NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Spring 2011

Instructor Details

Warner, Charles



By appointment and Monday 4:00 -4:50 pm



Course Meetings

MW, 4:55pm to 6:10pm

Tisch T-UC19


Course Description and Learning Goals

Strategy is about winning.  This course will focus on designing winning strategies for digital businesses with an emphasis on the concept of competing on analytics and using online metrics to guide strategic decision making for enterprises that depend on the Internet. 

Most strategic thinking was published in the 1980s and 1990s before the advent of the Internet.  Since then, advances in technology have brought the cost of data storage, distribution, and processing to virtually zero.  Therefore, the most significant competitive advantage – barriers to entry – has essentially been eliminated in many enterprises that are Internet dependent. 

As Chris Anderson points out in his book Free: The Future of a Radical Price, established businesses must now compete with content, products, and services that online competitors are giving away free.  This course will teach students how to use web analysis tools to design strategies to build web traffic so that an organization can compete with free (or freemium) offers and maximize its effectiveness on the Internet.

Working in teams, students will recommend competitive strategies for current enterprises that will help them win. 

Learning Goals

Students will learn how to recognize the various competitive strategies Internet companies are using to gain competitive advantage, and then they will learn how to apply various strategies to solve a current competitive problem.


Assessment Components


1.      Three assignments                                  60%

2.      Final case                                                 25%

3.      Group grade                                               15%



Assignments: During the eight-week semester, there will be one budget assignment that is to be completed individually and two case analyses/recommendations and one final case analysis/recommendation to be completed in teams.  The budget assignment should be done in Excel and the case analyses/recommendations should be done in PowerPoint.  You should submit assignments electronically to cwarner@stern.nyu.edu before the time of the class in which they are due.

Teams: Students will work in teams, and each team will present two case analyses/recommendations during the eight-week period and a final strategy recommendation in the final week.  Students will grade each member of their team, and an individual’s team grade will be an average of the grades given by team members.  For team assignments, all students on a team will receive the same grade – the one I give to team’s analysis/recommendations.  In the Courses section in this class’s area on my website, see “Guidelines for Teams” and “Team Grades Assignment” for more information.

Case analyses/recommendations: Teams will present their analysis/recommendations in class using PowerPoint or other appropriate presentation software such as Prezi or Keynote.

Classroom Policies: Do not bring your laptops to class because they can be a disturbance to other students, guest lecturers, and teachers. Smartphone or cell phone use is never allowed in class.



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges  as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well  you actually perform in this course.



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.


Group Projects

Guidelines for Group Projects

Business activities involve group effort. Consequently, learning how to work effectively in a group is a critical part of your business education.

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. As such, it is in your interest to be involved in all aspects of the project. Even if you divide the work rather than work on each piece together, you are still responsible for each part. The group project will be graded as a whole:   its different components will not be graded separately. Your exams may contain questions that are based on aspects of your group projects.

It is recommended that each group establish ground rules early in the process to facilitate your joint work including a problem-solving process for handling conflicts. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to permit problems to develop to a point where they become serious. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to my attention and I will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, I will consider this feedback during grading.


How to Present a Case Analysis/Recommendations

In some instances, cases will presented orally by the business principals and not written out.  In other instances cases will be available as Word document on my website.  For a case that is in document form, read it at your normal speed without stopping to take notes.  Read the assignment at the end of the case (if there is an assignment), and then carefully read the entire case again, taking notes in the margins as you read. 

Your team should identify the problems in the case and reach consensus on recommended strategies and solutions.

For a case that is presented orally, take extensive notes, and then study your notes as described above.

Your team’s task is to identify problems in the case, formulate recommendations to solve these problems, and then create a PowerPoint presentation that shows your analysis/recommendations with the following four headings:

1.             Summary of the facts presented.

2.             Analysis of the problems.

3.             Recommendations for solutions to the problems.

4.             Implicationsyour recommendations will have on the operation of the organization.

Follow the above format even if there are Assignment questions at the end of the case.

Important: Weave the answers to the Assignment questions into your “Recommendations” section.

As you prepare your presentation, you must include appropriate references to the assigned reading.  Your references should be in the following formats: For books and articles, (Brandenburger & Nalebuff, 1996.  p. 126) and for Web articles and material:  (“How to Develop a Winning Strategy,” http://www.charleswarner.us/indexppr.html.  February, 2010).  The date in the web reference is the month and year you accessed the material on a website.  Do not include a Bibliography or References section at the end of your presentation unless you refer to books or articles that are not Required or Recommended Reading. 

