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7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy by [Hamilton Helmer]
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7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 338 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"Hamilton Helmer is the best kind of big thinker - he offers great insights that you can turn into real world action. At Spotify the 7 Powers are widely used as we discuss new initiatives. His distillation of the key types of strategic power, how to find them, how to leverage them, and how to maintain them is a fantastic toolset forcompanies at every stage" - Daniel Ek, CEO and Founder of Spotify 

"The forces of competition are just incredibly strong. Everyone is trying to eat your lunch, and if you don't read 7 Powers you're going to die alot sooner" - Reed Hastings, CEO and Co-Founder of Netflix 
"7 Powers lays out a clear, compelling and insightful framework forthinking about the persistent sources of competitive advantage. Helmerdraws on three decades of experience to break down how companiesestablish power and shape their industries, illustrating at every turnwith entertaining and illuminating examples" - Jonathan Levin, Philip H Knight Dean, Stanford Graduate School of Business 

"Hamilton Helmer understands that strategy starts with invention. He can't tellyou what to invent, but he can and does show what it takes for a newinvention to become a valuable business" - Peter Thiel, entrepreneur and investor 

"7 Powers provides vital guidance for any business person developingstrategy. I have known Hamilton for over a decade since his time as astrategy advisor to Adobe, and I am delighted that he is now sharing his original and compelling business insights" - Bruce Chizen, former CEO of Adobe 

"Hamilton is a deep thinker who makes a compelling connection between passion and good business. His ideas are well thought out, wise, and oftenchallenging. I always look forward to what he has to say" - Pete Docter, Pixar director and two-time Academy Award winner for Up and Inside Out 

"Making a small number of decisions wisely is far more important than making alot of decisions correctly. Hamilton Helmer explains exactly how theleaders of the world's most successful businesses get that small numberjust right" - Mike Moritz, Chairman of Sequoia Capital 

"Correctly places enormous value on execution and on culture. However, I thinkthis sometimes leads to insufficient importance being placed onstrategy. Hamilton Helmer's deeply incisive work will hopefully helpcorrect that" - Patrick Collison, CEO and Co-Founder of Stripe Silicon Valley 

"7 Powers is a highly innovative approach to understanding some of the key underlying drivers of company value and capturing ideas that certainlyare not very well understood in the markets. And the result has been one of the most exceptional and sustained alpha records I've ever seen" - Blake Grossman, former CEO of Barclays Global Investors 

"This book is a must-read for anyone starting or growing a business. It laysout an elegant and insightful framework that really helped inspire mythinking about building and maintaining strategic advantage in acompetitive landscape" - Daphne Koller, President and Co-Founder of Coursera 

"A startup must have a compelling way of getting traction to beinvestable. Otherwise, it's simply a bleeding hole that burns throughmoney. 7 Powers rigorously lays out the strategies for a company to getthis traction and details what it takes to get there. Anyone starting abusiness should read it" - Sean O' Sullivan, Founder and Managing Partner, SOSV 

"A master in the discipline of strategy, Hamilton has condensed 40 yearsof thought and practice into a single readable book. Read it and to your benefit you will see the 7 Powers everywhere you look" - Mark Baumgartner, Chief Investment Officer, Institute for Advanced Study 

"Mentor has benefited from a continuing consulting relationship with Hamiltonfor the better part of 20 years and has incorporated many of his ideasand principles into the core of our strategy. 7 Powersconsolidates those ideas and principles into a powerful framework andvocabulary to describe and permit analysis of where a company stands inits competitive space. It's a powerful work" - Greg Hinckley, President, Mentor Graphic Corporation

About the Author

Hamilton Helmer has spent his career as a practicing business strategist. At Helmer & Associates (later Deep Strategy), a strategy consulting firm he founded, he has led over 200 strategy projects with major clients such as Adobe Systems, Agilent Technologies, Coursera, Hewlett-Packard, John Hancock Mutual Life, Mentor Graphics, Netflix, Raychem, and Spotify. Over the last two decades he has also utilized his Strategy concepts as an active equity investor and is currently Chief Investment Officer and Co-Founder of Strategy Capital. Prior to Helmer & Associates he was employed at Bain & Company. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Williams College. Mr. Helmer was Board Chair of American Science and Engineering (NASDAQ: ASEI) and currently teaches Business Strategy in the Economics Department of Stanford University. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B01MRLFFQ7
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Deep Strategy LLC (November 16, 2016)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 16, 2016
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 11323 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 263 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 338 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
338 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best business books I've read in my career
By David J. Rosenthal on February 12, 2020
I work as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, and first heard about this hidden gem of a book from a fellow VC. Having now read it, I can say it is more than just a gem - this is one of the very best business and strategy books written in the past 30 years, up there with Innovator's Dilemma, Lean Startup and Good to Great. As you can see from the photo, I've covered nearly every page in notes and highlights. In reading it, I found Hamilton providing both:

