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Business Wars

Business Wars

Author: Wondery

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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.

264 Episodes
Netflix-HBO. Nike-Adidas. Business is war. Sometimes the prize is your wallet. Sometimes your attention. Sometimes just the fun of beating the other guy. From Wondery, the network behind Dirty John and American History Tellers.
Host David Brown interviews Steven Johnson, the host of the new podcast American Innovations.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
COVID-19 has flipped the economy on its head. But the pandemic’s new normal has also created new opportunities. Against all odds, some businesses are actually thriving -- and we’re not just talking about streaming companies. Today we bring you a roundup of some of our favorite recent stories from our weekday news podcast, Business Wars Daily. Listen ad-free on Wondery+ hereSupport us by supporting our sponsors!Ring - Get a special offer on the Ring Welcome Kit when you go to The Welcome Kit includes the Ring Video Doorbell 3 and Chime Pro.
Subscribe today: by Golden Globe winner Taraji P. Henson. Have you ever had a dream? Something you wanted so bad you just couldn’t let it go? For a group of kids in Harlem in the Eighties, their dreams would change pop music forever. Teddy Riley, Timmy Gatling, and Aaron Hall form a group called Guy that would fuse hip-hop and R&B and launch a new sound. By the early Nineties, the New Jack Sound dominated the pop music charts: Bell Biv Devoe, Bobby Brown, Boyz II Men, and many more. But the rise of the New Jack sound would come at a cost, and not everyone would make it to the top. From Wondery and Universal Music Group, Jacked is a story of friendship, gangsters, double-crosses, and big dreams.
Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, will break the mold this year, as the pandemic sends retailers scrambling for new ways to bring in customers while minimizing large crowds. But the changes to American shopping habits predate the pandemic. Host David Brown talks with Business Insider retail correspondent Madeline Stone about what to expect from a COVID Christmas and which changes to our spending habits are likely to stick. Listen ad-free on Wondery+ here
This is Episode 1 of an 8-part series on the brutal business battle between Netflix and Blockbuster, and later HBO.It all started around 1997, with a guy named Marc Randolph and his mathematician friend Reed Hastings. Randolph and Hastings knew they’d have to take on Blockbuster, but what they didn’t anticipate was that their business model would take on network television and eventually change the entire movie industry.This was an 8-year total war that left innumerable casualties in its wake: thousands of hollowed out buildings and economic losses in the billions.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
After Hastings pleaded with Antioco to buy Blockbuster Online, Antioco agreed to present Hasting’s proposal to the board. What he didn’t tell him was that he was pushing the board to reject the offer so Netflix would wither and die. Meanwhile, Netflix was struggling to gain legitimacy in Hollywood. Netflix quickly realized that before it could take on the Hollywood gods, it would have to slay Blockbuster.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Thinking like your enemy is the best way to beat them, and during the war, Blockbuster tried every trick in the books to get inside Netflix. Sometimes they succeeded - sending “housewives” into warehouses as spies, and sometimes things didn’t go as planned. But when Blockbuster did deliver, they delivered big. They threw everything they had at Netflix, but the war raged on.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
You know that expression “content is king”? Well it turns out, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s a hard-working algorithm that burrows into customer habits and viewing patterns. With that, Netflix had a clear upper hand on Blockbuster.That, and the fact that Netflix targeted this new “streaming” technology that in 2007, no one really believed in. Soon they were on top of the world.But it’s dangerous being on top. If you trip, you have a long way to fall.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
We take a step back to explore how a little company called Home Box Office went from serving B-movies to 325 homes in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania to become the juggernaut that we know as HBO. In the process, HBO, become the standard by which all other cable companies would have to measure themselves - after all, it's not TV. It's HBO.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Hollywood execs thought Netflix was crazy to give up advertising and spin off opportunities by letting viewers flop on a couch and watch a whole season of a show all at once. But Netflix knew it was on to something. All of their studies and focus groups revealed something new: viewers who binged content formed an emotional attachment to Netflix. Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Netflix goes from being a streaming company to a movement in which consumers all over the world decide what show to watch -- and when and how they watch them. The future that Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph envisioned two decades earlier has arrived. The unfettered reign of cable television has ended. The war for streaming viewers will become richer. And more cutthroat.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Rich Greenfield is a tech and media analyst with BTIG who’s been covering this battle in some capacity for decades. We had the chance to talk to him in depth on today’s episode.Follow Rich on Twitter @RichBTIGSupport us by supporting our sponsors!
In 2015, Kanye West turned his back on Nike, an all out battle in the ongoing war for sneaker supremacy. Nike and Adidas are two multinational companies worth billions in an industry estimated to be valued at $220 Billion by 2020 (which is double the GDP of Ukraine) but that begs the question - Why are companies sinking so much money into mesh and rubber for your feet?In this series of Business Wars, we'll find out. This is Episode 1 of a 7-part series on the brutal business battle between Nike and Adidas.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Rudi and Adi Dassler started the “Dassler Business” in the 1920s in their parent’s garage, recycling materials from WWI military gear and uniforms. They got a pair of their track spikes on an athlete named Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics and the company took off… until WWII.The war may have been over for Germany, but the rivalry between Adi and Rudi was just heating up.Rudi left to start his own company, Puma, and Adi created Adidas.50 years later, with a waffle iron and inventory from Onitsuka Tiger, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman start tinkering with some shoes in Bowerman’s kitchen. The waffle iron didn’t last long, but the shoes did.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
As long as there have been professional sports, there have been professional athletes, willing to accept money to wear certain brands, but the biggest endorsement deals were only made possible by a mid-20th century invention: the television. Fans realized they could tune in to see their favorite athletes almost any day of the week. Brands realized they just got hundreds of walking billboards showing the capabilities of their athletic gear in action… and it’s a race to see who can reach the world’s best athletes first.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Every new Nike employee gets a list of principles that serves as the company’s philosophy. One: Our business is change. Two: We’re on offense, all the time.With those principles Nike sprinted from $29 million in revenue in 1973 to more than $850 million by 1983. But the biggest boost for Nike was an up and coming athlete. Like Jesse Owens fifty years before, a young Michael Jordan would carry a fledgling shoe brand to new heights.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Nike, the late starter struck gold with its “Just Do It” campaign. Launched in 1988, the shoe giant finally had a tagline as good as its shoes. Meanwhile, Adidas, the brand that started and found success long before Nike was even a dream, finds itself as the underdog. The American offices feel like a startup, and is passed between the hands of former Nike execs and European businessmen. What does it take to go from a million-dollar company to a billion-dollar company? Adidas has to find out, and fast. Support us by supporting our sponsors!
The rivalry between Nike and Adidas has been intense for decades, but always respectful. But with intensity comes… defectors. Just three at the beginning, who set out to create a “Disneyland for designers.” And it worked. For the first time in a long time, the Swoosh was outperformed by three little white stripes.But it’s not all bad. The constant competition drove both companies to produce better shoes, better apparel, and have made each other better businesses. As the sneaker wars enter a new era, who will come out on top? Time will tell, but if Phil Knight knows anything at all, it’ll be the company who isn’t afraid to fail.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Today we talked to Liz Dolan, former Nike CMO, and David Meltzer, sports marketing guru and agent about this vicious war. If you loved them here, you’ll love their podcasts even more.Liz co-hosts Safe For Work, a show that answers your burning business questions and provides the advice you need to keep your office drama-free, and Satellite Sisters, where she got to sit down with Phil Knight and talk about Nike with the man himself. You can listen to that interview here.You can hear David on his show, The Playbook, talking to Tony Hawk, Gary Vaynerchuk, Reggie Bush, and more of sports biggest names.Subscribe to Safe For Work, Satellite Sisters, and The Playbook in Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to Business Wars.Support us by supporting our sponsors!
Comments (361)