The references should be asterisked and put in the Notes section of a slide.


Begin your presentation with a concise synthesis of the facts in the case, under the heading “Summary.”  Stick to two or three bullet points and do not include any reference to problems or recommendations for solutions in the Summary section.

This section of your case analysis/recommendation comes next, and should be headed “Analysis.”  This section should list the problems and major challenges you discover.  Management cannot solve strategic problems/challenges unless they can first identify them.  Recognizing strategic problems and issues and then understanding the nature of the challenges is the beginning of all strategic planning.  Solutions generally fall in place relatively easily once problems are recognized and understood.  There are often several viable strategic solutions to problems in a case, but you cannot implement any of them if you cannot identify them.  It is important that there are references to the assigned reading in the Analysis section.  Your grade will depend, to a large degree, on how many appropriate, relevant, references you include in the Notes section of your presentation.

Next, present your recommendations on to how to solve the strategic problems and challenges in a section titled “Recommendations.”  Put the solutions in order of priority.  It is vitally important that you include references to the assigned reading in the Recommendations section, too.  If there are questions or assignments at the end of the case, weave your answers into the Recommendations section of your presentation.

Finally, in your Implications section you should elaborate what implications your recommendations will have on the operation of the organization in the short and long term and what broader policy implications your recommendations might have not only on your organization but also on the larger community, if there are any.  In other words, if your recommendations are implemented, what changes will the organization and the community in general have to make in the way they do things now and in the future?  Include appropriate references in this section, too.


Professional Responsibilities For This Course



In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:


Classroom Norms


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 

Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 

Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


Course Outline

Course Schedule

Monday, January 24 Introductions: Why you’re taking the course and what you hope to get out of it.  Go over syllabus.  
What Is Strategy? presentation in class by instructor.  READ: Web Analytics 2.0 Chapters 1 and HBR article 
“Competing on Analytics.”  VIEW: Mary Meeker's Internet Presentation - 2010 in the Presentations section of 
my website (http://charleswarner.us/.  
Wednesday, January 26
Discuss current online strategic issues in the news.  Assign teams and leaders. 
The New Media Economy and Internet Business Models and How to Set Up a Website presentations 
by instructor.  Go over “Freebird.com Budget” assignment.  READ: Web Analytics Chapts. 2 and 3 and 
“How to Develop a Winning Strategy” in the Papers By CW section of my website.  ASSIGNMENT #1: 
“Freebird Budget” case – see Assignment #1 in Courses section.  
DUE via e-mail to cwarner@stern.nyu.edu before class Monday, February 7.  


Monday, January 31

GUEST SPEAKER (Online measurement and analytics executive from Compete). READ:  Web Analytics 2.0 Chapters 4 
and HBR article “What’s Your Google Strategy?” VIEW: “P&G’s Innovation Leadership Principles” in the Presentation 
section of my website.

Wednesday, February 2

GUEST SPEAKER (Current state of strategy, Chief Knowledge Officer, Booz & Co.).  READ: Web Analytics Chapts. 5 and 6, “Traffic Jam” in the Library section of my website and  the Six Principles of Effective Online Advertising in the Presentation section of my website.


Monday, February 7
GUEST SPEAKER (Google ad agency sales executive).  READ:  Web Analytics Chapters 7.  DUE: Via email to cwarner@stern.nyu.edu before class, Assignment #1 – Freebird.com Budget.

Wednesday, February 9

GUEST SPEAKER.  The Founder and CEO of Blue Engine will present our first case.  ASSIGNMENT #2 – Blue Engine team analysis/recommendations, DUE Monday, February 21.  READ: Web Analytics Chapters 8 and 9, HBR article “Creating Shared Value,” and “Website Evaluation” in the Library section of my website.


Monday, February 14
GUEST SPEAKER (ESPN Asset Management Executive).  READ:  Web Analytics 2.0 Chapters 10 and HBR article “Branding in the Digital Age.”

Wednesday, February 16

GUEST SPEAKER (Mobile Marketing Executive).  READ: Web Analytics 2.0Chapts. 11 and 12 and “Mobile Metrics Still Outpace Online” at http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=142475&nid=122400 .  COMPLETE: “Feedback Guidelines” in the Courses section of my website and email it to cwarner@stern.nyu.edu.


Monday, February 21

NO CLASS – PRESIDENTS DAY.  TEAMS PRESENT: Blue Engine analysis/recommendations online on Blackboard.  READ: Web Analytics 2.0 Chapters 13 and 14.  READ: “Rich Media” in the Library section of my website.

