Case spotlight: Exit Strategy

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This case was featured in the November 2022 issue of Connect.

Who - the protagonist

Linda Hall, CEO of MinuteClinic.

What?

A seasoned exec, Linda was brought in as CEO to grow, raise capital for, and rebrand QuickMedx (to MinuteClinic). QuickMedx provided retail health clinic services across America.

Linda and her team grew revenue from $6m to $20m, increased the company’s clinics from eight in one state to 100 in ten states, and partnered with retail giants Target and CVS.

MinuteClinic was transformed and drew industry admiration, media attention and investor capital with its growth.

Cell from the Exit Strategy cartoon case

Why?

Linda’s team did extraordinary work strategically growing the business to the point where it could be acquired by CVS. However, as she looks back on a great growth trajectory, she also wishes she had done several things differently to manage her relationships with some board members and investors and her own stake in the business.

In the spring of 2005, Linda went from being CEO to COO after a new CEO replaced her. Later that year, she was asked to offer her resignation.

As her departure agreement was negotiated by her naïve (to the ways of venture capital) lawyer, Linda later realised her equity provisions weren’t ‘market’. Linda regretted her decision not to appoint a lawyer who knew how to represent her interests better, and not seeking advice from former entrepreneur CEOs.

Where?

MinuteClinic has a major presence across America, having continued to grow under CVS’ ownership.

When?

Linda was appointed as CEO in 2002.

After raising $5.2m and forming a three-person board in the same year, two further people were added in 2003, followed by another round of investment that raised $15m in 2004.

But a difficult 2005 saw Linda demoted, then resigning, and in 2006 her departure was confirmed.

Key quote

“We’re bringing in someone with multi-location retail experience as CEO. You’ll become COO.”
Linda’s superior breaking the bad news to her.

What next?

As the acquisition of MinuteClinic by CVS was taking place in 2006, after her departure from the company, but while she still held equity, Linda received some welcome news.

Although her counsel had failed to create important equity vesting provisions, the board agreed retroactively to apply the provisions such that she owned a greater percentage of the company than she originally thought. Linda’s equity ownership was modified so that she would receive proceeds from the CVS acquisition as if she already had a ‘market-level’ or entrepreneur-savvy agreement. Upon hearing this, Linda was (very) pleased but wondered whether she could have done things differently during her time at MinuteClinic.

Could Linda have better managed her relationships with some board members and investors, so as to remain CEO longer? Could she have asked for more mentorship and coaching? And, should she have better managed her own stake in the business? There was plenty of reflecting to be done.

AUTHOR PERSPECTIVE 

Changing the narrative

Becca said: “I wanted to write a case about the amazing story of Linda Hall and her team growing MinuteClinic in its early years. She is a brilliant thinker, leader, and doer. 

“As I was interviewing her for the growth story, the tale of her departure from the company naturally arose. I find that her ‘exit story’ is a common one - an everyman’s or everywoman’s tale as far as entrepreneurship is concerned. Entrepreneurs could benefit lots from learning through her storytelling in terms of how to think about and manage their own personal exit from a company they create and grow.”

Cell from the Exit Strategy cartoon case

In memory of Debapratim

Becca continued: “I have co-founded and/or led numerous organisations, and I know, as an entrepreneur myself, I don’t especially enjoy talking about my departure from the companies. The start-up is more exciting than the exit. Linda shared her story for this case as an act of generosity, but for her, covering her exit wasn’t as much fun as covering the entrepreneurial growth she led (which will be our next comic book case study). 

“Additionally, our awesome illustrator, Sid Ghosh, had to deal with the fact that my case study creation process differs from the process he used with Debrapratim Purkayastha for many years. He and I dedicated this comic book to the memory of Debapratim, a beloved professor at ICFAI Business School Hyderabad. Debapratim created terrific comic book case studies, beloved by The Case Centre’s customers, and his and Sid’s works inspired many educators, including me. Debapratim passed away from COVID-19 in 2021. Knowing I couldn’t live up to Sid’s late collaborator’s extraordinary capabilities didn’t crush me though. I hope Sid was able to find humour in my good-natured but imperfect attempts.”

