How did you hang in there in the tough time of Linkedin? (context: Linkedin was a distant #2 behind all the major social network darlings from Friendster, Myspace, and Facebook, for a very long period). Having a strong vision into the future (the separation of one's social and professional online identity/community) and knowing my company is always closer to that vision than anybody else really helped. How to judge a good founding team? In a good founding team, cofounders just work really well together. They help each other navigate through unchartered waters and figure out the truth or the missing piece.
As I was actively procrastinating on one of the final papers for the quarter, I did what I do most naturally - checking out movies. When I was in China during the past five years, one of the things I missed the most about America was its summer time, when exciting tentpole event movies came out one after another, one-upping each other on box-office records. It's the quintessential American cultural immersion experience. At times of feeling down in January - April, I would cheer myself up by thinking, it's OK, the summer is coming, there will be many great movies to watch and plenty fantasies to live in.
In February 2013, DreamWorks Animation, the maker of highly successful franchises of “Shrek” and “Madagascar”, laid off 350 of its 2,200 employees. The restructuring was driven by disappointing results of Rise of the Guardians, which forced the studio to take $87 Million charge. The shocking news begs the question: what’s wrong with DreamWorks Animation Studio, or what’s wrong with animation film business in general? Animation film business has always been a hit-driven model. What happens when the streak ends and a hit becomes a dud? Animation film industry has had a great run in the last 20 years. Pixar’s cultural phenomenon Toy Story (1995) marked the arrival of 3D animation. Since then several specialized animation studios have emerged and become dominant players in this space, such as Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Blue Sky (Fox). They have created some of the most recognized global brands from Hollywood, such as Toy Story, Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and Ice Age. Pixar’s unbelievable streak of 13 hits in a row has become the stuff of legend not only in Hollywood, but also in the entire business world.
Some Stanford lecturers and alumni are involved in the business of search fund, but this is one type of investment vehicle that is often not well understood by people from outside. The model makes sense to the three parties involved in the following ways ... I think: For the searchers** (MBAs in pair, who go raising capital to fund the search, identify an acquisition target company, raise more capital to buy it, run it for several years, and sell it for profit at the right EBIDTA)
This week is the mid-term exam week for GSB. It kicked off with GSBGEN 239: Executive Communication Strategies' individual presentation. I translated one of my old presentations on Business Plan Writing from Chinese into English and just went with it. The original presentation was first used in my talk in China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) to a class of graduate students who wanted to learn more about the business world. For a short 5-minute presentation, it's pretty heavily loaded.
In today's Real-Life Ethics, our lecturers/serial entrepreneurs/Sand Hill venture capitalists Mark Leslie and Peter Levine gave us another intriguing case of dilemmas involving an SEC investigation and a CFO. A few years ago I was just like the protagonist in that case and experienced something similar. Surviving from the dog-eat-dog world of China's investment/startup world, there are a few reflections I can share with my classmates.