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.
TikTok: Super App or Supernova?
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 had roughly one billion monthly active users, placing it in the top ranks of digital platforms globally. But the app had drawn the attention of competitors, regulators, and politicians -- especially in the U.S., where commercial success was critical to its long-term enterprise value. Would TikTok become the first “Super App” with a global footprint, or did it run the risk of becoming a supernova that shone brightly only for a passing moment?
Can Mass General Brigham Diversify Its Community of Innovators?
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 Anne Klibanski and other key stakeholders had a serious concern: although women comprised approximately 40 percent of the medical researchers and physicians at MGB, the percentage of women participating in innovation activities lagged behind. Can the leadership team identify the main sources of the disparities and find the right strategy to expand and diversify MGB’s community of innovators?
Innovating in the Feminine Care Market
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. Can CEO Maria Molland lead a marketing strategy that confronts those taboos in order to bring innovation to the feminine care market?
Should Global Beer Company Molson Coors Enter the Cannabis Beverages Business?
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 entry strategy recommended a more aggressive move: pulling forward $65 million to build a facility in Canada to produce cannabis beverages and seize first-mover advantage. That sudden change in direction gave then-CEO Mark Hunter pause. Should he approve the request, or push the team back to the original, more conservative plan?
How the Clean Network Changed the Future of Global Technology Competition
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. Did that initiative create a new era of multilateral, democratic governance of the internet, or a “splinternet” forcing participants to choose between the U.S. and China?
Why JPMorgan Chase Is Committed to Improving Racial Equity in Banking
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 Alice Rodriguez, head of community impact, managing director at JPMorgan Chase, discuss the implementation of that commitment and how it aligns with the bank’s longer-term growth strategy.