In 2016, new CEO Chris Linthwaite had been brought in to turn around Fluidigm Corporation (Fluidigm), a biotechnology company based in San Francisco. Following a year of missed earnings, strong currency headwinds, product backorders, strong competition, and a lag in product demand, Fluidigm’s stock had collapsed 87% in 10 months. Fluidigm was burning through cash; it had posted yet another quarter of losses; employee morale had plummeted; and the company had mounting cash flow issues. Linthwaite was preparing his turnaround strategy to present to his board of directors. He had many levers he could pull to right the ship, including cost cutting and restructuring, launching new products, and making an acquisition.
This case is intended for a first-year MBA course in business strategy. The course develops students’ ability to evaluate, design, and execute a firm’s strategy by analyzing the competitive and organizational factors essential to sustained success. The case is used in the latter half of the course and is about selecting an appropriate growth strategy for a company in turmoil. It is used to introduce the basic tradeoffs between pursuing organic growth strategies, such as R&D and innovation, and pursuing other possible strategies, such as inorganic growth through acquisitions, cost cutting, and restructuring.