Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Platform Companies Are Becoming More Powerful — but What Exactly Do They Want? - The New York Times

Pondering platform permutations

"Uber, like so many other successful tech companies in 2017, is a “platform business,” one built around matchmaking between vendors and customers. If successful, a platform creates its own marketplace; if extremely successful, it ends up controlling something closer to an entire economy. This is intuitive in a case like eBay, which connects buyers and sellers. Airbnb, too, resembles an age-old form of commerce, connecting property owners with short-term lodgers. TaskRabbit and Fiverr connect contractors with people looking to hire them. Some of the largest platforms are less obviously transactional: Facebook and Google connect advertisers with users, users with one another, software developers with users. But while the transactions that happen on their platforms largely take a different form — taps, shares, ads served and scrolled past — the principles are essentially the same, as are the benefits. These businesses are asset- and employee-light, low on liability and high on upside. They aspire to monopoly, often unapologetically, and have been instrumental in rehabilitating the concept. (The logic is seductive and often self-evident: Facebook is more useful if everyone is on it, therefore everyone should be on Facebook.)"
Platform Companies Are Becoming More Powerful — but What Exactly Do They Want? - The New York Times
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