1) Incisive theoretical frameworks for dynamics that I'd observed intuitively in my work as an investor and board member for startup companies but couldn't quite put my finger on explaining. E.g., that individual company leaders are not sources of sustained competitive advantage ("cornered resources" in Hamilton's terms) because their services can be bought and sold and thus their value is arbitraged by the market. (Note this applies even to company founders - "superstar" teams will typically raise capital at much higher prices than "unknowns". Very often the price paid by investors for this talent does not adequately compensate for the market risk still faced by the fledgling company.)

and 2) whole new ways of thinking about the relationship between market opportunities (what most startups and VCs blindly chase), and the potential for sustainable, differentiated value to be built by a single firm within that market opportunity (Hamilton's concept of "Power"). I can't wait to apply these lessons to my own career going forward, and will be recommending Hamilton's ideas to all companies and entrepreneurs I work with from now on!
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Reviewed in the United States on August 1, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on December 1, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must read strategy book for every founder and investor today!
By Rishi Gosalia on December 1, 2019
“Any strategy framework, to be broadly useful to a businessperson, must address all the key strategy issues facing an organization. Hamilton has long been been aware of the deficiencies in existing frameworks. His solution? To forge ahead with entirely novel conceptual advances, and then to bind these together into a united whole.” This is what Reed Hastings, CEO and co-founder of Netflix, writes in the book introduction!

The book is an absolute must read if you are a founder building a business or a long-term investor and betting on the durable long-term competitive strengths of the business. Hamilton Helmer, the author, defines the meaning of strategy and power:

Strategy: The study of the fundamental determinants of potential business value
Power: The set of conditions creating the potential for persistent differential returns

and then goes to show that a business derives its Potential Value = [Market Scale] * [Power]. Hamilton lays out the seven sources of Powers for a business, all from first principles, and illustrates these with very good examples from the real world. The seven powers: Scale economics, Network economics, counter-positioning, switching costs, branding, cornered resource, process power.

My favorite power is the one called “Counter-Positioning”. I have read all the popular strategy books and I don’t think I have come across this concept as clearly articulated in any other book. He defines Counter-Positioning as follows: “A newcomer adopts a new, superior business model which the incumbent does not mimic due to anticipated damage to their existing business.”

Here is what Reed Hastings says about Counter-Positioning in the book’s introduction. “Throughout my career I have often observed power incumbents, once lauded for their business acumen, failing to adjust to a new competitive reality. The result is always a stunning fall from grace. A superficial thinker might pin this on lack of vision and leadership. Not Hamilton. By inventing the concept of Counter-Positioning, he was able to peel back the layers into the deeper reality of these situations. Rather than lacking vision, Hamilton established, these incumbents are in fact acting in an entirely predictable and economically rational way. Our earlier battle with Blockbuster bore out this notion”

Hamilton is not only an author and an academic. He was also an early investor in Netflix and had tremendous impact on the strategy at Netflix and many other organizations. This book is a must read. I strongly recommend it!
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Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on January 24, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

5.0 out of 5 stars Finally an intersection between Silicon Valley and Value Investors!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 25, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally an intersection between Silicon Valley and Value Investors!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 25, 2021
I read 7 Powers right through in one sitting. I've compartmentalised Silicon Valley go-go-go culture in one area of my brain, and value investors watching paint dry in another areas. This book is the first one that reconciled the two in my head. Strategy/ power/ moat/ barriers are all subtly different and if you're interested in long term cash flows, I encourage you to dive into this book and incorporate these differences into your investing mental models.

This book will be good for value investors, tech startup founders and corporate execs. That's a rare trio to serve in one book.

I found the "counterpositioning" power the most compelling in terms of new thinking. The example given is Vanguard vs asset managers. Previously I'd seen asset managers as choosing to charge active management fees, the counterpostioning chapter made me realise they had no choice.

While tech founders might find a quick read useful, I would encourage professional investors to read it closely and learn the framework Hamilton Helmer has outlined.

The charts and "math" are very useful as you go deeper into the concepts, but you can easily gain much by sticking to just the text.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Okay okay
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 28, 2017
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Andrew Beurschgens, a passionate BlackBerry user
5.0 out of 5 stars Great restatement of all things strategic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 8, 2018
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on strategy ever
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 27, 2020
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Oscar Del Santo
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful in every respect
Reviewed in Spain on June 18, 2020
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