Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2009 (Revised March 2009)

A Chinese Start-up's Midlife Crisis:

by William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Tracy Manty


Now into their third year at the helm of an Internet start-up in China, Ken Pao and Bill Li were managing a totally different company (with a new name) from the one they first founded in 2006. Having changed their business model from a social networking site to an online gaming business came with new challenges. They hired almost an entirely new staff, cultivated new partnerships, and most urgently sought new funding. However, with three years of experience, they were no longer a "start-up" and now faced the ramifications of mid-life. What would it take to remain a viable competitor in China in a new industry?

Keywords: Business Growth and Maturation; Business Model; Games, Gaming, and Gambling; Entrepreneurship; Venture Capital; Investment Funds; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; China;


Kirby, William C., F. Warren McFarlan, and Tracy Manty. "A Chinese Start-up's Midlife Crisis:" Harvard Business School Case 309-060, January 2009. (Revised March 2009.)