Wednesday, February 23

GUEST SPEAKER:  Present RecycleBank case study.  READ:FreeChapts. 1-4, “Internet Marketing Guidelines” in the Library section of my website and “IAB: Building Brands Online” in the Presentation section of my website. VIEW: Facebook Brand Pages For Dummies http://www.slideshare.net/soapcreative/facebook-brand-pages-for-dummies.ASSIGNMENT #3 – RecycleBank case analysis/recommendations, DUE Wednesday, March 2.


Monday, February 28
GUEST SPEAKER (Google YouTube video manager, former student in this class).  He will cover the current state and future growth of video.  READ:Free Chapts. 5-10.

Wednesday, March 2

TEAMS PRESENT: RecycleBank analysis/recommendations. 


Monday, March 7
GUEST SPEAKER:  Founder and CEO of Newsy.com will present final case.  He will also cover mobile networks and exchanges and cover the Display Advertising Technology Landscape.  READ:Free, Chapts. 11-16, Coda, Free Rules, Freemium Tactics, Fifty Business Models Built on Free.

Wednesday, March 9

GUEST SPEAKER:  Founder and CEO of Newsy.com will continue to present final case.  FINAL ASSIGNMENT: Newsy.com analysis/recommendations DUE Monday and Wednesday, March 21 and 23.



Monday, March 21
TEAMS PRESENT: Newsy.com analysis/recommendations.  Presentations will be judged by Newsy.com CEO, a VC, and the instructor.

Wednesday, March 23

TEAMS PRESENT: Newsy.com analysis/recommendations.  Presentations will be judged by Newsy.com CEO, a VC, and the instructor.



Management and Organizational Analysis (C50.0001)


Required Reading


 “Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places,” David C. Edelman, Harvard Business Review, December 2010.  IN COURSE PACKET.

 “Competing on Analytics,” Thomas H. Davenport, Harvard Business Review, January 2006. IN COURSE PACKET.

“Creating Shared Value,” Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2011.  IN SEPARATE COURSE PACKET.

Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson, Hyperion, 2009.

Web Analytics 2.0, Avinash Kaushik, Wiley Publishing, 2010.

 “What’s Your Google Strategy?” Andrei Hagiu and David B. Yoffie, Harvard Business Review, April 2009.  IN COURSE PACKET.


E-Marketer Newsletter, http://www.emarketer.com/  (subscribe to daily newsletter)

MediaPost: Media Daily News, Online Media Daily, Research Brief, http://www.mediapost.com/publications  (subscribe to daily newsletters)

Silicon Alley Insider,http://www.businessindiser.com/alleyinsider (subscribe to RSS feed)

TechCrunch, http://www.techcrunch.com (subscribe to RSS feed)


The Art of Pricing: How to Find Hidden Profits to Grow Your Business, Rafi Mohammed, Crown Business, 2005.

The Art of War, Sun Tzu, James Clavell, Editor,  Delacourt, New York, 1983.

Auction Theory, Vijay Krishna, Academic Press, 2002,

The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google, Nicholas Carr, W.W. Norton, 2006.

The Chaos Scenario: Amid the Ruins of Mass Media, The Choice for Business is Stark: Listen or Perish, Bob Garfield, Stielstra Publishing, 2009.

Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning, Thomas H. Davenport and Jeanne G. Harris, Harvard Business School Press, 2007.

Co-opetition, Adam M. Brandenburger and Barry J. Nalebuff, Currency Doubleday, 1996.

The Curse of the Mogul: What’s Wrong with the World’s Leading Companies, Jonathan A. Knee, Bruce C. Greenwald, and Ava Seave, Portfolio, 2009.

* Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, Ken Auletta, The Penguin Press, 2009.

The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Clayton M. Christiansen, Harvard Business School Press, 1997.

* The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More,  Chris Anderson, Hyperion, 2006.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Richard Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Yale University Press, 2008.

Predictably Irrational, Daniel Airely, Harper Collins, 2008.

The Strategy Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the Business Environment, Robert S. Kaplan and David Norton, Harvard Business School Press, 2001.
* Highly recommended.

On my website (http://www.charleswarner.us/indexcourses.html) there is a Courses link on the nav bar, go there and under this course’s heading there is: 1) a Syllabus which I will update as needed, 2) a weekly outline that recaps what was covered in each class, 3) assignments, and 4) links to class presentations.


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