327 episodes

Business Wars

Wondery Business
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Episodic
Jan 14, 2021

Wondery Presents Business Movers

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In Wondery’s newest series, Business Movers, host Lindsay Graham dives deep into the inner workings of some of the most successful companies of all time. From the origin stories of their famed leaders to the million dollar idea that catapulted them to success, how exactly did these companies grow from an idea and a dream to multi-billion dollar corporations? Hear the landmark decisions, the scandals, and the stunning triumphs that made them who they are. First up: Walt Disney. Listen at wondery.fm/business_movers.

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It’s 2003 and in the Mojave Desert, renegade aviation genius Burt Rutan is building a spaceship funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

But while Rutan and Allen are preparing to launch the world’s first privately funded astronaut, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are still struggling to get their space missions off the ground.

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OurCrowd – You can learn more and get in early at OurCrowd.com/BW.

Ride Home Media – Search your podcast app now for Ride Home and subscribe to the Techmeme Ride Home podcast.

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Jan 11, 2021

SpaceX vs Blue Origin | Rocket Men | 1

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It’s 2001 and a 30-year-old Elon Musk has just been fired from Pay-Pal, the company he co-founded. In need of a second act, he hits on the idea of bankrolling a bizarre Mars mission.

But he’s not the only tech tycoon who’s stargazing. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has also got space fever. But Bezos’ first step in the interstellar arena will almost cost him his life.

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ZipRecruiter – You can try it out FOR FREE at ZipRecruiter.com/BW.

Avalara – Learn more at Avalara.com/BW.

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Jan 06, 2021

Encore: Hasbro vs Mattel | Screen Dreams | 6

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With the world plugging into the Internet, toys are under pressure. Kids are swapping plastic play for screen-based entertainment and both Mattel and Hasbro need to adapt. The question is: how?

Mattel’s also finding out the hard way that Barbie’s reign as the queen of dolls is no longer secure. Challengers to her throne are emerging and the first strike against the dream doll comes not from Hasbro, but from within its own offices.

You can find new episodes of Business Wars, completely ad-free, only on Stitcher Premium. For a free month of Stitcher Premium, go to stitcherpremium.com/wondery and use promo code WONDERY.

This episode orginially aired on April 8, 2019.

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A few months ago, Mattel’s revenues were just fifty million dollars behind Hasbro’s. But now that Hasbro’s swallowed Tonka—the classic maker of Nerf, Play-Doh, and Monopoly—Mattel is half a billion dollars behind, and CEO John Amerman isn’t happy about it.

Ever since Hasbro turned British fashion doll Sindy into a Barbie lookalike, the two toymakers have been at war. Now Amerman is looking to make a couple strategic acquisitions: one to put Mattel back in pole position, and the other, to spite Hasbro.

This episode originally aired on April 3, 2019.

Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/businesswars.

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Our Crowd – You can get in early on BlueGreen and other unique opportunities at OurCrowd.com/BW.

Avalara – And, with more than 1,000 signed partner integrations, Avalara likely integrates with the ERP and e-commerce systems you use today. Find out more, at Avalara.com/BW.

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Dec 30, 2020

Encore: Hasbro vs Mattel | Resurrection Joe | 4

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It’s the early 1980s and things are not looking good for Hasbro. The company hasn’t had a hit since Hungry Hungry Hippos; its founding CEO Merrill Hassenfeld has just died; now Star Wars dolls have just about gobbled up the entire action figure market. Hasbro needs to deliver a toy capable of taking on the Star Wars dolls, or else the company risks losing its only source of stable income, the family pencil factory.

But Hasbro’s not the only toymaker plotting to take on Star Wars. Three thousand miles away in Los Angeles, Mattel’s also preparing an assault on the action figure market. A line of fantastical action figures called The Masters of the Universe.

This episode originally aired on April 1, 2019.

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Sizzlers, Mattel’s new motorized Hot Wheels, were supposed to be the top toy this Christmas. But sales have fizzled, leaving Mattel $30 million below target. For the last ten years, Mattel’s done exceptionally well by its investors, but now the toymaker is facing a stock price collapse. To keep up appearances, Mattel starts cooking its books—but the move may end up costing CEO Ruth Handler the company.

Elsewhere in Toyland, Hasbro’s facing an uncertain future. Kids are turning their backs on G.I. Joe and the company’s short on cash. As its rivals rush towards an electronic future, Hasbro risks being left behind.

This episode orginally aired on March 27, 2019.

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Dec 23, 2020

Encore: Hasbro vs Mattel | Boy Toy | 2

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It’s the 1960s and Hasbro is struggling. The pencil manufacturer turned toymaker hasn’t had a major success since Mr. Potato Head hit the shelves in 1952, and it’s starting to lose money. If the company doesn’t act fast, it’ll be headed for bankruptcy in no time.

Mattel’s “accessories sold separately” approach to Barbie has revolutionized the industry. Now Hasbro’s toymakers hope to replicate her success with a doll of their own—for boys. But first, they’ll have to get the green light from CEO Merrill Hassenfeld, who has one iron-clad rule about new toys: no dolls.

Meanwhile, Mattel’s about to roll out a hot new boy-themed toy of its own that will cement the company’s status as the world’s top toymaker.

This episode originally aired on March 25, 2019.

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Netflix vs. HBO. Nike vs. Adidas. Business is war. Sometimes the prize is your wallet or your attention. Sometimes, it’s just the fun of beating the other guy. The outcome of these battles shapes what we buy and how we live. 

Business Wars gives you the unauthorized, real story of what drives these companies and their leaders, inventors, investors and executives to new heights — or to ruin. Hosted by David Brown, former anchor of Marketplace. From Wondery, the network behind Dirty John and American History Tellers.