Easily Integrate These Wall Street Journal Articles in Your Class
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Did you know that you can use these Weekly Review articles to easily assess your students' comprehension of course concepts and current events?

With our new WSJ Assessment Tool, they'll complete the online quizzes based on the articles and you'll have immediate access to their results.

You can learn more at WSJ.com/assessment.
THIS WEEK'S ARTICLES
The New B-School Brag: VC Money
Peruse the Puzzles, Have Some Wine
Valuation Doubles for Online-Pay Startup
Leadership Lessons From The Generals
Red Flags Emerge in Tech Valuations

The New B-School Brag: VC Money
by: Lindsay Gellman
Dec 04, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Business Startups

SUMMARY: Business schools are competing for a new set of bragging rights: startups founded by alumni. Successful startups provide encouragement and inspiration for current students, some observers say. Schools traditionally record graduation' job placement and starting salaries, numbers that factor heavily in both marketing and third-party rankings. But tracking alumni startups is harder, administrators say. For one thing, it's not easy to account for firms in stealth mode or for bootstrapped firms, which don't raise funds. Companies that raise funds can be tracked on Web sites like CrunchBase. In addition, frequent mergers and acquisitions among young firms present additional challenges for those keeping score. The article goes to relate how several schools go about tracking (or deal with the challenges of tracking) startups founded by alumni.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: This is a fascinating article. It relates how business school go about tracking the startups (and the funding raised by the startups) founded by their alumni. Ask your students why business school and increasing seeing tracking alumni startups as a priority. Urge your students to speculate on the best methods for tracking alumni startups at the college or university they are attending.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) Why do you think business schools are increasing seeing tracking alumni startups as a priority?

2. (Advanced) To what degree does it motivate or inspire you to learn about startups founded by alumni from your college or university?

3. (Advanced) Speculate on methods for tracking the startups founded by alumni from the college or university you attend.

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


Peruse the Puzzles, Have Some Wine
by: Adam Janofsky
Dec 04, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Competitive Advantage

SUMMARY: This article focuses on small toy stores. Successful independent toy stores compete against the likes of Toys "R" Us, Walmart and Amazon.com by focusing on services, perks and loyalty, rather than price. Examples of the amenities toy store offer are free delivery, free coffee in the morning and free wine in the afternoon during the Christmas season, and free parties complete with Santa and elves. Toys are a hypercompetitive category. Three-quarters of the estimated $22 billion in U.S. toy sales come from four big retail chains and online powerhouse Amazon. The number of small toy stores plummeted 40%, to 1,500 from 2,500, over the past 10 to 15 years. One challenge is inadequate cash flow, particularly following the holiday season. The one thing small toy stores can offer their customers that the big box retailers can't is personalized service.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: This is a straightforward yet important article. It illustrates how small toy stores compete against big box retailers like Toys "R" Us and Walmart. Ask your students to relate their favorite examples from the article. Also, ask your students to speculate on the extent to which the formula for success for small toy stores (relative to their big box rivals) is generalizable to other retail sectors.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) To what degree is the formula for success for small toy relative to their big box rivals generalizable to other retail sectors?

2. (Advanced) Related your favorite example from the article, and what you learned from it.

3. (Advanced) What is it that small toy stores, that are successful, are doing that nearly all entrepreneurial startups could benefit from emulating?

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


Valuation Doubles for Online-Pay Startup
by: Douglas MacMillan
Dec 04, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Business Startups, Competitive Advantage

SUMMARY: As competition in online payments heats up, investors are doubling down on Stripe. Stipe just raised an additional $70 million, placing its valuation at $3.57 billion. Stipe is gearing up as it fends of threats from all around it. Apple recently announced a foray into mobile payments while eBay announced plans to spin off its PayPal division, the leader in online payments. Stripe helps businesses process payments by giving them an easy-to-use computer code they can plug into their Web sites or mobile apps to accept credit card payments. The company takes a 2.9% transaction fee along with a flat 30 cents per charge. Since its founding in 2009, Strips has raised a total of about $200 million from investors.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: This is an interesting article. Ask your students to do a little research on Strip, and try to discern that attractiveness of Stripe (for both users and investors) relative to PayPal. Speculate on how big of a rival Apple will be to Stripe. Talk about the future of investing in an online payments startup.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) Why do you think Stripe is commanding such a high valuation?

2. (Advanced) On a scale of 1-10 (10 is high), how promising would you characterize the current and future market for (processing) digital payments?

3. (Advanced) Is now a good time for new startups to enter the digital payments processing space? Why or why not?

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


Leadership Lessons From The Generals
by: Stanley McChrystal and Michael Flynn
Dec 09, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Leadership

SUMMARY: This article contains excerpts from an interview with Stanley McCrystal and Michael Flynn, two generals. The topic of the interview was the keys to effective leadership. When asked what current CEOs are doing right and doing wrong in their organizations, General McCrystal said that the biggest problem an organization can face is getting the strategy right and then falling short on execution. While execution might seem mechanical, General McCrystal went on to say, it's really an art. It's relationships and its processes and that's what makes an organization effective. When asked about his statement that a real leader should be a decision facilitator rather than a decision maker, General Flynn said that he had come to learn that he didn't need to make most of the decisions for his organizations. Others were equally capable. As the leader, his contribution was to create an ecosystem where the different parts of his organization could speak to one another. When asked when teams get too big, General McCrystal said that "teams" can't grow beyond a small group of people. As an organization grows, it becomes a team of teams. The key is to link them so that there is a common, shared consciousness.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: This is an excellent article on leadership. People who start companies need to become leaders quickly or their startups suffer. Ask your students to reflect on the article and relate the piece or pieces of advice that resonated with them the most. Try to relate the key pieces of advice to leadership in a startup context.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) What piece or pieces of advice from the article resonated with you the most?

2. (Advanced) Express in one to two sentences your own definition of effective leadership.

3. (Advanced) Think of a time when you've been put in a leadership situation. What piece of advice provided in the article did you utilize or try to utilize in your leadership experience?

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


Red Flags Emerge in Tech Valuations
by: Shira Ovide and Telis Demos
Dec 06, 2014
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

TOPICS: Valuation

SUMMARY: In the Silicon Valley, venture capitalists appear to be valuing companies in only one direction: up. Now, the upcoming public offerings of two tech companies may bring valuations down to earth. App-analytics firm New Relic and data-crunching software company Hortonworks will likely go public at a 25% to 50% discount to the roughly $1 billion valuations that some venture-capital firms and big mutual funds paid earlier this year. This reality could fan worries that the valuations of private tech firms have gotten out of whack. There are now at least 48 private U.S. companies valued at $1 billion or more by venture capital firms, versus 27 at the start of the year.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: This article provides an opportunity to talk about how (and why) venture capital firms place valuations on the companies they invest in. Ask your students to speculate on why valuations may how gotten too high. Also, discuss the potential complications that are created when a private firm is valued at one number and sells at a substantially lower number when it goes public.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) Do you think the valuations of Silicon Valley tech firms have gotten too high? If so, why do you think the valuations have been pushed so high?

2. (Advanced) What are the downsides, from the prospective of both a company and its investors, for the valuation of a company to be too high?

3. (Advanced) What method or methods do venture capitalists typically use to place a valuation on a company?

Reviewed By: Bruce Barringer, Oklahoma State University


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