New Research on the Region

  • August 2020
  • Case

Zoom Video Communications: Eric Yuan's Leadership During COVID-19

In the first half of 2020, worldwide lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic brought explosive growth to the Zoom Video Communications platform, as people replaced in-person work and social events with videoconferencing. Months into the pandemic, CEO Eric Yuan reflects on his company's newly central role in society, and considers how to leverage the platform's broad adoption into sustainable future growth. The case also discusses Zoom’s internal culture—which prioritized employee and customer happiness—as well as how both the company and its customers faced the transition to remote work.

  • August 2020
  • Case

Skillz: Esports and Skill-Based Mobile Gaming

By: Andy Wu, David B. Yoffie and George Gonzalez

Founded in 2012, Skillz offered a platform for mobile app developers to monetize skill-based games via prized tournaments. Skillz had over 20,000 registered developers that had created thousands of Skillz-powered games played by over 30 million registered users (gamers). A successful gamer could make hundreds of thousands of dollars playing competitive games of skill. The company had a gross marketplace volume of almost $1 billion in 2019 and over 250 employees primarily in San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon. CEO Andrew Paradise challenged his leadership team to explore options for accelerating growth.

  • July 2020
  • Teaching Material

Instabeat—Crossing the Finish Line

By: Shikhar Ghosh, Nicole Tempest Keller and Alpana Thapar

Lebanese entrepreneur Hind Hobeika was just 21 years old when she launched her startup, Instabeat, which had developed the first real-time bio-feedback device for swimmers to monitor and improve their performance. It had been an extremely testing 10-year journey to bring the Instabeat product to market due to numerous manufacturing challenges that had caused Hobeika to almost shut down the business in 2016. However, with help from the co-founder of Jawbone, Hobeika raised additional capital and restarted Instabeat, moving its headquarters from Lebanon to San Francisco. Hobeika used the new funding to move quickly ¾ expanding her team, finding a new manufacturing partner, and re-starting conversations with the Michael Phelps Organization. However, her COO believed she should take the opposite approach – slow down and focus on getting a shippable product. In 2017 her manufacturing struggles resurfaced and Hobeika found herself once again seeking a new manufacturer. After an extensive search, she selected a manufacturer based in China, but found it difficult to manage the process from San Francisco. Ultimately Hobeika decided she needed to move to China to keep the manufacturing on track. What started out as a plan to be in China for one or two months, turned into nine months. Hobeika weathered many personal challenges of living in China, but was determined to bring the product across the finish line. By May 2019 Hobeika had returned to San Francisco with a finished product and was preparing for launch when a new, well-funded competitor introduced its own “smart” swimming goggles. Hobeika needed to decide how to proceed.

  • July 2020
  • Case

The Second City: the Future of ‘Yes, and…’

By: Francesca Gino and Jeff Huizinga

Leaders from The Second City, the legendary Improv comedy company, reflect on its broad portfolio of activities through the lens of future opportunities and growth. In particular, they discuss ways in which Second City can further invest in its professional arm, Second City Works, and help workplaces embrace some of the main ideas of improv comedy to improve conversations, presence and collaboration.

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California Research Center Team

Allison Ciechanover
Executive Director
George Gonzalez
Senior Researcher
Jeffrey Huizinga
Senior Researcher
Nicole Keller
Senior Researcher