The Catalyst: How open source design (and a big shot of fashion) saved Puma, and invented an industry.

"Puma North America was on the verge of bankruptcy after its parent's eight consecutive years of losses; it had little cash and even less cachet in an industry of heavyweights such as Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. So instead of trying to one-up the peddlers of performance-enhancing gear, Zeitz (Jochen Zeitz CEO, Puma AG - Nuremberg, Germany) inverted industry priorities, deemphasizing sport in favor of more fashion-driven thinking: color, line, and style.

Puma has since become the fourth-largest athletic apparel company in the world, a transformation that testifies to Zeitz's vision and willingness to roll the dice. After spending several years kicking the company's bad habits--by slashing production costs and regaining control of U.S. distribution, among other things--he decided to put an unrestrained 21-year-old skateboarder named Antonio Bertone in charge of a new division called "sport lifestyle" to incubate experimental fashion projects.

Zeitz, meanwhile, has gone on to turn his company into an open-source design playground."

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