When Swedish Furniture Makers Boycotted Ikea, Kamprad Found Furniture Makers in Poland

(p. A9) To encourage frugality in his workers, Mr. Kamprad was happy to offer himself as an example. He was known for reusing tea bags, flying economy class and taking public transport to airports. Even as a billionaire, he dickered over vegetable prices at farmers markets.

“Wasting resources is a mortal sin at IKEA,” he wrote in a guidebook for employees. “We do not need fancy cars, posh titles, tailor-made uniforms or other status symbols.”

He knew about global supply chains long before they were the norm. Rival retailers in the 1950s pressured Swedish furniture makers into boycotting the disruptive IKEA. So Mr. Kamprad visited Poland in the early 1960s and found primitive factories that, with training and tools from the Swedes, could make wooden furniture at much lower prices. (One problem: Some trees harvested in Poland still contained bullets from World War II.) Poland and China became two of the company’s main suppliers.

. . .

He assured his employees they had a noble mission: helping the masses afford comfortably furnished homes.

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “IKEA Founder Built Retailer by Keeping It Simple.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018): A9.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Feb. 2, 2018, and has the title “Ingvar Kamprad Made IKEA a Global Retailer by Keeping It Simple.”)

Amazon Will Fund Employees to Quit and Found Delivery Startups

(p. B6) First, Amazon made two-day shipping the norm. Now, as it aims to cut that to a single day, the company is encouraging its employees to quit and start their own delivery businesses.

Under a new incentive program, announced on Monday, Amazon said that it would fund up to $10,000 in start-up costs and provide three months of pay to any employee who decides to make the jump.

The new incentives build on a program the company started last June to encourage anyone, employee or not, to get into the competitive business of last-mile package delivery.

“We’ve heard from associates that they want to participate in the program but struggled with the transition,” Dave Clark, senior vice president for worldwide operations, said in a statement. “Now we have a path.”

For the full story, see:

Niraj Chokshi. “Amazon Has A Novel Idea For Delivery.” The New York Times (Tuesday, MAY 14, 2019): B6.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 13, 2019, and has the title “Amazon Will Pay Workers to Quit and Start Their Own Delivery Businesses.”)

Clayton Christensen Wrongly Predicted Bombardier Would Disrupt Boeing

Clayton Christensen and co-authors predicted in Seeing What’s Next that Bombardier was well-positioned to use disruptive innovation to leapfrog Boeing and Airbus.

(p. B8) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said it would acquire Bombardier Inc.’s regional-jet business for $550 million in a transaction that puts the companies on different paths in the aviation sector.

The deal unveiled Tuesday [June 25, 2019] marks the Canadian company’s exit from the commercial passenger-aircraft business following failed bets that it could compete with Airbus SE and Boeing Co. in the 100-seat single-aisle plane category.

Bombardier has restructured its aviation division over the past two years, highlighted by its joint venture with Airbus that put the European plane maker in charge of the production and sales of the 110- to 130-seat planes that the Montreal company had originally conceived as the CSeries. Those jets are now rebranded as the Airbus A220.

For the full story, see:

Vieira, Paul. “Bombardier to Sell Jet Unit.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, June 26, 2019): B8.

(Note: bracketed date added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date June 25, 2019, and has the title “Mitsubishi to Acquire Bombardier’s Regional Jet Unit for $550 Million.”)

The Christensen book mentioned above, is:

Christensen, Clayton M., Scott D. Anthony, and Erik A. Roth. Seeing What’s Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004.

The “Amazon Effect”: Customers Now Expect Other Sellers to Deliver Reliably Fast

(p. B4) Many Amazon.com Inc. customers have become accustomed to reliable two-day shipping, forcing other retailers to offer similar service. Businesses are making new demands of their suppliers as they trim inventories and reduce supply-chain costs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in July said it would penalize companies that made deliveries too late or too early.

“It’s the Amazon effect—customers are putting more pressure on their supplier to know where their product is,” said Bart De Muynck, a supply chain analyst with Gartner Inc.

For the full story, see:

Jennifer Smith. “‘Amazon Effect’ Engenders Deals for Tracking Firms.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017): B4.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 29, 2017, and the title “‘Amazon Effect’ Sparks Deals for Software-Tracking Firms.” Where there are minor differences in wording, the passages quoted above follow the online version.)

With G.E. Exit, Dow Index Has None of Original Firms

(p. B2) General Electric, the last original member of the Dow Jones industrial average, was dropped from the blue-chip index late Tuesday [June 19, 2019] and replaced by the Walgreens Boots Alliance drugstore chain.

. . .

The removal of G.E., which will formally occur June 26, reflects a shift in the economic composition of the United States, which long ago tilted away from heavy industry and toward services, such as technology, finance and health care.

And it also amounted to a milestone for General Electric. It was the last remaining original member of the index, when the stock market measure was introduced in 1896.

For the full story, see:

Matt Phillips. “G.E. Is Dropped From Dow; Was Last Original Member.” The New York Times (Wednesday, June 20, 2018): B2.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 19, 2018, and has the title “G.E. Dropped From the Dow After More Than a Century.”)

Google Is Vulnerable to Competition

(p. A1) Google’s once-untouchable online-advertising operation took a body blow, hurt by mounting competition and struggles within its increasingly high-profile YouTube unit.

Google parent Alphabet Inc. in the first quarter posted its slowest revenue growth since 2015. The poor results highlight the risks for one of Silicon Valley’s biggest names in effectively leaning on one massive, if lucrative, business.

For all its myriad arms and efforts to diversify, Google remains essentially an old-fashioned billboard operation with a high-tech gloss—and it now faces more rivals.

. . .

(p. A4) Rivals like Amazon, once content to play in their own corners of the Silicon Valley sandbox, are making big plays at online advertising. In a potentially existential threat to Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, more online shoppers now begin their searches directly on Amazon than on search engines.

For the full story, see:

Rob Copeland. “Google Shows Its First Cracks in Years.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, April 30, 2019): A15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 29, 2019, and has the title “Google Shows First Cracks in Years.”)

Largest U.S. Firm Now Has 3% of U.S. Market Capitalization; In 1930s through 1990s the Largest U.S. Firm Had About 6%

(p. B5) . . . , consider the history of all the companies that have ranked No. 1 by market size. It’s full of surprises.

. . .

Hendrik Bessembinder and Goeun Choi, finance researchers at Arizona State University, calculate that the largest company in the U.S. clung to that spot for an average of 20 months from the late 1920s through the late 1950s—although it was nearly always either AT&T or GM.

From the 1960s through the end of the 1990s, the top company held the No. 1 position for an average of 12 months. From 2000 through mid-2018, the average tenure at the top was 15 months.

Over the past month, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, all with market values of $700 billion or more, have each been No. 1 for several days at a time.

. . .

The single largest stock has made up about 3% of total U.S. market capitalization for the past 20 years, according to Savina Rizova, co-head of research at Dimensional Fund Advisors, an investment firm in Austin, Texas, that manages $517 billion. That’s down from the earlier average, since the late 1920s, of nearly 6%.

. . .

All in all, Amazon’s ascendancy is a reminder not of how new this era is but how old the dominance by big companies is. In some ways, these are the good old days: The top stocks account for less of the total market, and the giants don’t appear to be much easier—or harder—to topple than they used to be.

For the full commentary, see:

Jason Zweig. “Don’t Get Too Comfy At the Top, Amazon.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, January 12, 2019): B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 11, 2019, and has the title ” THE INTELLIGENT INVESTOR; What Amazon’s Rise to No. 1 Says About the Stock Market.”)