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Ideas Made to Matter

Platforms

An expert approach to platform strategies

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The world’s most valuable companies ­— Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon — are platform businesses. About two-thirds of “unicorns” and other startups are platform businesses. And platform systems exist in social media (Facebook), video games (Nintendo), payments (PayPal), and more.

“We really do live in a platform world, so it’s worth trying to understand this at a deeper level, whether or not you’re an entrepreneur or a manager or even a user,” said MIT Sloan professor Michael Cusumano, during a new webinar sponsored by the System Design & Management program at MIT.

Cusumano is an expert in strategy, product development, and entrepreneurship. He is the co-author of the book “The Business of Platforms: Strategy in the Age of Digital Competition, Innovation, and Power.”

Cusumano’s online lecture highlights various chapters of the book, including how to build a platform business — and why your market might not be right for one — the characteristics of a winning platform, what he sees in the future for platforms, and a phenomenon he and his co-authors coined “platformania.”

“Sometimes people think that if you ‘platformize’ a particular business, you have to make money. You have that potential exponential growth in front of you. And in some ways it’s a winner’s curse,” Cusumano said. “Let’s think about Uber. They’ve actually won 70% of the U.S. market but what have they won? They’ve won the right to lose billions of dollars a year because of the way they’re structured.”

For more about Uber’s platform woes, which companies are doing it right, and other platform strategy insight, watch the complete lecture below.

And if you're ready to go deeper, apply for "Managing Product Platforms: Delivering Variety and Realizing Synergies," an MIT Sloan Executive Education course.

 

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