Quick and easy

She added: “The undergraduate professors who have used our comic book case studies love them because they are short and visual, they’re very easy to access (just press a button and download), and they are self-contained. They take five minutes to read and the end notes take another five minutes. So, reading the case, analysing it, and reflecting on it, can all be done within one class session if you want. The teaching note offers basic ideas for kick-off questions, and then moves into synthesis, analysis, reflection, and learning. Professors need only prepare for about 40 minutes in order to use the case for the first time, and they need less preparation with each successive time.

“Also, the subjects of the comic book case studies video visit (live, real time) into my class. For instance, in this entrepreneurship case, Linda Hall joins my class by video after students have read and analysed the case. Entrepreneurship students ask her all their burning questions about what’s in the case study and also any other business-related topic.”

Popular in the classroom

Becca commented: “Students love these comic book case studies. They are surprised by how much information is packed into them. The comic book cases are also a change of scenery for them, so to speak, as compared to traditional cases. My author, Annie Zaleski, and I (as editor) choose every word in the captions and speech balloons carefully, so that each panel packs a punch with respect to a business person and their actions and decisions.”

Case writing tips

Becca explained: “I think cases by nature are plot-driven; I write what I call ‘True Business Adventure Tales’, so by that very name you can tell I’m a fan of plot-driven stories. At the same time, I think business is about people. It’s about character. It’s about you as a character, me as a character, us as characters, and, everyone as characters. To me, it’s writ-large about the character of capitalism. 

“And so, I think more cases should be as much character-driven as they are plot and decision-driven. We need to know and care about the characters. Trees don’t make decisions. Lollipops don’t make decisions. Characters do; people do.”

Comic book cases advantages

Sid added: “In traditional cases, a lot of thoughts, reflections and seemingly minor (but nonetheless important/critical) observations are left unsaid. Whereas in a comic book style format it can be mentioned as part of the natural flow. Minor details, thoughts and actions that are critical to the case can be highlighted better.

“Secondly, important elements, points, and observations can be easily emphasised through visuals. It may not be possible to do so through plain text in traditional cases.

“Thirdly, in a traditional case format, the chronology and theme tend to be more linear. But in the comic book style, authors and illustrators can show a more creative approach to chronology and theme, interweaving time and theme from panel to panel, and from page to page.”

The case

Who - the protagonist

Linda Hall, CEO of MinuteClinic.

What?

A seasoned exec, Linda was brought in as CEO to grow, raise capital for, and rebrand QuickMedx (to MinuteClinic). QuickMedx provided retail health clinic services across America.

Linda and her team grew revenue from $6m to $20m, increased the company’s clinics from eight in one state to 100 in ten states, and partnered with retail giants Target and CVS.

MinuteClinic was transformed and drew industry admiration, media attention and investor capital with its growth.

Cell from the Exit Strategy cartoon case

Why?

Linda’s team did extraordinary work strategically growing the business to the point where it could be acquired by CVS. However, as she looks back on a great growth trajectory, she also wishes she had done several things differently to manage her relationships with some board members and investors and her own stake in the business.

In the spring of 2005, Linda went from being CEO to COO after a new CEO replaced her. Later that year, she was asked to offer her resignation.

As her departure agreement was negotiated by her naïve (to the ways of venture capital) lawyer, Linda later realised her equity provisions weren’t ‘market’. Linda regretted her decision not to appoint a lawyer who knew how to represent her interests better, and not seeking advice from former entrepreneur CEOs.

Where?

MinuteClinic has a major presence across America, having continued to grow under CVS’ ownership.

When?

Linda was appointed as CEO in 2002.

After raising $5.2m and forming a three-person board in the same year, two further people were added in 2003, followed by another round of investment that raised $15m in 2004.

But a difficult 2005 saw Linda demoted, then resigning, and in 2006 her departure was confirmed.

Key quote

“We’re bringing in someone with multi-location retail experience as CEO. You’ll become COO.”
Linda’s superior breaking the bad news to her.

What next?

As the acquisition of MinuteClinic by CVS was taking place in 2006, after her departure from the company, but while she still held equity, Linda received some welcome news.

Although her counsel had failed to create important equity vesting provisions, the board agreed retroactively to apply the provisions such that she owned a greater percentage of the company than she originally thought. Linda’s equity ownership was modified so that she would receive proceeds from the CVS acquisition as if she already had a ‘market-level’ or entrepreneur-savvy agreement. Upon hearing this, Linda was (very) pleased but wondered whether she could have done things differently during her time at MinuteClinic.

