Bonobos, Inc. Building A Technical Team

By H. Irving Grousbeck, Yin Li
2014 | Case No. E514 | Length 10 pgs.
This case follows CEO Andy Dunn as he struggles to build a technical team that will enable Bonobos, an ecommerce and menswear company, to scale. The case also outlines the path that leads Dunn to the CEO post. Three vignettes compose the main body of the case. The first vignette deals with Dunn’s struggles in getting Bonobos’ engineering team to put forth greater effort. With the company falling behind its technical milestones, Dunn finds that he and vice president of technology Greene disagree on how to proceed. The second vignette presents a difficult situation where Dunn has decided to shut down Bonobos’ Silicon Valley technology office in order to focus on its New York-based core menswear business. However, board members urge Dunn to give the Silicon Valley office a longer runway and they also warn that closing the West Coast office could result in a breakdown on the online platform. The third vignette begins as Dunn has extended an offer to Anil Kapur to join Bonobos as vice president of technology. Dunn learns that lead architect Jonathan Long, who initially disagreed with Dunn on Kapur’s qualifications, has declared to the company’s other engineers that he does not support the hiring of Kapur.

Learning Objective

The learning objectives in this case are to give the students the opportunity to: 1) weigh various ways of persuading an unwilling manager to get his team to work harder 2) role play a difficult conversation with board members where the CEO has decided on a path that is different from the board’s recommendation 3) role play a scenario where a critical employee has delivered a damaging message to other team members.
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