Eun-wook wished to tie the debut of new products to its CSR campaign, and wondered whether a new flagship strategy was called for. In this case students study Yuhan-Kimberly' s financial performance, product portfolio, and its CSR strategy before considering which direction the company might take.
In 1975, Amancio Ortega Gaona, a former clerk at a ladies' apparel retailer, opened his first Zara clothing store in La Coruña, Spain. The company remained based in Spain's Galicia region even as it became an international chain, with more than 300 stores worldwide. The company's growth - and its ability to offer high-concept fashion at mainstream prices - is widely credited to its unique location and vertically integrated model of flexible production. But Zara is now considering shifting more of its garment manufacturing offshore, particularly to China. Will the move hurt Zara's image - and its competitive advantage? In this case, students learn about the sourcing dilemmas and margin pressures faced by an international retailer.