Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2000 (Revised August 2000)

Boston.com

by Thomas R. Eisenmann and Jon K Rust

Abstract

How aggressively should an incumbent move when developing an online business that threatens its core product? With Internet competitors taking direct aim at the traditional print newspaper business model, the Boston Globe fought back with its own web initiative, Boston.com. Globe and Boston.com managers face decisions regarding whether and how to cross-sell print and online classified advertising; how to roll out online auctions; whether to integrate print and online editorial staff; and the pros and cons of issuing a tracking stock for the Internet businesses of the New York Time Company (the Globe's parent company). At a broader level, the case raises the question: Are old media companies doomed as the new economy dawns? It introduces the terms "hawk" vs. "dove" to describe businesses that enter the online arena by establishing wholly separate online divisions versus closely coordinating their online and "offline" activities. The case asks: Can employees trained in the traditional business shift to new, digital ways of thinking? Are legacy systems advantages or disadvantages given the need for Internet speed? Finally, what is the value of prior relationships with customers in an environment of disruptive technologies?

Keywords: Corporate Entrepreneurship; Decision Making; Change Management; Internet; Customer Relationship Management; Competitive Strategy; Publishing Industry; Information Technology Industry; United States;

Citation:

Eisenmann, Thomas R., and Jon K Rust. "Boston.com." Harvard Business School Case 800-165, February 2000. (Revised August 2000.)