The appeal of some products is obvious. It's not hard to understand the attraction of an appetizing cheeseburger, a new action movie, or a revolutionary smartphone. Other products, however, have to work harder to explain the problem that they're solving.

Moreover, some industries serve fundamental needs in society—but don't receive the kind of attention heaped on upstarts like Snapchat: Think Oracle, the second-highest earning software developer in the world; its name would likely draw a...

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