Could Linda have better managed her relationships with some board members and investors, so as to remain CEO longer? Could she have asked for more mentorship and coaching? And, should she have better managed her own stake in the business? There was plenty of reflecting to be done.

AUTHOR PERSPECTIVE 

Author perspective

Changing the narrative

Becca said: “I wanted to write a case about the amazing story of Linda Hall and her team growing MinuteClinic in its early years. She is a brilliant thinker, leader, and doer. 

“As I was interviewing her for the growth story, the tale of her departure from the company naturally arose. I find that her ‘exit story’ is a common one - an everyman’s or everywoman’s tale as far as entrepreneurship is concerned. Entrepreneurs could benefit lots from learning through her storytelling in terms of how to think about and manage their own personal exit from a company they create and grow.”

Cell from the Exit Strategy cartoon case

In memory of Debapratim

Becca continued: “I have co-founded and/or led numerous organisations, and I know, as an entrepreneur myself, I don’t especially enjoy talking about my departure from the companies. The start-up is more exciting than the exit. Linda shared her story for this case as an act of generosity, but for her, covering her exit wasn’t as much fun as covering the entrepreneurial growth she led (which will be our next comic book case study). 

“Additionally, our awesome illustrator, Sid Ghosh, had to deal with the fact that my case study creation process differs from the process he used with Debrapratim Purkayastha for many years. He and I dedicated this comic book to the memory of Debapratim, a beloved professor at ICFAI Business School Hyderabad. Debapratim created terrific comic book case studies, beloved by The Case Centre’s customers, and his and Sid’s works inspired many educators, including me. Debapratim passed away from COVID-19 in 2021. Knowing I couldn’t live up to Sid’s late collaborator’s extraordinary capabilities didn’t crush me though. I hope Sid was able to find humour in my good-natured but imperfect attempts.”

Quick and easy

She added: “The undergraduate professors who have used our comic book case studies love them because they are short and visual, they’re very easy to access (just press a button and download), and they are self-contained. They take five minutes to read and the end notes take another five minutes. So, reading the case, analysing it, and reflecting on it, can all be done within one class session if you want. The teaching note offers basic ideas for kick-off questions, and then moves into synthesis, analysis, reflection, and learning. Professors need only prepare for about 40 minutes in order to use the case for the first time, and they need less preparation with each successive time.

“Also, the subjects of the comic book case studies video visit (live, real time) into my class. For instance, in this entrepreneurship case, Linda Hall joins my class by video after students have read and analysed the case. Entrepreneurship students ask her all their burning questions about what’s in the case study and also any other business-related topic.”

Popular in the classroom

Becca commented: “Students love these comic book case studies. They are surprised by how much information is packed into them. The comic book cases are also a change of scenery for them, so to speak, as compared to traditional cases. My author, Annie Zaleski, and I (as editor) choose every word in the captions and speech balloons carefully, so that each panel packs a punch with respect to a business person and their actions and decisions.”

Case writing tips

Becca explained: “I think cases by nature are plot-driven; I write what I call ‘True Business Adventure Tales’, so by that very name you can tell I’m a fan of plot-driven stories. At the same time, I think business is about people. It’s about character. It’s about you as a character, me as a character, us as characters, and, everyone as characters. To me, it’s writ-large about the character of capitalism. 

“And so, I think more cases should be as much character-driven as they are plot and decision-driven. We need to know and care about the characters. Trees don’t make decisions. Lollipops don’t make decisions. Characters do; people do.”

Comic book cases advantages

Sid added: “In traditional cases, a lot of thoughts, reflections and seemingly minor (but nonetheless important/critical) observations are left unsaid. Whereas in a comic book style format it can be mentioned as part of the natural flow. Minor details, thoughts and actions that are critical to the case can be highlighted better.

“Secondly, important elements, points, and observations can be easily emphasised through visuals. It may not be possible to do so through plain text in traditional cases.

“Thirdly, in a traditional case format, the chronology and theme tend to be more linear. But in the comic book style, authors and illustrators can show a more creative approach to chronology and theme, interweaving time and theme from panel to panel, and from page to page.”

The protagonist

Read the case

Educators can login to view a free educator preview copy of this case and its accompanying teaching note.

GRAPHIC FORMAT CASE - Reference no. BI0006
TEACHING NOTE - Reference no. BI0006TN

This case is dedicated to the late and revered case writer and academic Debapratim Purkayastha.

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