I will never forget the first time we had to deal with Blackberry, when they produced their phone for the first time.
“Our business model is quite simple”, the sales executive said, to us:
“We charge you, $20/customer, per month. And you can charge on top, whatever you want.”
My Chief Marketing Officer, who was dealing with them, was livid:
“That is ridiculous! We have invested billions of dollars to build the network, and to get customers. Now you waltz in here, and tell us, that you will get the lions share of the revenue on each customer? How can anyone accept such an arrangement?”
The Blackberry guy, smiled, and said quietly, “its a take it or leave it.”
The matter, was escalated up to me, as Chairman. I listened quietly to our senior executives, express their frustrations,and indignation:
“That means, we will only get about $5, whilst they take $20; is that fair?!”
“Why, why can’t they just sell us phones, like everyone else. Why do they want a revenue share, as though they are the operator?!”
“Do it, and do it now.” I said quietly.
Then I explained:
“They have the upper hand. They know that they have an iconic product, which our top customers will want. If we do not sign, they can do serious damage to our business by handing this opportunity to a competitor. This game is no longer about building networks, its the guys who can use our networks, for their own businesses, that will be king from now on. We better learn to do the same, or at least work with them.”
The position of Blackberry, would remain unchallenged until someone came along with a better product, and that was Apple. They were even more aggressive, about what they wanted. There was no debate, we all understood, by then.
Today, Apple is worth more than $600bn, making it the most valuable company in history; yes more valuable than any oil company, or mining conglomerate or cell phone company.
Being “business minded”, requires you to understand, what I call “changing dispensations”, when they occur. If you do not understand why Alibaba, an “online flea market”, is worth more than any cell phone company, or any mining company, you will not be able to play the business game.
Now, think about Uber, and learn, to be business minded.