Target’s Target

The article I chose to analyze was “Target Goes After Younger Market with Small, Focused Stores,” which was posted to the Wall Street. The retailer has developed new strategies in attempt to gain a competitive advantage over industry rivals. As of recently, Target has opened smaller shops in select cities and college towns to stimulate sales.

Over the past two years, Target has experienced a decrease in existing store sales, and a nearly 12% drop in stock price. To revive the declining business, CEO Brian Cornell and management plan to “move away from its traditional store model to enter new markets. “We had become really good at stamping out the same store in different markets,” Chief Operating Officer John Mulligan states. “For these formats, we are rethinking everything.” Management at Target believes that these small-box stores is critical to the company’s future growth outlook.

Target is shifting it’s focus to opening these smaller stores in densely populated urban areas and equipping them with custom inventory tailored to their respective environment. Doing so will help “appeal to younger shoppers who are increasingly buying essentials online,” and potentially boost sales.

It will be interesting to continue to monitor Target’s expansion into a new demographic and if management is successfully able to roll-out it’s strategic plan. Perhaps this change will drive the necessary change in Target’s future sales performance.

 

 

 

 

 

Tesla Zapping the Competition

 The article I chose to analyze was “Tesla Sets Price for Self-Driving Feature, Lays Groundwork for Ride-Hailing Service.” Tesla Motors Inc. sets its retail price for the autonomous-driving feature offered in all the company’s newest vehicles.

After many years, the dream of having a fully functional, self driving car cheaply available in the market is now a reality. For only $8,000 to $10,000, the “Full Self-Driving Capability” hardware can be acquired, allowing users to have an Uber or Lyft type experience in the comfort of their own vehicle.

As we constantly discuss in class, Tesla is one of the most visionary startup companies of our generation. They’re always bringing new products and ideas to the market, revolutionizing the way we think of automobiles and modern-day transportation. Many would attribute such success to Tesla founder, Elon Musk and management, which abide by the four step process in the organizational change process;

Tesla Motors Inc. recognized a way to enhance modern-day transportation and positively impact people’s lives through technology. Thus, Tesla decided to pursue the idea of self driving cars.

Tesla then had to identify any obstacles to change, including the development of extremely advanced technology, the costs associated with the new feature and how it would impact current product prices, and gaining regulator approval.

 Although the company is still working out the logistics and legal requirements mentioned in step two, management was still able to introduce and implement change and help make self-driving cars a reality. When the product finally does become available, Tesla will compare pre-change performance with its performance post-change and use the data for the benchmarking of future projects.

It will be interesting to continue to monitor the development of Tesla’s self-driving cars and if management is successfully able to bring such a product to market and at an affordable cost.

Article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/tesla-sets-price-for-self-driving-feature-lays-groundwork-for-ride-hailing-service-1476993474

The Snapchat Spectacles

The article I chose to analyze was “Snapchat Releases First Hardware Product, Spectacles.” 26-year-old Snap Inc. founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel is amidst developing the company’s latest product, the Spectacle. These video recording glasses provide a “hands-free camera experience” and are complimentary to Snapchat, a mobile application valued at $22 billion.

The Spectacles provides a revolutionary way of interacting with your mobile device, using “a 115-degree-angle lens, the Spectacles are wider than a typical smartphone’s and much closer to the eyes’ natural field of view. The video it records is circular, more like human vision. As you record, your hands are free to pet dogs, hug babies or flail around at a concert. You can reach your arms out to people you’re filming, instead of holding your phone up.” The product will cost $129.99 and only be available to a select group of people for the time being. With Spectacles, Spiegel hopes to branch into the physical camera market and potentially dominate image production.

Such a device is a byproduct of Snap Inc.’s endless creativity, appetite for entrepreneurship and its more than 1,000 dedicated employees and offices spread over 3 continents.

Spiegel and management saw the opportunity to develop a new product and capitalize on their rapidly growing user base. Creativity sparked and the ensuing risks were taken, allowing Snap Inc. to provide customers with a new and improved good and service.

