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Business Wars

Netflix vs. HBO. Nike vs. Adidas. Business is war. Sometimes the prize is your wallet or your attention. Sometimes, it’s just the fun of beating the other guy. The outcome of these battles shapes what we buy and how we live. Business Wars gives you the unauthorized, real story of what drives these companies and their leaders, inventors, investors and executives to new heights -- or to ruin. Hosted by David Brown, former anchor of Marketplace. From Wondery, the network behind Dirty John and American History Tellers.New episodes come out Wednesdays for free. Binge new full seasons early and ad-free, plus get exclusive past seasons, with Wondery+ or on Amazon Music with a Prime membership or Amazon Music Unlimited subscription.

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

Warning: This podcast is a series podcast

This means episodes are recommended to be heard in order from the very start. Here's the 10 best episodes of the series anyway though!

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Late Night Wars | Late Night Explodes | 3

Johnny Carson – the man who defined the Tonight show – is nearing retirement. But NBC has yet to settle on an heir. And that sets the stage for one of the most painful moments for the late night rivals battling for the throne. It will prove enormously embarrassing for Carson, Leno and Letterman. And they will vent their sentiments on stage. Meanwhile, Arensio Hall, a young, black comedian, is blowing past all of them, and posing the first serious challenge to Carson.Pre-order our new book The Art of Business Wars now before it is released on April 13.Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/businesswars.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

26mins

8 Mar 2021

Rank #1

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eBay vs PayPal - Outta the Gate | 6

PayPal is running out of time. The online payment service is hauling in new users, but its bottom line is bleeding red. Without a buyer to pump it full of cash soon, the company could go under. Should it take the safe route and sell out to its longtime nemesis eBay? Or should it risk the open market with an initial public offering? Why not both?You support this show by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

23mins

9 Aug 2018

Rank #2

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The First Computer War - The Electronic Brain | 1

With so much information at our fingertips, it’s hard to remember that we haven’t always walked around with supercomputers in our pockets. In fact, in 1952, CBS thought that Americans would find it SO hard to imagine that a machine could even predict election results accurately that they built a pretend computer and resorted to, well, fake news, to make the public believe. This is Univac vs. IBM, and this is the First Computer War.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

22mins

19 Apr 2018

Rank #3

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Netflix vs Blockbuster - Sudden Death | 1

This is Episode 1 of an 8-part series on the brutal business battle between Netflix and Blockbuster, and later HBO.It all started around 1997, with a guy named Marc Randolph and his mathematician friend Reed Hastings. Randolph and Hastings knew they’d have to take on Blockbuster, but what they didn’t anticipate was that their business model would take on network television and eventually change the entire movie industry.This was an 8-year total war that left innumerable casualties in its wake: thousands of hollowed out buildings and economic losses in the billions.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

27mins

6 Feb 2018

Rank #4

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Southwest vs American - Aviation Cyber Wars | 3

The computer age is on the horizon, and American Airlines has a secret weapon: SABRE. Sure, the airline is top of the heap under the current pen-and-paper reservation system — the one where travel agents use a massive phonebook to look up flights, then call individual airlines to book a ticket. But they’re tired of playing phone tag. The American Society of Travel Agents has plans to roll out a new electronic system, one that could force American to lose its unofficial preferred status. The company has to get its system to market first — and its leaders have to convince the travel agencies to get onboard.But there’s a much bigger threat looming on the horizon, one that could give a big boost to upstart rivals like Southwest Airlines. Deregulation is coming, and when it does it will change everything.Support this show by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

19mins

18 Sep 2018

Rank #5

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FedEx vs UPS | On the Line | 5

With UPS expanding aggressively into Europe and other continents, FedEx decides to bet big on China. But it’s a risky strategy that initially looks like it’s going to fall short.  Meanwhile, UPS tries to maintain its competitive advantage by pushing for more productivity from its workers. But the drivers have had enough and UPS soon has a major labor relations problem on its hands. UPS’s troubles give FedEx an opening to peel away some of its business.And at the dawn of the dot com era, both companies make a play for a new type of customer. Listen ad-free on Wondery+ hereSupport us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

22mins

31 Aug 2020

Rank #6

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Southwest vs American - The Cult of Herb | 5

Everyone loves Herb Kelleher—even FAA regulators. The onetime corporate counsel-turned-CEO is coming into his own at the helm of Southwest. But his latest challenge is coming up with a way to skirt the FAA’s pesky “slot” system, designed to limit air traffic by rationing takeoffs and landings. Kelleher has a business to run. So he embarks on a crazy plan to snag a few extra slots for Southwest. It may not work, but one thing’s certain: it will be a whole lot of fun.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