Andy Heka

Dewalt vs Milwaukee id love to hear

Nov 26th

Deltyn Miller

this is the most idiotic conversation I've listened to in a while. all I hear is another academic attempting to divide by putting a partisan spin on consumerism. your preferred brand of jean is not and never had been a flag of virtue. It's about which brands have the better cut and aren't being sold at supermarkets...

Nov 23rd

Nathan Miller

Brings the stories to life in a really entertaining way.

Oct 29th


Very interesting podcast. but the female roles voiced by men makes it sound cheaply produced. Is it really that hard to find a woman friend to do the female voices?

Oct 28th
Reply (1)

Andrew Ben Richard

Kalanick might look like a monster but is amazing how we was able to create such an amazing company

Oct 20th

Andrew Ben Richard

I love strategic business founders

Oct 20th


Great episode, guys! Insightful.

Oct 11th

Lamont Nelson

the auctioneer was great!

Oct 10th


That's the kind of shit I signed up for. I haven't listened to it yet but God I know it will be interesting to listen to!

Oct 7th

Ben Pak

Hi, can you create the Business war between Pall,Parker Haydac...3 main manufacturer at Industrial FILTRATION market Thanks

Sep 6th

Mahdi Mortazavi

best business podcast

Sep 1st

Sofa King

I wish they talked about Uber buying careem.

Aug 8th

Walter Madondo

I have to say this is my best podcast so far, love the narration. You make facts fun and easy to grasp. It's like I'm watching a movie the only difference is that it's in my head

Jul 13th

Mau Mau


Jun 29th

Craig Prestininzi

Regular people don't make a morality judgment about taking a ride share vs. public transportation. Nothing the guest shared can be trusted after that comment.

Jun 22nd

aditya suresh

Listen this for BILL GATES moment of brilliance in sensing a business opportunity to make it the biggest company in the world

Jun 13th

Sachin Garg

Another great series.

Jun 11th

Douglas Scott

2l 2 l l l l l2 l l l l ll l l l l ll l l l l l2l l ll l l l l l l l 2 l l l l l 3 ll l l l l l l llll2l l 2 l l l l ll lll l l l ll l l

Jun 3rd
Reply (1)


Hi who are your sources for the “don’t be too proud to copy” line?

Jun 2nd

Ahmad Hamad

Dear @businesswars , please compare @Uber with @Careem

Jun 1st
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