It will be interesting to continue to monitor Spiegel’s new Spectacles and its synergy with Snapchat. With the glasses, Snap Inc. is expected to see an increase in its 150 million daily users and engagement levels from both users and content creators.

Article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/snapchat-releases-first-hardware-product-spectacles-1474682719

A Look into Startup Culture

The inspiration behind this post was my summer internship at Jet.com, where I experienced the organizational culture of the E-commerce startup.

Market retailer, Jet.com, which recently sold to Wal-Mart for $3.3 billion, provides vast selections of goods at low prices and with fast delivery. While strong visionary leaders were critical in the startup’s development and success, equally as important, is Jet’s phenomenal organizational culture. Founder and CEO, Marc Lore believes that sharing values and expectations is paramount in achieving company goals. Using his position, Lore was highly influential in establishing Jet’s organizational culture. Lore impacted how members behaved, their willingness to change, ideas and innovations, and the general atmosphere of the company. Lore is “constantly asking people at Jet if they’re happy” and states how important it is for him “to know that they love working here [Jet] and think it’s the best place they’ve ever worked.” He believes that transparency and strong communication at every level is key in creating a productive and rewarding working place.  As one employee detailed it, “I feel empowered to make decisions. But my boss and 20 other people are empowered to overrule them.” While there was structure in the management hierarchy system, everyone felt as though they were making a valuable contribution to the company, and likely performed better as a result.

It’s pretty difficult, however, to stay productive at Jet HQ, where there are free weekly lunches, unlimited vacation days, two built-in-kitchens equipped with free alcohol, monthly employee events and an entire lobby area filled with table tennis and pool tables! By offering such great perks, Jet attracted some of the smartest and most motivated employees all while building a strong organizational culture. Adding this to Jet’s strong business plan and vision, they became exceedingly more appealing to a buyer such as Wal-Mart.

While I am grateful to have had experienced Jet’s unique culture, I wish I had some insight as to how Wal-Mart’s culture compares. Although both companies exist in the same market, they are vastly different in size (1.4 million employees compared to 700 employees) and structure. (http://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-employees-pay). Assuming the cultures are different, it would be extremely interesting to see which culture consumes the other. It’s amazing how the culture and the type of manager and employees can impact a company’s performance. I completely agree with Marc Lore’s strategy on building a strong company culture, to increase productivity and trust between employees.

Article link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/27/technology/jetcoms-strategy-low-prices-fast-delivery-happy-workers.html?_r=0/meet-jet-ceo-marc-lore-e-commerces-pitchman-1470659844

 

An Alternative to Traditional TV

“Television fans who want to break free from a traditional TV subscription now have more options than ever to pay for what they want to watch, and how they want to watch it.”

Sony joins Apple, Dish Network, HBO and others in the race to capitalize on the increasing 10.6 million individuals who “pay for Internet but do not subscribe to television,” with its newly released Playstation Vue. Starting at $49.99 a month, the service provides a “bundle of [approximately 50] channels along with a personalized searchable approach to watching live and on-demand television.” If desired, the consumer can purchase additional subscription features such as “$20 a month for Sling TV, $14.99 for HBO’s stand-alone streaming service, and $7.99 a month for Netflix” to further their viewer experience. This feature will allow households to customize their plan to one that fits both practically and economically.         Sony anticipates to capture its already established gamer-community, and a younger demographic. Currently, the service is only available to those who own a Playstation 3 or 4 console, and are stationed in New York, Chicago, or Philadelphia. The company aims to expand their market population by branching their service into other cities across America, and making it function on multiple platforms such as the iPad and iPhone. The demands of consumers in the TV service industry are changing dramatically. According to Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG Research, “The reality is, each individual service is not all that important, but when you start to layer lots of different options together, you have the ability to piece together your own bundle.” If Sony’s Playstation Vue subscription-addition feature is able to tend to a large portion of their goal demographic, they will immediately begin to see high profit. However, if Sony is unable to satisfy the demands of their consumers, competitors and substitute services will continue to dominate the market.

