Robert L. Johnson accomplished what many thought couldn't be done: he founded a company that leveraged managerial talent, largely African American, and grew into one of the leading media companies in the world. This case allows for many teaching points from multiple functional perspectives. Students can learn about decisions necessary for a firm's start-up and can compare the start-up of Black Entertainment Television (BET) to businesses in other industries and markets. The case offers an opportunity to examine the strategic benefits of the BET brand to various consumer groups and to assess the growth and viability of each group and product category. Through BET, students can learn about the benefits and liabilities of various legal structures and the challenges of entering the public market. The financial and strategic decision making, particularly as related to offering shares of the company to the public and the market's valuation of the firm at various stages, can enrich students' understanding of entering and exiting capital markets. A multimedia version (UVA-S-0108M), with an interactive timeline and extensive video clips for student preparation and faculty use, is available that makes the case come alive. This case is one of two Darden case studies on BET. A Leadership and Organizational Behavior paper case (UVA-OB-0814) and its video supplement focus explicitly on BET's complex human-resource issues. The use of both case studies on the same day allows for an integrated learning experience. A teaching note is available to registered faculty.
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