23mins

25 Sep 2018

Rank #7

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Pizza Hut vs Domino's | Rolling out | 1

It’s 1958 and on the East and West Coasts, all the cool cats are chowing down on pizza.Yet in the heartland, far away from the buzz of New York and LA, pizza is still rarely seen, let alone eaten. But that’s all about to change, thanks to a new pizzeria opened by two brothers in a hut in Kansas.And they’re not the only siblings with pie in the sky dreams. In Michigan, the Monaghan brothers are hoping to bring pizza to the nation’s front doors.Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App. https://wondery.app.link/businesswarsSupport us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

23mins

9 Sep 2020

Rank #8

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Boeing vs Airbus - Get Your Wings | 1

It’s the 1950s, the dawn of the jet age. And leading the world into this era of faster, less shaky flights is the British-made De Havilland Comet.But when disaster strikes, a hungry American military plane maker called Boeing spots a golden opportunity to break into the civil aviation big leagues.And as Boeing ascends, America’s grip on the aircraft market tightens, crushing the European competition.But with their market share plummeting, Europe’s plane makers decide they must unite or die.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

23mins

6 Jan 2020

Rank #9

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Amazon vs Walmart - The Big Bang Theory of E-Commerce | 1

Ninety-six percent of Americans now shop online, snapping up everything from rare coins to industrial-sized barrels of hand sanitizer. Almost half of those purchases take place on one website: Amazon. But before sales were a click away, Walmart was the top dog, decimating main streets across America with its big-box efficiency and ruthlessly low prices. It’s 1994, and a slim 30-year-old with thinning hair dreams of leaving his high-paying finance job to sell books on the internet — a move he’s convinced is his ticket to one day dominating the world of e-commerce. Jeff Bezos just has to break the news to his parents. Luckily, he’s already found the perfect name for his new venture. Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

23mins

20 Apr 2020

Rank #10

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Hearst vs Pulitzer - The Headless Torso, Part 1 | 1

This is the beginning of a mystery, a great business rivalry, and a look into American history. To tell the story of Hearst vs Pulitzer, we called our friend Lindsay Graham over at American History Tellers for help.The Headless Torso mystery is about a jilted husband, a German midwife, a muscleman and more colorful characters. The city’s been mesmerized for months, and in Gilded Age New York, most people just couldn’t resist pressing their pennies into a newsboy’s ink-stained hand to find out the latest.You can listen to more episodes of American History Tellers wherever you listen to Business Wars.Support this show by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

24mins

7 Jun 2018

Rank #11

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Encore: Hasbro vs Mattel | The Shotgun Wedding | 5

A few months ago, Mattel’s revenues were just fifty million dollars behind Hasbro’s. But now that Hasbro’s swallowed Tonka—the classic maker of Nerf, Play-Doh, and Monopoly—Mattel is half a billion dollars behind, and CEO John Amerman isn’t happy about it.Ever since Hasbro turned British fashion doll Sindy into a Barbie lookalike, the two toymakers have been at war. Now Amerman is looking to make a couple strategic acquisitions: one to put Mattel back in pole position, and the other, to spite Hasbro.This episode originally aired on April 3, 2019.Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/businesswars.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

23mins

4 Jan 2021

Rank #12

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Sponsored: When Small Businesses Think Big - Chobani & Wrigley (Dell Podference) | 2

This episode is brought to you by Wondery in partnership with Dell Technologies. In honor of small businesses, we’re featuring inspiring stories of successful companies that started out small.In upstate New York, a Kurdish immigrant wants to make his biggest dream come true: to produce the tart, custard-thick Greek yogurt of his childhood for American palates. In 2005, he buys an abandoned Kraft factory for cheap. With an ingenious financing deal, standout packaging and clever marketing, he launches Chobani — the yogurt sensation that eventually forces goliaths Yoplait and Dannon to move over. While Chobani launched a quiet incursion, William Wrigley Jr. set out to upend the gum industry in 1893 with an improved spearmint flavor.  After one misstep after another, he finally gets traction. Then the gum monopoly approaches him: join or be crushed. Thanks to a savvy advertising campaign, he blows past them to become the nation’s biggest gum purveyor.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

29mins

7 May 2020

Rank #13

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Estée Lauder vs L'Oréal | Telephone, Telegraph, Tell-A-Woman | 1

