Expert case by Vai

Increasing net worth of Johnny Depp

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Problem Definition

Johnny Depp, now 56 years old, has started to feel that his acting career is about to get over. His net worth crossed over $650 million at the peak of his career but has since dwindled, amid lawsuits and lifestyle expenses. As such, he thinks that his current wealth might not be enough for his upcoming years. So, he’s hired you as a consultant to help him find ways to multiply his worth. What can you suggest?


This is an unconventional case example to help you prepare for your interviews at MBB. This is based on a real case asked at one of the big 3. The purpose of your case is to be creative and think on your feet in an unconventional way.

Short Solution


Paragraphs highlighted in blue can be verbally communicated to the interviewee.

Paragraphs highlighted in orange indicate hints for you on how to guide the interviewee through the case.

Warm-up questions:

  • Do you know the celebrity? Where have you seen him?
  • What are the drivers of celebrity net worth in your opinion?
  • How would you characterize his fan base?

The last question should be asked to candidates who already know who Johnny Depp is. The interviewer should either lead the candidate towards explaining how the candidate understands the actor's brand or explain that the client is a golden globe winning Hollywood actor who is best known for his portrayal of eccentric characters in films.

1. What are the client's existing businesses?

He currently owns two businesses. A production company "Infinitum Nihil" in 2004, where he served as founder and CEO along with his sister Christi Dembrowski as president and a rock group named "Hollywood Vampires" which released albums in 2015 and 2019.

2. What are the asset classes that the client is interested in exploring?

He is not interested in exploring traditional investment opportunities like the stock market, property, gold, etc. as these would not help him multiply his wealth. He is interested in areas where his brand could deliver the most value.

3. Let's develop a long list of potential businesses - what are some of the potential businesses where the client can best leverage his brand?

The candidate should by now understand that we’re currently looking at only those investment opportunities that would help the client leverage his brand as a popular household name. This should help the candidate come up with a laundry list of ideas.
  1. He could use the success of his motion picture production house to set up a record label like Sony Music. He could use his network to tie-up with production houses to make sure of the success of such a company.
  2. He could open up an acting school on the lines of "The Julliard School" or "California Institute of the Arts". Since the client is a big brand, he could use it to compete with the existing acting schools in the country.
  3. He could start a talk show on television. Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest women in the world because of her talk shows!
  4. He could invest in sports other than football. He could buy an F-1 team or invest in the Chinese/Asian soccer clubs.

After initial 3-4 ideas, the interviewer shall pressure test the candidate's suggestions. For example, would investing in F-1 or soccer clubs in Europe effectively leverage the Depp brand?

It likely wouldn’t. The client is a popular household name among fans of Hollywood cinema across the globe. In that case, one should focus on such investments in countries with strong Hollywood influence. He could invest in a team like NBA or baseball in the US.

Interviewer shall push the candidate to come up with concrete suggestions and take one of the suggestions to discuss rationale. For example, ask if the suggestion is to invest in a sports team, ask the candidate to explain the rationale.

The candidate recommends choosing the NBA over baseball. This is because basketball is a global sport and it enjoys a larger international fan base outside of the US than compared to baseball.

Pressure test candidate to come up with an even longer list of suggestions in quick succession.
  1. He could set up his own clothing line
  2. He could also start his own line of men grooming products
  3. He could also start his own line of watches
  4. He could launch his own fitness chain
  5. He could launch his own entertainment show
  6. He could set up a radio channel

4. What will be the criterion to come up with a shortlist for suggestions?

Guide the candidate to come up with a list of criteria to shorten the long list of suggestions to top three suggestions.
  1. Market Landscape
    1. Market size/ growth trends
    2. Competitor analysis (key players, market share, how competitive is the market)
    3. Customer analysis (key segments, the synergy between fans of the client and propensity to buy the new product)
    4. Regulations and other barriers to entry
  2. Financial projections for each alternative
    1. Investment requirement
    2. Business case
    3. Investment horizon
  3. Strategic Issues
    1. Synergy with existing businesses
    2. Impact on personal brand

The long list of suggestions is interesting. What in your view are the most relevant shortlisting criterion for the client?

Before the candidate starts analyzing each and every suggestion, guide the candidate to align on the most important shortlisting criterion out of the long list. The candidate shall not analyze the long list of suggestions against each and every shortlisting criterion but only against top 3 criteria as per the client.

The client is a medium net worth individual ($50-$500M). As such, he doesn't want to get in a highly competitive or capital intensive business. Further, he would like to see results soon to decide if the business is worth pursuing.

Based on his net worth and investment preferences, the three most important criteria for shortlisting of investment ideas could be:

  1. Less competitive intensity – Invest in a niche market where no well-known multinational is present. Thus, the client won't have to burn cash to acquire users
  2. Short return horizon – Invest in a market where the client can start generating operational profits within a short time frame, let's say a year
  3. Less capital investment required – Invest in a market where operations can be started with limited investment, let's say less than $10M

While the criteria that the candidate chooses could differ from the recommendations above, it should not deviate widely from the client's preference for less capital intensive, quick result and a niche business.

Using the shortlisted criterion, which are the top 3-4 potential business as per candidate, where further deep dive can be conducted?

Prompt candidate to summarize the list of business suggested so far, before diving deep into the analysis of ideas.

The investment ideas we have discussed so far are:

  1. Record label – Less attractive as there are already big labels present with exclusive deals with artists
  2. Acting school – Potential candidate as the client has been recognized for being an excellent actor
  3. F1 team – Less attractive as the business requires heavy investment and long return horizon
  4. Sports club – Potential candidate if the client is fine with investing in a tier 3-4 leagues club
  5. Talk Show – Potential candidate if the client could find a unique positioning for the show
  6. Clothing line – Less attractive as apparel is a very competitive space
  7. Men grooming products – Less attractive as grooming products are a very competitive space
  8. Watches – Less attractive as watches are a very competitive space with a high investment requirement
  9. Fitness chain – Less attractive as it is a capital intensive business with a long return horizon
  10. Entertainment show – Less attractive as it requires high upfront investment and not possible to predict success without show release
  11. Radio channel – Potential candidate if the client could find a unique positioning for the channel

Thus, the shortlist for further analysis would be the potential investment in an acting school, low tier sports club, talk show or a radio channel.

Difficult Questions

1) Out of the suggestions, choose an idea that you think is worth investing in. Prepare a pitch to convince the client to invest in it.

The client could invest in an online acting venture. The client is well regarded as an actor and could leverage his reputation to launch the venture.

Suggested pitch: Online learning is not only changing how people learn, but it's the destination where people are going first to learn a new skill. With your expertise, learners have the opportunity to learn from the very best.

2) Choose an idea that you think is totally ridiculous. Imagine that the client is very bullish on this idea. Convince him not to invest in it.

I understand that you want to invest in a company making a salt shaker that's also a music speaker. I recommend you to not to go ahead with the investment without a thorough assessment of the market landscape (do customers see this as a necessity at the given price point?). My preliminary hypothesis is that the product price doesn't justify the purchase as customers see the two functionalities (salt shaker and music speaker) as unrelated use cases. Hence, I suggest you do a thorough DD.

Do you have questions on this case? Ask our community!
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Do you have questions on this case? Ask our community!