Summary of “Divided We Lead”

Since we wrote “The New CEO Activists,” published in the January-February 2018 issue of HBR, we’ve seen a growing wave of leaders surging into activist roles.
CEO activism is part of a societal shift that some have called “The politicization of everything.” The ideological polarization in our political system – fueled by social media – has created a highly charged environment in which business leaders are increasingly on the spot to offer their views on complex issues with which they might have little experience.
“CEO activism is just one example of the changing demands of leadership in business, politics, universities, nonprofits, and other key institutions in society.”
His research examines how firms manage environmental issues, occupational safety, and working conditions in their operations and supply chains and how corporate leaders are engaging in CEO activism to influence public policy on environmental and social issues.
The New Imperative to Step In. Regardless of whether CEOs and other organizational leaders feel a responsibility to take a public stance on contentious issues, their companies’ customers, employees, business partners, and investors are being swept along in the societal shift toward greater political polarization.
“CEOs have to realize that Millennials are coming into the organization and expecting the CEO to represent the values of that organization. That’s why every CEO has to be in touch with those values,” he said.
Called “The ringleader of CEO activists,” Benioff pushes other executives to take stands and calls on employees of other firms to encourage their CEOs to speak out.
“Business is the greatest platform for change, and CEOs have an obligation to use their leadership to create that change of the world,” Benioff told us.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Peloton: The “SaaS Plus a Box” Business case – 25iq”

Some people like to say that “Every business is now a technology business.” The more precisely accurate statement is that specifically “Every business is a software/SaaS business.”
What are some examples of “SaaS plus a box” today? Peloton? Apple watches? GE Jet engines? John Deere tractors? Amazon Echo? Kindle? Video game consoles? Fitbit? Roku? The business model is not easy but there are not that many opportunities to create a new platform business so using hardware for distribution can be quite tempting or even necessary.
In other words, the unit economics of a SaaS plus a box business model can require that the business raise a lot of cash before it flows enough cash to be self-supporting.
SaaS plus a Box can work financially, but it is not an easy business model to get right.
My essay on network effects-based moats is cited in the notes and it reads in part: “Nothing scales as well as a software business, and nothing creates a moat for that business more effectively than network effects. Network effects exist when the”value” of a format or system depends on the number of users.
A business can spend what may seem like a lot of money on customer acquisition and still have at attractive business if the unit economics are otherwise acceptable and the business model is sound.
Peloton sells hardware and SaaS, so the revenue is higher than a software or SaaS business, but still that screenshot of the spreadsheet above chart reflects significant revenue growth.
One uncertainty about the Peloton business is the size of their total addressable market.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Is Big Business Really That Bad?”

One 1950 poll found that 60 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of large businesses; more than 70 percent had a favorable view of GM. “We believe today, both inside and outside the business world, that the business enterprise, especially the large business enterprise, exists for the sake of the contribution which it makes to the welfare of society as a whole,” the management scholar Peter Drucker wrote in 1952.
Today, you need not travel to the lunatic fringes to find suspicion of Big Business.
Only 21 percent of respondents to a 2017 Gallup poll said they have a “Great deal” or even “Quite a lot” of confidence in Big Business.
How did large firms go from being a symbol of American strength to being the object of almost universal scorn? A series of high-profile corporate scandals-Enron’s accounting chicanery, Goldman Sachs’s manipulation of derivative markets, among others-certainly hasn’t burnished the image of Big Business.
The problem isn’t merely one of perception: Feeding off the popular esteem for small business, policy makers are handicapping Big Business-in the process lowering productivity, dampening innovation, and hurting U.S. global competitiveness.
The depredations of a few job cutters have earned Big Business a reputation for heartless streamlining, but employment at large businesses is in fact steadier than at small businesses.
Large firms are also more likely to be unionized, and they employ a greater share of women and minorities than small firms do, making Big Business an unlikely enemy of progressives.
The business professors Anne Marie Knott and Carl Vieregger have discovered that large firms not only invest more in R&D than small firms, they get more innovation output per dollar invested.

