The Renaissance Innovator

Thoughts, examples and updates on the Renaissance Innovation Method

Tesla Goes Big Not Home

Posted on June 17, 2014


volt_6Last week Elon Musk, the iconoclastic CEO of Tesla Motors declared that Tesla would effectively allow any competitor to use its patents portfolio. Shortly after, BMW and Nissan announced that they wanted to cooperate with Tesla on technology and standards. Between them, these three carmakers own almost all the market for electric vehicles and as such are natural competitors. So what motivates this recent cooperation: is it just good PR, is it plain altruism, or is there something more calculated?
Tesla has challenged the automotive business model on other occasions: it disintermediated car dealerships and then adopted a switching station model. Giving up the patent portfolio is a similar move that challenges the traditional business model. At the core of these moves is the realization that the conventional auto business model simply doesn’t work for electric vehicles.

What Uber Should Do With the Money

Posted on June 11, 2014


Uber-attractive-man-orwoman

By now, you’ve likely heard of Uber’s staggering US$1.2 billion funding round that values the business at US$ 18.2 billion. One can debate the merits of the valuation, but whatever your opinion, the folks at Uber will have a ton of resources to fund their next strategic move. So to us the interesting question is what Uber should do with the money and, perhaps more importantly, what it shouldn’t. 

Innovating the process of product innovation

Posted on June 3, 2014


175838-Apple-ProductsThe iPhone 6 is due in September. And this forthcoming event stimulated our recent blog post on Harvard Blog Network.

The build-up to its launch will almost certainly follow the Steve Jobs M.O. Device specifications will remain a closely guarded secret until the launch date (unless an employee forgets his phone at a bar). There will be long lines at stores. We probably won’t be able to actually get the product for a couple of months after the launch. And, of course, users (we) will have no input into what we actually get; Steve Jobs’ dictum that “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” is still an act of faith for Apple’s management.

But is this the only way to launch new products? Let’s think for a second about the risks inherent in this approach. Imagine that something goes wrong and a hardware glitch makes it necessary to recall and/or repair all products (remember the iPhone4 Antenna problem)? Or what if a certain feature or the device as a whole is a complete miss with consumers (think Apple Maps)?

Car dealerships are a bad deal for customers

Posted on March 24, 2014



tesla-dealershipLast week New Jersey started enforcing a ban on direct sales by Tesla Motors of its path-breaking model S.   Tesla’s direct sales have also run into hot water in a number of other states: Ohio lawmakers are debating a ban on Tesla’s direct sales and Texas, Arizona, and Virginia are also opposed.   Proponents of a ban on direct sales claim that they are acting in the interest of customers. But is it the interests of customers they’re following or rather the bidding of the powerful car dealership lobby?

Is Facebook Paying Too Much for WhatsApp?

Posted on February 21, 2014


facebook-whatsapp-370x264We could not miss the news of acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook, so we covered it in the recent post on HBR Blogging Network.  With $19 billion, Facebook could have purchased Sony or Gap or four aircraft carriers.  Instead, it bought WhatsApp, a tiny startup that so far had accumulated barely $60 million in funding, mostly from Sequoia.  This is nuts, you might say; although the world of mobile messaging is upon us, that is an awful lot of money.

But think about what exactly Facebook is buying:

The Business Model Journey at Amazon

Posted on November 17, 2013


everything_storeAmazon.com is in the headlines again because it started Sunday package deliveries in several large cities. This offering follows the company’s recent strategic decision to offer same day delivery to most US addresses.  As a part of this strategy, the company is drastically increasing the number of warehouses all around the US.

As we discussed in our forthcoming book,  and this recent post on the HBR bloggers network. Amazon is in a class of its own when it comes to thinking about its business model. We are all accustomed to new offerings from Amazon.com: in fact, since its inception in 1995, Amazon has fundamentally changed its business model several times.  At its inception, Amazon’s operation was organized around a “sell all, carry few” business model: while offering more than a million books it actually stocked only about 2,000. The remaining titles were sourced through several arrangements but predominantly by “drop-shipping”: Amazon simply forwarded customer orders to book wholesalers or publishers, who then shipped the products directly to consumers using Amazon’s packaging materials and labels.

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