How James Monsees & JUUL disrupted Big Tobacco

James Monsees and JUUL

How they disrupted big tobacco - and went to a $38 billion valuation

2015 Juul burst on the scene with a mission to render cigarettes obsolete. Now, the tobacco giant Altria, maker of Marlboro and other top-selling brands of cigarettes, has agreed to pay nearly $13 billion for a 35 percent stake in Juul Labs.

This values the wildly popular vaping company at $38 billion. WORLDWEBFORUM will be presenting James Monsees,  co-founder and Chief Product Officer of the innovative market disruptor exclusively at our 2019 conference in Zurich.

Judging from international media interest and the counter-competition behaviours of Big Tobacco corporations, Juul is becoming a force to be reckoned with, both from a business and societal perspective.

How did it all start?

When James Monsees and Adam Bowen were design students at Stanford University, they began working on an unusual graduation thesis: they wanted to reinvent the e-cigarette. Today, their popular product known as the JUUL device, is a rechargeable USB stick doppelganger with insertable nicotine pods. It’s nicotine delivery via nicotine salt and zero tobacco is likened to reflect real cigarettes and is regarded as “the disruptor” to the tobacco business.

Monsees and Bowen created the JUUL device with the goal of making traditional smoking obsolete. Smokers are converting to electronic smoking at a staggering rate: Juul Labs now controls almost half of the e-cigarette market, with almost 800 percent growth in 2017. Bloomberg has predicted that by 2047 there will be more sales of vaping devices and its components than sales by the traditional tobacco industry. British American Tobacco (BAT) estimated the global tobacco market to be worth approximately US$760 billion and according to JUUL, there are one billion smokers in the world.

JUUL’s point of difference

Thanks to its slick design, target market and open communication, JUUL Labs have positioned themselves differently – similar to how Apple competed against IBM. JUUL Labs are actively fostering discussions about limiting the negative effects of smoking, in comparison to powerful lobby groups in the US, who had to be coerced into admitting and publicizing the negative impacts of smoking. 

JUUL’s threat to Big Tobacco

The impact of new tech entrants to old-school industries with high power shows the potential of industry disruptors in shifting the balance of power between masters and servants. In the words of CNBC’s Jim Cramer, “We saw the market’s sudden recognition that the cigarette industry seems to be in serious trouble, disrupted by the rise of vaping.” If vaping is the new smoking, then JUUL is the master. There’s just one problem: the old masters of Big tobacco want to put disruptor JUUL out of business – and is joining ranks with health organizations. And now, Altria has found a way to deal with it: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Learn from JUUL co-founder James Monsees in an exclusive hands-on workshop about “The Secret of Disruption”, limited to 25 participants only, first come first served.

Buy your ticket now, and secure your seat in the workshop with James Monsees.