I honestly didn’t think Emerson Lamb would ever “sell out” and go public; however, according to recent Seattle press releases (see below), Emerson has left and the company is now being run predominantly by the Master Distiller, Matt Hoffman. This may leave the firm vulnerable to that “sell-out” temptation. Sounds like Westland is in desperate need of two ambitious HBS grads! Let’s do it, Tom!
This is a good question. One key advantage Westland enjoyed over its competitors was financing; the founder, Emerson Lamb, is essentially Pacific Northwest timber royalty. His family has a large fortune and deep connections with other high net worth families who provided Emerson Lamb ad Westland with significant start-up capital which not only allowed him to reach a larger scale of production immediately, but allowed Westland the time to develop and perfect its production processes without generating cashflow. Many other start-up distilleries must produce tequila or, more commonly, vodka, while their first production runs of whiskey mature in order to generate much needed cash flow to “keep the lights on”.
A fascinating and optimistic example of a successful alternative energy company. I wonder, though, if consumers sign 20-year contract, does that include product upgrades similar to that of a cell phone upgrade within a telecommunications contract (i.e the latest, most efficient panels)? In your research, did you see any indication of deeper vertical integration by SolarCity with respect to its material inputs, such as crystalline silicon, and the various components of photovoltaic cells? Further, it seems much of SolarCity’s product diffusion rests on the price of energy commodities such as oil and natural gas used in energy. As such, do you know if SolarCity invests in these commodities in order to hedge against swings in commodity prices?
Very interesting look at WalMart. I wonder if you saw any indication of a move toward automation within their warehousing processes (i.e. machine movement of inventory from dock-to-dock)? I also understand that WalMart has recently launched a platform that allows consumers to purchase goods online and via a mobile app and then physically pick-up their purchases at the nearest brick-and-mortar store. This purchasing method seems less convenient and potentially more expensive, given time-costs and gas prices, than simply ordering online via Amazon and receiving purchases by mail. Did you see whether the launch of this new model by WalMart has been successful so far?
Fascinating examination of a true pioneer of our modern concept of a multi-national corporation. I am curious about why the Dutch, even after providing far greater financing in order to launch the Dutch EIC didn’t better leverage their own powerful navy to better compete with the British. Did you see in your research any evidence to suggest a contentious relationship between the crown and the stock holders of the EIC? Although nationalization wasn’t formalized until the 19th century, what direct influence (i.e. management, strategic direction) did the British government have in the EIC? This was a very enjoyable read, Vaibhav, especially for a history enthusiast like myself!