Their roadmap is huge and they must prioritize top features. Why would a company want a platform? Platforms offer a powerful network effect. The fastest way to more features is to get others to build them. 1 2 3
Hustle: Building on top of
Craigslist In the early days, the Airbnb founders built an integration with Craigslist for their ads to reach a larger audience. (They also sold politically themed cereal to get out of debt.)
The Longer Answer: You need
to get in front of users to grow. All companies start with zero users. You need to go where the users already are. Big platforms have lots of users. &
We live in an era
of HUGE platforms 3.5B searches per day 1.5B users 1B+ active users 1B active users 700M active users 400M active users 300M active users 300M users Growing very fast
These companies want to grow
too.. Better results for a query Friends sharing more content Users sharing and watching more videos Friends and family talking more Sharing and viewing more pictures Sharing and viewing more content Professionals sharing more content More content Friends and family talking more
Partnerships used to require massive
BD Deals. The little startup Google partnered with Yahoo to power their search function until 2004. Today, partnerships between big and small companies are harder to come by than ever.
But even the biggest companies
have resource constraints. “The Top 20” If they are lucky, companies can build out their top top 10 features, maybe 20.
Their roadmap is huge and
they must prioritize top features. Why would a company want a platform? Platforms offer a powerful network effect. The fastest way to more features is to get others to build them. 1 2 3
Every successful platform needs: Clear
incentives for developers to get value. “Show me the users or money!” Clear value for users. More to do on the product = more time & more fun Trust from users. Users have to trust that the platform protects them. 1 2 3
1 2 But here’s what
they are afraid of: “Pee in the pool” Platforms fear developers will spam their users. “Robbers” Platforms fear losing data and monetization opportunities. If you are building a core feature, they may compete with you or even just block you.
Knowing that, here are things
to keep in mind when building on platforms. Do not fill gaps. Don’t build a product that solves a temporary deficiency in the platform. Do not expect platforms to be constant. Prepare for inevitable platform shifts. 1 2
Why do platforms shift? Users
of the main product want new experiences. If any consumer product stops getting better, it will die. The platform’s business model will keep evolving. Opportunities to make money can radically shift the platform strategy. Users stop trusting or using apps. The platform has to address bad behaviors and increase user trust. 1 2 3
Examples of hitting the platform
risk Slide built on top of Facebook, but failed to generate “front door” direct traffic and lost users when Facebook shifted their platform. SocialCam used the Facebook graph and created an auto-share loop. Facebook found the loop to not match user’s expectations, and changed its algorithms. Meerkat used the Twitter social graph to accelerate growth, but Twitter shut them down to promote Periscope, the live streaming app they had bought.
Examples of success Instagram grew
quickly by making it easy to post photos on Facebook and Twitter, but also successfully became a destination that users visited everyday. YouTube made it simple to embed videos on Myspace, and then drew the Myspace user base to their site to watch more content. Dubsmash integrated with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for easy distribution, creating a viral share loop.
Platforms can work for you.
Remember the value exchange. In exchange for giving the platform users better content or features, the platform provides users and usage. They are an accelerant. Never get comfortable. Platforms can change. Take advantage of the moment at hand. Only core users who come through your front door matter. Don’t ever get confused with big numbers of visitors who pass through. 1 2 3