Thanks for this insightful post, Chrislisl! I had never heard of Paddle8 before, and I think there is potential opportunity in bringing “grand old dames” auction house offerings to a younger generation through an innovative digital platform.
Based on your description, Paddle8’s online operating platform implicates only a single auction type: a virtual, “highest-offer-wins” bidding process. This made me wonder: is there future growth opportunity for Paddle8 in catering to a more diverse set of auction categories? I’m reminded of the book “DEALMAKING: The New Strategy of Negotiauctions” by Guhan Subramanian, a professor at Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. Ultimately, he argues that “complex deal-making today uses elements of [both negotiation and auction] methods.”  And that savvy bidders can get the upper-hand during “negotiauctions” by making well-placed “set-up” (“establishing the entry process”), “rearranging” (changing the “assets, the parties, and/or creat[ing] added-value in the deal”), and/or “shut-down” (cutting-off “same side of the table competition”) moves. [Ibid.]
Ultimately, I wonder whether Paddle8 could expand its operating system to allow online bidders to compete on a basis beyond price alone. If their business model revolves around our “younger generation,” there might be great opportunity in enabling this target segment to leverage different strategic moves to buy and sell assets in “our increasingly competitive global marketplace.”  Many potential young bidders might be discouraged from using the service if they feel that they don’t have the economic means to compete with wealthier bidders. And igniting competition through simulated negotiations–whose outcomes do not exclusively depend on the nominal bid amount—might be an avenue for capturing those potential consumers!
 “DEALMAKING: The New Strategy of Negotiauctions,” by Guhan Subramanian. Pp. 196-97.
I loved your post, Megan!
I especially enjoyed reading your “Proactively seeking new magic” section, which detailed Disney’s multi-faceted innovation strategy. I’d add that much of Disney’s innovative thinking is evidenced and documented by its extensive patenting activity. Disney’s recent issued patenting activity is strikingly broad in scope, ranging from humanoid robotics to kinetic flame devices (to modernize the aesthetic of theme park attractions and amusement rides) to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) (or drones). 
That said, in recent months, Disney executives have been troubled by inconsistent performance in select divisions (e.g., the TV division). Although Disney continues to innovate in subscription-based offerings (as “evidenced by the new Disney Life,” per your post), the firm’s subsidiary ESPN has lost 7 million viewers over about two years due to heightened competition from rivals like Netflix.  It makes me wonder whether Disney—a massively diversified media and entertainment conglomerate with business divisions in “amusement parks, full-length movies, television production and video gaming”—is ever at risk of seeking too much magic. 
Disney may have won the hearts of millions over the years by “creat[ing] the never-before-seen.”  I question whether they’re too diversified to successfully innovate across every business division and whether they should rollout a more targeted innovation strategy.
Fascinating, gorem! Thanks for the insightful breakdown of Curriculum Associates’ business and operating models.
I had read recently that NYSED (New York State Education Department) approved CA’s i-Ready Diagnostic as a program that school districts can use as part of teachers’ annual performance reviews:
Given you highlighted i-Ready—a single online product that hopefully will improve student outcomes in NY and other states—as a cornerstone of CA’s business model, a few thoughts come to mind:
1) Will CA have to rely on government grants (or approvals like those mentioned in the article above) to sustain its growth? If so, is CA able to accurately and reliably predict which new product lines will be incorporated into formal statewide curricula or approved by respective State Education Departments?
2) You mention that “freedom from short-term pressures has been vital to the company’s success.” Is that freedom potentially threatened by the need for CA’s technology to remain annually compliant with State education regulation? Relatedly, do you foresee any new “short-term pressures” emerging in our increasingly digital US education landscape?