Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2010 (Revised December 2012)

Knight the King: The Founding of Nike

by Noam Wasserman and Kyle Anderson


It had taken Phil Knight 16 long years to build Nike into the number one athletic-shoe company in the country. When Knight had first conceived of the company for an MBA class project, Adidas had had more than 80% market share, but Knight's marketing approach had revolutionized the industry, his company had developed several ground-breaking shoe technologies, and Nike's brand had become one of the most recognizable in the world. In 1980, the same year that Nike had knocked Adidas off its throne, Nike had gone public and Knight, its founder-CEO, still owned close to half of the company. He had led the company through dramatic changes as it evolved from a scrappy start-up to a large public company. However, now, barely half a decade later, Knight had just received the news that Nike itself had been dethroned by Reebok, an upstart competitor. Knight closeted himself in his office, faced the wall, and sat there, weak and sick and devastated for hours.

Keywords: Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Initial Public Offering; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Marketing Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Apparel and Accessories Industry;


Wasserman, Noam, and Kyle Anderson. "Knight the King: The Founding of Nike." Harvard Business School Case 810-077, January 2010. (Revised December 2012.)