New Research on the Region

  • February 2021
  • Case

Braintrust: The Blockchain-Powered Talent Network

By: Christopher Stanton, Joseph B. Fuller and George Gonzalez

San Francisco startup Braintrust developed a talent network governed and incentivized by a blockchain token as a way to align incentives between clients and freelancers. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a rise of remote work and accelerated the growth of the platform; however, the founders must decide how to sustainably scale the network. They must also make key decisions around global expansion, feature adoption, and recruiting users on both sides of the platform--all while managing the logistics of a decentralized blockchain token.

  • February 2021
  • Case

SafeGraph: Selling Data as a Service

By: Ramana Nanda, Abhishek Nagaraj and Allison Ciechanover

Set in January 2021, the CEO of SafeGraph, a four-year-old startup that sold Data as a Service, looked to the future. His aim was to become the most trusted source for data about a physical place. The company provided points of interest (POI) and foot traffic data on nearly 7 million businesses in the U.S. and Canada from a variety of providers, then labelled attributes of the data such as the brand affiliation and how long consumers remained at the site. The company sold this data to nearly one hundred customers in advertising tech, retail, and financial services. Clients such as Verizon, Sysco, and Goldman Sachs used it to better understand rapidly changing patterns of consumer behavior. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company offered free access to its data through the COVID-19 Data Consortium to government agencies to help them understand pandemic behavior and make policy decisions. Nearly a year into the health crisis and with a vaccine rolling out, SafeGraph needed to decide how to evolve the COVID-19 Data Consortium. Perhaps the data offered for free should soon be converted to a paid model, albeit on a subsidized basis? More broadly, how should the team prioritize the government sector into its enterprise customer segment mix and how would this impact the business model and pricing?

  • December 2020
  • Case

Thinx, Inc.—Breaking Barriers in Feminine Care (Abridged)

By: Rembrand Koning, Elie Ofek and Nicole Keller

An examination of the strategic marketing challenges facing Thinx as it tries to grow in the face of menstruation taboos and competition from large incumbents.

  • November 2020 (Revised January 2021)
  • Case

Zipline: The World's Largest Drone Delivery Network

By: Tarun Khanna and George Gonzalez

Zipline established the world's largest logistics network in Rwanda and Ghana by delivering medical supplies to hospitals via automated drones. The company is now looking to expand in the U.S. and partnered with Walmart to expand into home delivery. Zipline must navigate the U.S. regulatory space while prioritizing its growth opportunities domestically and abroad.

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California Research Center Team

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