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Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry case study


At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Mary M. Crossan, Margaret Ann Wilkinson, Mark Perry, Trevor Hunter. The Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry (referred as “Music Mp3” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Technology & Operations. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Intellectual property, Regulation.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment






Case Description of Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry Case Study


The music industry has changed dramatically as a result of technological and business innovations that have transformed how music is acquired, and how value is created and distributed. Napster, Inc. operated one of several Web sites that allowed Internet users free access to MP3 music files--which eventually led to lawsuits around issues of the protection of intellectual capital. These issues lead to the examination of the forces at play in the transformation of the music industry, the strategic alternatives for players in the industry and the legal context underpinning the strategic alternatives, with a particular focus on the protection of intellectual capital.


Case Authors : Mary M. Crossan, Margaret Ann Wilkinson, Mark Perry, Trevor Hunter

Topic : Technology & Operations

Related Areas : Intellectual property, Regulation




Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry Case Study


Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10021148) -10021148 - -
Year 1 3443706 -6577442 3443706 0.9434 3248779
Year 2 3963635 -2613807 7407341 0.89 3527621
Year 3 3951674 1337867 11359015 0.8396 3317902
Year 4 3223800 4561667 14582815 0.7921 2553552
TOTAL 14582815 12647854




The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2626706

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting


What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.




Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting


There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Internal Rate of Return
2. Net Present Value
3. Profitability Index
4. Payback Period

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Music Mp3 shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Music Mp3 have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.






Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Technology & Operations Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Music Mp3 often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Music Mp3 needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.



Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10021148) -10021148 - -
Year 1 3443706 -6577442 3443706 0.8696 2994527
Year 2 3963635 -2613807 7407341 0.7561 2997078
Year 3 3951674 1337867 11359015 0.6575 2598290
Year 4 3223800 4561667 14582815 0.5718 1843218
TOTAL 10433112


The Net NPV after 4 years is 411964

(10433112 - 10021148 )








Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%


If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10021148) -10021148 - -
Year 1 3443706 -6577442 3443706 0.8333 2869755
Year 2 3963635 -2613807 7407341 0.6944 2752524
Year 3 3951674 1337867 11359015 0.5787 2286848
Year 4 3223800 4561667 14582815 0.4823 1554688
TOTAL 9463815


The Net NPV after 4 years is -557333

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9463815 - 10021148 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Music Mp3 to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.





Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Music Mp3 has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Music Mp3 can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Music Mp3, then the stock price of the Music Mp3 should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Music Mp3 should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.






Negotiation Strategy of Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry

References & Further Readings

Mary M. Crossan, Margaret Ann Wilkinson, Mark Perry, Trevor Hunter (2018), "Napster and MP3: Redefining the Music Industry Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.


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