The Gee Whiz Media Case
Exalt yourself and you will need others’ notice. Humble yourself and
you will notice others’ needs.
Part I: Planning
Like most start-up companies, Gee Whiz Media (GWM) was the product of the visionary zeal of
its founder Dan Durand. Dan had a longstanding reputation in the local technology community
of being a gifted visionary who put a premium on honesty. In the industry, he was known for his
integrity in his relationships with employees, customers, and suppliers. This reputation had come
from several successful start-ups he had taken public in the 1980s. He found that this was a
particularly good way to do business because those with whom he dealt generally were willing to
accept his word at face value. This reputation was to serve him well in his next venture.
In the late 1980s, an emerging technology called multimedia caught Dan’s imagination. CD-
ROMs were one of the few media with the capacity to store such diverse types of information as
sound, video, and text. As PCs became commonplace, Dan believed that CD-ROMs would
revolutionize in-home entertainment by allowing users to interact easily with the new media.
Dan convinced the owner of a local retail computer store to provide space for him to demonstrate
the wonders of multimedia. He reasoned that if consumers saw that computers didn’t need to be
boring, they might buy a complete system including a CD-ROM drive, speakers, and graphics
programs. Dan would get a percentage of the sale. Thus, GWM was born.
Building the Business Plan
Dan and his staff of nine met in his home to define their place in the evolving multimedia
industry. Together, they attempted to summarize the competitive dynamics underlying the
multimedia industry. Early pioneers in the industry viewed it as electronic publishing, the
conversion of text, video, and music to an electronic medium. Major segments included
entertainment (e.g., music videos), games, sports, education, hobbies, “how-to” or training
manuals, and career development applications. Game applications proved to be a hit and