Movile (A): Going Global - Is Silicon Valley the Next Stop?

By Peter Ziebelman, George Foster, Jessica Morgan
2015 | Case No. E539A | Length 13 pgs.

The (A) case described the early days of Movile, a Brazilian mobile phone company, and debated the decision to open an office in Silicon Valley. The case went into the history of the firm and the mobile phone industry in Brazil. It discussed how the firm grew throughout Latin America through acquisitions and failed in earlier attempts to expand organically. The (A) case also outlined the unique culture of the firm, which blended a highly innovative culture with Movile’s focus on achieving targets and results. The question of whether to expand into Silicon Valley raised the issue of the importance of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the growth trajectory of a firm. This issue was particularly significant at this point in Movile’s life cycle when it needed to evolve from being a feature phone business to diversifying to include new smartphone technologies in their product offerings.

The (B) case explained how Movile expanded their business, moving into the smartphone market from their core business of feature phones in Latin America. The case described the two parts of Movile’s strategy. The first was Movile’s development and launch of a smartphone app, PlayKids, which, as of the end of 2014, was the number-one children’s app in the world (by sales in the Apple app store). The second aspect of this strategy involved investing in mobile-enabled offline start-ups in Brazil.

The (A) case may be taught as a stand-alone case. The (B) case requires the (A) case to be read beforehand.

Learning Objective

The learning objective of the (A) case was for students to consider the challenges of entrepreneurial ecosystems outside of the United States and the importance of the United States for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. The case was also designed to have students explore the challenges of expanding internationally and the need for localization when a company moves to new markets. The learning objective of the (B) case was for students to examine how a non-U.S. start-up has successfully expanded internationally and pivoted their business model in the face of a declining market.

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