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Cold Call

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Cold Call

HBR Presents / Brian Kenny

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Cold Call distills Harvard Business School's legendary case studies into podcast form. Hosted by Brian Kenny, the podcast airs every two weeks and features Harvard Business School faculty discussing cases they've written and the lessons they impart.
 
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In 2021, the footwear startup Allbirds was extending its product range into apparel and expanding beyond its online store to open more retail stores around the world. It was also freely sharing its know-how and material innovations with its competitors to try to scale its efforts to decarbonize fashion, by substituting natural materials for convent…
 
In 2017, Shield AI’s quadcopter, with no pilot and no flight plan, could clear a building and outpace human warfighters by almost five minutes. It was evidence that autonomous robots could help protect civilian and service member lives. But was it also evidence that Shield AI—a startup barely two years past founding—could ask their newest potential…
 
Recruit Holdings, an advertising media, staffing, and business support conglomerate was founded in Japan in 1960 by Hiromasa Ezoe. The company was built on the principle that the company should add value to society. But in 1988, Recruit hit rough waters when Ezoe sold 2.8 million shares in a subsidiary before it went public to 76 Japanese leaders i…
 
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, was launched in 2012 around the simple idea of helping users entertain themselves on their smartphones while on the Beijing Subway. By May 2020, TikTok operated in 155 countries and, together with Douyin (its China app), it had roughly one billion monthly active users, placing it in the top ranks of digital platf…
 
In November 2019, Mass General Brigham (MGB) was the largest recipient of National Institutes of Health funding in the world. The Innovation Office, led by Chief Innovation Officer Chris Coburn, sought to capitalize on that funding – with the goal of commercializing research done at the hospital to generate revenue and improve patient care. But CEO…
 
Founded in 2014, Thinx, Inc. makes absorbent underwear that can be worn during menstruation. But the feminine care market had seen virtually no innovation in half a century because of the taboo against discussing the topic of menstruation. As a result, the startup was competing against large incumbents like Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. A…
 
In early 2019, global beer company Molson Coors was exploring how to enter the cannabis beverages business. At the time, cannabis had not yet been legalized in Canada. Initially the company had planned to test a few products in a small geography in Canada to see if there might be a viable market opportunity. But the team charged with developing an …
 
The Chinese telecom giant Huawei and other Chinese telecom firms, like ZTE, had been poised to lead the globe in 5G technology—until the U.S. State Department embarked on a global campaign to challenge the market dominance of Chinese firms with the Clean Network program. The initiative, launched in 2020 and led by Under Secretary of State for Econo…
 
In 2020, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced a $30 billion “Commitment to Advance Racial Equity.” This included investments in housing, small businesses, and financial literacy across the U.S., as well as in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the bank. Harvard Business School professor emeritus Joe Bower and case protagonist Alice Rodri…
 
In February 2013, US Airways announced that it would merge with American Airlines to create the world’s largest airline. During the acquisition integration process, CEO Doug Parker had to determine how best to combine the two airlines’ core systems, operating processes, and leadership teams, as well as the appropriate scope and speed of strategic c…
 
In August 2017, Baroo Pet Care founder and CEO Lindsay Hyde wanted to continue expanding her pet services startup to new cities. In addition to raising venture capital, she needed to consider her growth strategy. Should she continue focusing on the needs of her early adopters or start tailoring Baroo’s services to more mainstream customers? And how…
 
Gong’s business proposition is simple: provide software that automatically captures, understands, and analyzes written and spoken sales conversations to help sales teams sell more effectively. But can technology that leverages conversational insights make a measurable impact on a company’s bottom line? Harvard Business School associate professor Al…
 
Horst Dassler, the son of the founder of Adidas, cultivated relationships with athletes and national associations – with the aim of expanding his family’s sports apparel business. In doing so, he created the first sports sponsorships for the Olympics, and ultimately became a key force behind the commercialization of sports today. Harvard Business S…
 
In 2007, Alibaba’s Taobao became China’s leading consumer e-commerce marketplace, displacing the once dominant eBay. How did underdog Taobao do it? And will it be able to find a way to monetize its marketplace and ensure future success? Harvard Business School professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee discusses his case, “Alibaba’s Taobao,” and related strate…
 
When Kathy Fish became Procter & Gamble’s Chief Research, Development & Innovation Officer in 2014, she was concerned that the world’s leading consumer packaged goods company had lost its capability to produce a steady stream of disruptive innovations. In addition, intensifying competition from direct-to-consumer companies convinced Fish that P&G n…
 
After years of success in providing quality furniture at affordable prices, Swedish furniture maker IKEA is challenged by the rise of online shopping and changing consumer behavior, plus the arrival of a new leader. The company’s top executives know they had to step out of their comfort zones and embrace new strategic initiatives to stay relevant. …
 
Marcus by Goldman Sachs marked a dramatic shift for the 150-year-old financial institution, which historically had served only businesses and the wealthiest people. The fintech startup operated within Goldman Sachs, offering unsecured personal loans for the mass market, high-yield deposits, and a credit card in partnership with Apple. Harvard Busin…
 
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