My thoughts: By creating an extremely customizable and affordable service, Sony can potentially gain market share from other companies. People who normally couldn’t afford TV service are now able to with a price unique to the household. With increased accessibility, comes an increase in demand for Playstations. As more consoles are purchased, complimentary goods, such as controllers, headphones, keyboards, and video games, are bought as well. Video game companies such as Activision, Nintendo, and EA, would all be profiting from the popularity and success of the Playstation Vue. In addition, a cheaper and customizable TV plan reduces the annual cost of the basket of goods and services that the typical household purchases each month, and therefore decreases the cost of living. The money saved from the plan, can be put towards other necessities and wants, stimulating businesses throughout America.

 

Articles:

https://www.techhive.com/article/3135844/streaming-services/streaming-tv-bundle-roundup-everything-we-know-so-far.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/19/business/media/sonys-playstation-vue-is-introduced-in-3-cities.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revolutionizing the Cellular Industry

Republic Wireless and FreedomPop are two surging companies in the cellular carrier industry, who aspire to compete with Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile USA, through the strategic placement of Wi-Fi routers to significantly reduce cellphone costs. Unlike traditional wireless carriers, who mainly focus on cell tower connections, and rarely resort to Wi-Fi, the duo rely on locations with pre-established Wi-Fi spots, and minimal cellular network usage. For the past five years, the alternative method has been steadily gaining subscribers and recognition from companies such as Google and Cablevision. Republic Wireless experiences a 13% growth in its customer base each month, and every four to six months, FreedomPop’s customer base doubles. Both Google and Cablevision plan to model the Wi-Fi powered service, producing a greatly reduced price in comparison to those of its competitors. Cablevision recently announced its $30 a month plan, whereas traditional cellular services costs approximately $100 a month. Republic Wireless customers currently offer its services for a very affordable $10 a month. While Republic Wireless and FreedomPop trump its competition price-wise, there is much debate over whether Wi-Fi connection is superior to cellular. When stationary, Wi-Fi is clearly the logical choice to consumers. However, if the consumer is active, and constantly moving around, then cellular is ideal, as your device is able to switch from one cell tower to another. Independent telecom analyst, Jan Dawson, states that “people would inevitably lose connections when they are on the go — riding a train or even just taking a walk.” Dawson also mentions that there are “many places where Wi-Fi doesn’t reach, and the quality of Wi-Fi that you can find is often subpar.” Despite what Dawson claims, FreedomPop has access to 10 million Wi-Fi hotspots, and Republic Wireless recruited bandwidth.com, who developed a handover method, “a technique to move calls seamlessly between different Wi-Fi networks and cell towers.”

Republic Wireless and FreedomPop “demonstrate just how disruptive [to the carrier industry] a Wi-Fi-first operator can be, and just how much cost they can take out,” says Craig Moffett, a telecom analyst for MoffettNathanson. By creating an extremely affordable service, the duo can potentially gain market share from the traditional carriers. People who normally couldn’t afford cellular coverage are now able to with either a free or significantly reduced monthly fee. With increased accessibility to cellular coverage, comes an increase in demand for cellphones and tablets. As these devices are purchased, complimentary goods, such as cases, headphones, screen protectors and cleaners, and camera attachments, are bought as well. Major companies such as Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft, would all be profiting from the popularity and success of the increased Wi-Fi base.

In addition, a cheaper cellular data plan reduces the annual cost of the basket of goods and services that the typical household purchases each month, and therefore decreases the cost of living. The money saved from the plan, can be put towards other necessities and wants, stimulating businesses throughout America.

My Thoughts: The introduction of two startup companies, in an industry where capital and networking dominate, is extremely appealing from both a student’s, and investor’s standpoint. Both Republic Wireless and FreedomPop have discovered a ground-breaking technological advancement, which could potentially revolutionize how Wi-Fi and cellular data provide service are leveraged to provide an affordable service for a larger consumer segment.  However, with the introduction of new players in a highly competitive space, it will be interesting to monitor the duo’s growth rate, and to see if they fall prey to their rivals.

Articles:

https://techcrunch.com/tag/freedompop/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/16/technology/small-phone-companies-use-wi-fi-to-punch-above-their-weight.html?_r=0