The orginal article.

Summary of “digital paywall business is growing as fast as Facebook and faster than Google”

The Times’ overall digital business, by the way, is growing by 30 percent, altogether faster than Google.
It’s still apt since A) it is Facebook and Google that have been eating away the news business, and B) the Times, a 166-year-old establishment known for being stubbornly and decorously staid, often to the point of self-defeat, is now growing like a Silicon Valley behemoth.
The future of the Times – and of every news publisher – is digital, and the Times aims to create an $800 million digital business by 2020.
When including the Times’ Wirecutter business, led by Perpich, the company booked $607 million in total digital sales for the year.
Would an $800 million business sustain the Times’ current newsroom of 1,300 journalists? That headcount hasn’t changed in years, to the Times’ credit, and it’s clear that supporting such a large newsroom requires the hefty revenues from print.
The Times’ growing native ads business, for example, requires a lot of custom work, effectively amounting to an in-house ad agency.
If the market is being smart, it’s really just applying a startup valuation to the Times’ online business.
Yes, that’s a bit of a walk, but consider: Since 2011, the Times’ digital subscription revenue rose 656 percent and digital ad revenue rose 168 percent, while print continued to get smaller.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The world needs more modest, linear growth companies. Please make some.”

Yes, disruption is driven by such violent expansion, and the world needs some disruption some of the time.
For the other 360 days out of the year, what it also needs is some modest, linear growth.
Linear growth is what happens in domains that aren’t animated by network effects.
Because the world is full of problems that needs solving by people who are willing to put in the work for the long haul.
These problems rarely provide the world with more platforms, but the world has enough platforms.
Network effects have given us spectacular stories of unfathomable growth, but it’s also given us monopolistic conglomerates that poison the market and its variety.
Capitalism as a system is prone to all manners of dysfunction, but few are as fatal as that of monopolies backed by exponential growth.
The path of linear growth has been the trajectory of Basecamp for 14 years today.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Fastest Path to the CEO Job, According to a 10-Year Study”

We conducted a 10-year study, which we call the CEO Genome Project, in which we assembled a data set of more than 17,000 C-suite executive assessments and studied 2,600 in-depth to analyze who gets to the top and how.
We then took a closer look at “CEO sprinters” – those who reached the CEO role faster than the average of 24 years from their first job.
The catapults are so powerful that even people in our study who never aspired to become CEO ultimately landed the position by pursuing one or more of these strategies.
The path to CEO rarely runs in a straight line; sometimes you have to move backward or sideways in order to get ahead. More than 60% of sprinters took a smaller role at some point in their career.
By building a new business from scratch, he picked up essential management skills, such as running a P&L, managing a budget, and setting a strategic vision – all critical prerequisites to becoming a CEO. Thirteen years later, he found himself the CEO of a $1.5 billion education and training business.
Within nine years, after a stint as COO, he landed his first CEO role.
“Jackie,” the CEO of a transport company, didn’t wait for the big mess to find her.
While there is no single path to the CEO seat, these career catapults can be replicated by anyone who aspires to a leadership position, and could be especially powerful for those who may find it harder to get to the top.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Tackling the Internet’s Central Villain: The Advertising Business”

The digital ad business is in many ways a miracle machine – it corrals and transforms latent attention into real money that pays for many truly useful inventions, from search to instant translation to video hosting to global mapping.
For all its power, the digital ad business has long been under-regulated and under-policed, both by the companies who run it and by the world’s governments.
“In the early days of online media, the choice was essentially made – give it away for free, and advertising would produce the revenue,” said Randall Rothenberg, the chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade association that represents companies in the digital ad business.
“We’ve tightened our ad policies, hired more ad reviewers, and created a new team to help detect and prevent abuses,” said Rob Goldman, the company’s vice president of advertising.
A spokesman for Google, whose parent company, Alphabet, reports earnings on Thursday, said that it is constantly policing its ad system, pointing out recent steps it has taken to address problems arising from the ad business, including several changes to YouTube.
The role of the ad business in much of what’s terrible online was highlighted in a recent report by two think tanks, New America and Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
“The central problem of disinformation corrupting American political culture is not Russian spies or a particular social media platform,” two researchers, Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott, wrote in the report, titled “Digital Deceit.” “The central problem is that the entire industry is built to leverage sophisticated technology to aggregate user attention and sell advertising.”
The report chronicles just how efficient the online ad business has become at profiling, targeting, and persuading people.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why More One-Person Businesses Are Breaking $1 Million Dollars In Revenue”

