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Kurzworld: Basketball Nanomotors and Glidden Paints

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When Lebron James came back to Cleveland, the folks at Glidden Paints were in a playful mood. Their R&D team in automotive paints had been looking at Nano technology for paint repairs to match colors that had faded.

Of course the news about Harvard’s success with Under Armor had made the general and financial press. The sale of Glidden to PPG also had given some team members new job responsibilities thinking about how to expand markets. At a team-building outing, Jim Glidden came up to bat with the bases loaded. He put on his Under Armor ‘Larry Doby’ shirt and the crowd chanted, “fix.” Jim was a very distant relative to the founder and had a good sense of humor. After hitting it out of the park, the discussion about how much of the technology was involved in the win moved to how much the nanos could really optimize. Glidden’s wife Gloria was a Case Western medical technology professor and it was she who suggested that a skin application could be concentrated to deliver nanomotors to the body. She had been using 3D printers to rebuild veins and skin in her practice, which led her to the idea.

The NBA had been shut out of the Under Armor uniform deals and the uniforms would not be changed to optimize for Under Armor’s technology. Gloria speculated that it was skin that mattered and she suggested that Lebron’s tattoos could be licensed for a solution similar to Under Armor’s. But would the NBA have to be involved or could Lebron license his tattoos directly?

As the discussion continued, it was clear that the R&D team needed to involve legal and licensing lawyers at PPG. Glidden came with the team and presented to management reminding them that Glidden’s original motto was “Glidden Gets you Going.”




Edited by Ken Briodagh

Partner, Crossfire Media

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