Why it matters
A feud — one of the most epic and, well, Biblical in business history — has lessons
by Barbara Smit. 237 pp. The Penguin Press
Are there any two more overused words in the book business than “changed” and “forever”? Sneaker Wars is a scintillating true story of sibling rivalry and success of involving enemy brothers behind Adidas and Puma, two sportswear global sports brands.
Barbara Smit’s fundamental claim in “Sneaker Wars” is that the multigenerational feud involving members of the German Dassler family “forever changed the business of sports.” The feud “shaped the modern sports business, giving rise to corruption and ever increasing financial stakes.”
Adi (Adolf) and Rudi (Rudolf) Dassler, started a successful shoe business in their mothers wash room. But a vicious family feud soon drew them apart, and by the end of WWII, the brothers had split the company dividing their family and hometown and launching them on antagonistic paths. From the fires of the antagonism, two rival sneaker brands that revolutionized the world of professional sports were born.
Adidas and Puma reinvented the world of sport, their rivalry introducing behind-the-scenes deals and multimillion-dollar contracts. From Pelé to Leonel Messi, to Muhammad Ali to David Beckham, to Rudisha to the Masaii Marathon. They all contribute to the roller-coaster rise, near collapse, and revival of the two brands. A page-turning narrative, Sneaker Wars is a riveting blend of family drama, business, sports, and history.
Sibling rivalry is an opportunity for entrepreneurial growth.