When Katherine Krug raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter to manufacture BetterBack, a posture-support device she created after developing sciatica during long hours at her computer, it was just the beginning of her success.
Krug soon appeared on the TV show Shark Tank, and the publicity helped her business grow.
All told, in her first 365 days of business, Krug brought in $3 million in revenue.
As Krug has grown the business to the point where it is thriving, she is in the fortunate position where she must answer an important question: “What is my vision for BetterBack – and my life – and how do I achieve it?”.
Krug is part of one of the most exciting trends in our economy: the growth of ultra-lean one-person businesses that are reaching and exceeding $1 million in revenue.
Krug could have trained her employee more or looked for someone else, but the traditional boss-employee relationship didn’t feel right to her.
Ultimately, Krug opted to continue relying on contractors to help her grow, as she has done successfully from the beginning.
Even with her business growing rapidly, Krug has not had to change a lifestyle she loves because of her conscious decision to run the firm the way that works for her.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Mystery of the Exiled Billionaire Whistle-Blower”

In September, Guo recorded a video during which he received what he said was a phone call from his fifth brother: Two of Guo’s former employees had been detained, and their family members were threatening suicide.
“My Twitter followers are so important they are like heaven to me,” Guo said.
His claims have also divided a group of exiled dissidents and democracy activists – people who might seem like Guo’s natural allies.
Perhaps as a consequence, few exiled activists command as large an audience as Guo.
According to the 2015 article in Caixin, Li then penned a letter to the authorities accusing Guo of “Wrongdoing.”
An overzealous officer fired off a shot at Guo’s wife – at which point Guo’s younger brother jumped in front of the bullet, suffering a fatal wound.
Despite this show of support, Guo’s claims have divided China’s exiled dissidents to such an extent that on a single day near the end of September, two dueling meetings of pro-democracy activists were held in New York, one supporting Guo, the other casting doubt on his motivations.
The lawsuits filed against Guo for defamation are piling up, and Guo has claimed to be amassing a “War chest” of $150 million to cover his legal expenses.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Finally Starting Your Business This Year? Here’s Your Ultimate 12-Point Checklist”

You are finally launching a business.
Where do you start? We asked some of the top business minds what you should do in the first 90 days, a crucial time in your business’s life.
Get these early steps right and you’ll create a sound foundation for a profitable, growing business.
“At the very least, you’ll want an experienced eye to look over your business plan, if you decide to do one. At Sweetgreen, our mentors asked a lot of tough, helpful questions-about our financial model, our brand positioning, our restaurant design, and more.”
“When I began, I didn’t know anything about business. I was excited about starting Student magazine, and then we had the idea to use the publication to sell music, too. I didn’t create a formal business plan. That seemed really boring to me. I just thought about the high cost of records and the sort of people who bought Student; we believed we could sell cheap mail-order records through the magazine. We made enough money from mail-order to open a record shop.”
More important, in the very beginning, are insights about your own proposed business that you achieve by stress-testing your assumptions.
“You and your spouse must determine on day one how much you can afford to invest and how you’ll make up lost income and maybe benefits. Schedule regular business meetings between the two of you. And when the business needs more money than expected, you should resist pushing too far beyond your spouse’s comfort level. Another $25,000? OK. A second mortgage? No.”.
It’s important to build your 12- or 18-month projection and build a spreadsheet that shows a driver of the business, but ultimately the only thing that’s certain is that that spreadsheet probably won’t be right, so the only thing they’re betting on is you as the founder.

The orginal article.