Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2010 (Revised May 2010)

Disruptive IPOs? WR Hambrecht & Co.

by Clayton M. Christensen and Tara Donovan


Bill Hambrecht faces a dilemma: should he accept a high profile client for his online Dutch auction IPO? Though it would be viewed as a real coup, what would accepting the business mean to WR Hambrecht? Should he seek other high profile clients like this, or should he try to work with those companies on lower profile financing activities like secondary offerings? Or perhaps he should work with companies that are too small to attract the attention of the big investment banks, who really don't like the whole Dutch auction idea. The case offers a very different setting to apply the theory of disruptive innovation, yet one in an industry that might be quite familiar to many students.

Keywords: Capital Markets; Initial Public Offering; Disruptive Innovation; Auctions; Online Technology; Financial Services Industry; San Francisco;


Christensen, Clayton M., and Tara Donovan. "Disruptive IPOs? WR Hambrecht & Co." Harvard Business School Case 610-065, March 2010. (Revised May 2010.)