Rob Toews

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On December 14, 2015, Rob Toews commented on Tencent: Growth of a “King Penguin” :

Henry, I really enjoyed reading this post – thanks so much for sharing!

What I find particularly fascinating about Tencent is the competitive context in which it operates. Many consider Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent to be the three tech “giants” in China (with Baidu often compared to Google and Alibaba comparable to Amazon). As you note in your post, as the three have expanded, they frequently come into competitive conflict with one another as they each seek to stake out as much market share as they can in various tech-related fields (e.g., e-commerce, online payments, messaging, etc). Do you believe that, given its business model, operating model, and currently existing competencies, Tencent is well-positioned competitively relative to these other two tech titans? If so, what do you think gives it a leg up against its equally deep-pocketed competitors, who are going after many of the same markets and products that Tencent is?

On December 14, 2015, Rob Toews commented on Tesla: Redefining a Trillion Dollar Industry :

Great question, Mepossi/Carrie – really glad you asked it. The approach that you describe–producing an affordable, mass-market electric vehicle–is exactly what Elon Musk’s and Tesla’s long-term vision is. Most observers believe that Tesla, while a fascinating company and story now, will only begin to have a truly transformational impact on the world when they make a car that is commercially available to the masses. Which is to say, what the company has accomplished to this point is just the beginning.

It won’t let me paste this image in, so check this link out for a very simplistic but helpful graphical representation of Tesla’s long-term business plan, addressing this question: http://28oa9i1t08037ue3m1l0i861.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/pyramid2.png

On December 14, 2015, Rob Toews commented on Tesla: Redefining a Trillion Dollar Industry :

Great question, Mepossi/Carrie – really glad you asked it. The approach that you describe–producing an affordable, mass-market electric vehicle–is exactly what Elon Musk’s and Tesla’s long-term vision is. Most observers believe that Tesla, while a fascinating company and story now, will only begin to have a truly transformational impact on the world when they make a car that is commercially available to the masses. Which is to say, what the company has accomplished to this point is just the beginning.

It won’t let me paste this image in, so check this link out for a very simplistic but helpful graphical representation of Tesla’s long-term business plan, addressing this question: http://28oa9i1t08037ue3m1l0i861.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/pyramid2.png

On December 14, 2015, Rob Toews commented on Post-Conflict Turnaround: The Sale of a Country on a Thousand Hills. :

Sheila, I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing. I had the opportunity to visit Rwanda last year and it is truly a remarkable (and beautiful) place. One of the most impressive success stories in Africa.

I have a couple questions about Rwanda’s model that I would be curious to hear your thoughts on. First, as you mention, the approach to economic growth that the country has adopted is export-driven, relying on attracting a lot of FDI. Longer-term, to ensure that the entire country shares in the prosperity, it may be important for them to shift to a growth model based more on domestic consumption, involving a robust middle class that has significant disposable income (a transition that, for instance, we are seeing China go through currently). Do you think that this is a transition that the country and the RDB are well-positioned to make, and will the same approaches that they have used to this point continue to be effective? Next, many point to the political leadership of President Paul Kagame as a key driver of the astounding economic success that the country has experienced over the past years. Some, however, argue that the order and stability that makes foreign investors willing to invest in Rwanda is made possible only through a certain level of political repression and deprivation of personal liberties, with Kagame running the country as a de facto one-party state and, according to some critics, engaging in human rights violations. Do you see these criticisms as valid and/or as concerns for the country longer-term?

On December 14, 2015, Rob Toews commented on Dangote Cement: an African Manufacturing Success Story :

Great writeup! Dangote is an incredible success story, and it was amazing to be able to hear him speak here on campus earlier this year.

The success that the company has had to this point is beyond question and it is, as you point out, largely due to the tight alignment between the company’s business model and its operations. For me, the most interesting questions involve looking forward to the company’s future. They have had tremendous success in cement. To spur further growth, might they aim to branch out into further commodities and business lines? Is the approach that worked so well for them in cement–including many of the elements that you highlight here–translatable to other market opportunities? Perhaps more interestingly, might they try to expand operations beyond Africa at some point? As you point out, the company’s (and the founder’s) focus to this point has been on capitalizing on and aiding in the development of the African continent. The opportunities in Africa will just continue to grow. But one indicator of the continent’s continuing economic development and global competitiveness should be, at some point, the fact that local African companies are able to thrive not just within Africa but in developed markets as well, against mature competitors there.