Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2009 (Revised February 2010)

Cirque du Soleil -- The High-Wire Act of Building Sustainable Partnerships

by Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Maxime Aucoin

Abstract

The case describes the history and business model of Cirque du Soleil (CdS). The case allows for a rich discussion and analysis of Cirque du Soleil's business model with an emphasis on how it interacts with that of MGM Mirage. Le Cirque and MGM's business models complement one another: MGM makes important capital investments in theaters tailored to CdS's shows that are located in the middle of MGM casinos; CdS acts as a magnet for traffic for an exclusive clientele that spends large amounts of money at the casino. CdS's partnership with MGM has been tremendously profitable. This raises the question of why hold up and opportunism have not destroyed competitive advantage for both entities: What features in CdS and MGM Mirage's business models have resulted in such a successful partnership? The case is set at a juncture where Daniel Lamarre (CdS's CEO) is looking for new opportunities for growth. Lamarre is pondering the likelihood of success of Cirque's first resident show in Asia at Tokyo Disney Resort, its entry in the Macao market, and a new partnership with two subsidiaries of Dubai World, the sovereign wealth fund of the Emirate. The question is: Can Le Cirque find a new model of complementary relationships that will be as profitable as its relationship with MGM Mirage?

Keywords: Business Model; Investment; Profit; Globalized Markets and Industries; Growth and Development Strategy; Market Entry and Exit; Partners and Partnerships; Trust; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;

Citation:

Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon, and Maxime Aucoin. "Cirque du Soleil -- The High-Wire Act of Building Sustainable Partnerships." Harvard Business School Case 709-411, June 2009. (Revised February 2010.)