It’s 1946, and after years of building a cult following thanks to free samples and loyal customers, Estée Lauder finally has an opportunity to join the big leagues. She can now sell her high-quality makeup products in department stores in New York City. Unphased by competitors with deeper pockets and wider distribution, she possesses a passion for making women feel beautiful that sets her apart.  Meanwhile, in Paris, chemist Eugène Schueller’s hair company L'Oréal is thriving thanks to his top-notch formula for synthetic hair dye. But as World War II comes to an end, rumors that he supported the Nazis threaten the empire he has built. Pre-order our new book The Art of Business Wars now before it is released on April 13.Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/businesswars.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

27mins

3 Feb 2021

Rank #14

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TikTok vs Instagram | Dance, Dance, Revolution | 3

It's August 2016 and Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are about to pull off the tech equivalent of a heist — and they just might get away with it. But despite its success, Instagram faces trouble at home when Mark Zuckerberg starts rocking the boat.In China, TikTok founder Zhang Yiming has his eyes on global expansion. He's willing to spend big to acquire his competition — and that poses a huge threat to Instagram's supremacy. Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App https://wondery.app.link/businesswars.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

24mins

7 Dec 2020

Rank #15

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WWF vs WCW - Bulking Up | 2

It’s the dawn of the 1990s and Vince McMahon’s WWF is the king of wrestling. But trouble’s brewing: a steroids scandal is about to deal a body blow to the WWF and its family-friendly reputation.The scandal will leave WWF stuck in damage control mode as it fights to stem the losses from falling TV ratings, ticket sales, and pay-per-view buys.Meanwhile, Ted Turner’s trying to get World Championship Wrestling fighting fit with help from a former Pizza Hut regional manager, a self-proclaimed Cowboy, and a back-up announcer who wants to bring wrestling to Disney World.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

26mins

11 Sep 2019

Rank #16

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Red Bull vs Monster - Get Your Wings | 1

It’s the early 1980s, and in Bangkok, Thailand, a jet-lagged toothpaste marketing exec named Dietrich Mateschitz has just tasted Krating Daeng, an energy tonic popular with rickshaw drivers. The flavor is repellant—it’s sickly sweet—but to Mateschitz’s surprise, it completely cures his jetlag. Suddenly, he sees a business opportunity. Energy drinks like these are huge in East Asia, but virtually unheard of in Europe. The biggest challenge will be figuring out how to market it—starting with a new name. He knows “Krating Daeng” won’t sell, so he opts for the nearest English equivalent: Red Bull.Support this show by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

23mins

13 Nov 2018

Rank #17

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Facebook vs Snapchat - TikTok, The New Social Media Sensation | 7

The social media world moves fast, and the next big thing is already upon us. It’s called TikTok. A video-based app where users create short clips to share with the world, TikTok is growing at a rapid rate. The app has already been downloaded a billion times and boasts 500 million active users around the globe. We conclude our series on Facebook vs Snapchat with a look at the next big player in the social media game.Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

28mins

23 Oct 2019

Rank #18

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Macy’s vs Gimbels - Wartime Wagers | 5

In the late 1930s Gimbels makes a risky bet by stockpiling goods likely to be scarce in wartime. They also snap up their rival’s star copywriter, who does the best work of her career at their shop. Their savvy planning and advertising strength position them well for the post-war period, when Americans open their wallets wide. But the lifting of Depression era regulations governing retail leads to a series of price wars between all the department stores. None is as extreme as the one between Macy’s and Gimbels, which ends in mayhem, and sometimes, violence. The price wars force Macy’s to choose between honoring a sacred, century-old discount policy, or risk ending the year in the red for the first time in company history. Support us by supporting our sponsors!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

22mins

16 Dec 2019

Rank #19

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Red Bull vs Monster - Buzzkill | 3

As the extreme marketing battle between Red Bull and Monster reaches unprecedented heights (128,000 feet above sea level, to be precise), a new challenger steps onto the scene. 5-hour Energy, the tiny titan in the two ounce can, quickly plows through the energy drink market, generating hundreds of millions of dollars each year and leaving a trail of failed imitators in its wake.But for the moment, Red Bull and Monster have bigger issues on their hands. A string of unexpected deaths and hospitalizations, a high-profile lawsuit, and whispers of a government ban threaten to topple their energy empire.Support this show by supporting our sponsors!Learn more about the well-connected 2019 Lincoln MKC at Lincoln.com/WonderySee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

23mins

20 Nov 2018

Rank #20