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Capital Expertise

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This is a companion case sequence to The Expertise of Capital in Business series on Commoncog.

In the context of business, expertise with Capital comes up in three broad forms:

  1. The ability to raise it. There are three broad ways that companies can raise capital: they can sell equity, raise debt, or reinvest retained earnings. All three demand expertise. As you’ll soon see, there is a richly creative palette that operators may use for each of these tools.

  2. The ability to spend it well. This is known as ‘capital allocation’. There are only five options: you reinvest in your business, you spend it on mergers and acquisition, you pay down debt (if you have it), you buy back shares, or you issue a dividend. How well a CEO makes these allocation decisions with the cash the business generates will determine the long-term enterprise value of the company.

  3. The ability to wield Capital in service of moves in Operations or against competitors in one’s Market. This is where it gets tricky — Capital can be an enabling weapon, and may be used against competitors, or as a method to shore up operations.

The following series of cases will showcase one or more of the above aspects of Capital expertise.


Lee Walker’s Reputation for Dell’s Credit

Michael Dell’s early capital education under Lee Walker, a local titan of business.

Dell’s Go Private and Second IPO

How Michael Dell used financial engineering to gain the upper hand against his competitors.

Lee Walker and the Dell Growth Plateau

How Lee Walker came up with a creative solution to Dell’s biggest growth plateau — and in the process created a significant competitive advantage.

Bootstrapping to Millions in Singapore's Point of Sale Market

A personal story of bootstrapping success, with a little help from a distorted market.

 Members only

Taking Process Control To The Limit at Koch

How Bernard Paulson turned information into a strategic advantage at Koch Industries, producing its first cash cow.

 Members only

Björn Wahlroos’s Capital Allocation Hat Trick with Sampo

Part of Capital Expertise is expertise in capital allocation. This is the story of Bjorn Wahlroos, a Finnish master.

Data, Knowledge and the Capital Cycle: The Start of Koch Industries's Empire

How Koch Industry’s used W. Edward Deming’s concept of ’knowledge’, some capital expertise, and data to build an empire.

 Members only

How Private Equity Killed Payless

What it looks like when an owner has a ton of Capital expertise, but not much on the Operations or Market sides of business expertise.

 Members only

How Private Equity Killed Toys “R” Us

How a series of leveraged buyouts killed a perfectly decent business.

 Members only

Marvel Studios: The Origin Story

The Marvel Cinematic Universe was created thanks to a brilliant piece of financial manoeuvring.

Katharine Graham at the Helm

Katharine Graham’s remarkable journey from widow to master capital allocator.