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Startup Business Puzzles
Visualized And Explained1 SANGEET PAUL CHOUDARY
GEOFFREY PARKER
MARSHALL VAN ALSTYNE
Source: PLAT...
One compelling framework to
make sense of digital business
models
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Why do YouTube and Vimeo coexist
despite being similar offerings?
“
”Source: PLATFORM THINKING
How did Airbnb disrupt
Craigslist?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
It was Instagram, before Instagram
existed
Why did it fail?
Ever heard of
Hipstamatic? 

Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Why did LinkedIn beat
Monster?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
“ What's so special about
Medium, isn't it just about
blogging? ”
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
How did a 3-year old startup like
Mint beat a three-decade old
software like Quicken?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Flickr was doing so well, what
happened?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
What's so
revolutionary
about the App
Store model?
“
”
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
How did Facebook
eat MySpace and build
an entirely different
business?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
And finally...
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Airbnb is a platform, 

but so is GE's industrial
internet approach.
Medium is a platform 

but so is Nike.
How do you mak...
Read on to get 

all the answers
”
“Different questions, 

similar answers
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Too busy to get all the answers?
Download this deck
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Better still,
click here
to get the whole book
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
What does that even mean?
Let's visualize 

digital business models
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
The Platform Stack
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
To start visualizing,
we need a visual framework
Introducing...
The Platform Stack
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Wait... What's a platform?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Everyone seems to be building one...
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
But everyone has a different definition
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
The platform stack helps 

us understand this…
... and visualize any digital
business model
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
So WHAT is a platform?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
So what is a platform?
A platform is a plug-and-play
business model that allows 

multiple participants (producers
and con...
A lot of what we see today follows
the platform business model
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Buzzword alert...
all of these use
platform business models
Wearables
Sharing Economy
Industrial Internet
3D Printing
Inte...
The goal of a platform is
to enable interactions between…
Producers Consumers
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
To understand platforms, we need to use THE
PLATFORM STACK
Across all platforms, we observe
the following three layers3
Network / Marketplace / Community
Data
Technology Infrastruct...
Network / Marketplace / Community Layer
Users may
connect explicitly
Users may
interact without
connecting explicitly
User...
Technology Infrastructure
External producers build on top of this infrastructure
On Android,
developers
build apps
On Yout...
Data
Data matches users
and content
Data powers
relevance
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Different platforms have different
stack configurations
There are
3 basic
configurations
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Marketplace / Community-Dominant
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Infrastructure-Dominant
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Data-Dominant
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Every platform
is a different
configuration
of this stack
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Like what you’re
reading?
click here to enter the
book giveaway
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Startup Business Puzzles
Illustrated with the Platform Stack
1 Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Why do YouTube and Vimeo coexist
despite being similar offerings?
“
”Source: PLATFORM THINKING
YouTube Vimeo
Network / Marketplace /
Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Marketplace /
Community
Data
Tech...
YouTube Vimeo
Network / Marketplace /
Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Marketplace /
Community
Data
Tech...
YouTube Vimeo
Network / Marketplace /
Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Marketplace /
Community
Data
Tech...
How did Airbnb disrupt
Craigslist?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Craigslist Early Airbnb Airbnb
Network /
Marketplace /
Community
Technology
Infrastructure
Data
Marketplace /
Community
Te...
Craigslist Early Airbnb Airbnb
Network /
Marketplace /
Community
Technology
Infrastructure
Data
Marketplace /
Community
Te...
Craigslist Early Airbnb Airbnb
Network /
Marketplace /
Community
Technology
Infrastructure
Data
Marketplace /
Community
Te...
It was Instagram, before Instagram
existed
Why did it fail?
Ever heard of
Hipstamatic? 

Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Hipstamatic Instagram
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Hipstamatic Instagram
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Focus on provision of
t...
Hipstamatic Instagram
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Instagram beat Hipstama...
Why did LinkedIn beat
Monster?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Monster LinkedIn
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Lower network effect...
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
By focusing on overa...
“ What's so special about
Medium, isn't it just about
blogging? ”
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Wordpress Medium
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Wordpress Medium
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Infrastructure-only
focus
Le...
Wordpress Medium
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Medium is gaining rapid trac...
How did a 3-year old startup like
Mint beat a three-decade old
software like Quicken?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Quicken Mint
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Marketplace
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Quicken Mint
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Marketplace
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Focused only on provision of
s...
Quicken Mint
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Marketplace
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Mint’s business model leverage...
Flickr was doing so well, what
happened?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Flickr Facebook
Photos
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructu...
Flickr Facebook
Photos
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructu...
Flickr Facebook
Photos
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructu...
What's so
revolutionary
about the App
Store model?
“
”
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
MS Windows
Android +
Play Store
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
MS Windows
Android +
Play Store
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Focused only ...
MS Windows
Android +
Play Store
Technology Infrastructure
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
The app store...
How did Facebook
eat MySpace and build
an entirely different
business?
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
MySpace Facebook
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
MySpace Facebook
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Str...
MySpace Facebook
Network / Community
Technology Infrastructure
Data
Network / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
Fac...
Different platforms have different
stack configurations
There are
3 basic
configurations
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Your turn:
Analyze your platform using the platform stack
Network / Marketplace / Community
Data
Technology Infrastructure
And now,
click here
to get the whole book
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
Want to download this deck?
Click here!
Source: PLATFORM THINKING
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10 Startup Business Puzzles Visualized and Explained

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How did Airbnb beat Craigslist? What's special about the Medium blogging platform? How did LinkedIn eat Monster for lunch? How do Youtube and Vimeo coexist? Why was Mint.com so successful? Using the Platform Stack framework, this deck explains 10 startup business puzzles and creates a framework to solve many more.

10 Startup Business Puzzles Visualized and Explained

  1. Startup Business Puzzles Visualized And Explained1 SANGEET PAUL CHOUDARY GEOFFREY PARKER MARSHALL VAN ALSTYNE Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  2. One compelling framework to make sense of digital business models Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  3. Why do YouTube and Vimeo coexist despite being similar offerings? “ ”Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  4. How did Airbnb disrupt Craigslist? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  5. It was Instagram, before Instagram existed Why did it fail? Ever heard of Hipstamatic? 
 Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  6. Why did LinkedIn beat Monster? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  7. “ What's so special about Medium, isn't it just about blogging? ” Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  8. How did a 3-year old startup like Mint beat a three-decade old software like Quicken? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  9. Flickr was doing so well, what happened? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  10. What's so revolutionary about the App Store model? “ ” Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  11. How did Facebook eat MySpace and build an entirely different business? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  12. And finally... Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  13. Airbnb is a platform, 
 but so is GE's industrial internet approach. Medium is a platform 
 but so is Nike. How do you make sense of this? What exactly is a platform? ” “ Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  14. Read on to get 
 all the answers ” “Different questions, 
 similar answers Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  15. Too busy to get all the answers? Download this deck Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  16. Better still, click here to get the whole book Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  17. What does that even mean? Let's visualize 
 digital business models Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  18. The Platform Stack Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  19. To start visualizing, we need a visual framework Introducing... The Platform Stack Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  20. Wait... What's a platform? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  21. Everyone seems to be building one... Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  22. But everyone has a different definition Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  23. The platform stack helps 
 us understand this… ... and visualize any digital business model Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  24. So WHAT is a platform? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  25. So what is a platform? A platform is a plug-and-play business model that allows 
 multiple participants (producers and consumers) to connect to it, interact with each other and create and exchange value. ” “ Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  26. A lot of what we see today follows the platform business model Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  27. Buzzword alert... all of these use platform business models Wearables Sharing Economy Industrial Internet 3D Printing Internet of Things Social media App economy Crowdsourcing Gig economy Crowdfunding ! Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  28. The goal of a platform is to enable interactions between… Producers Consumers Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  29. To understand platforms, we need to use THE PLATFORM STACK
  30. Across all platforms, we observe the following three layers3 Network / Marketplace / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  31. Network / Marketplace / Community Layer Users may connect explicitly Users may interact without connecting explicitly Users may be connected implicitly E.g. Individual usage is benchmarked against others Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  32. Technology Infrastructure External producers build on top of this infrastructure On Android, developers build apps On Youtube, video creators host videos On Ebay, sellers create/host product availability Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  33. Data Data matches users and content Data powers relevance Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  34. Different platforms have different stack configurations There are 3 basic configurations Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  35. Marketplace / Community-Dominant Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  36. Infrastructure-Dominant Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  37. Data-Dominant Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  38. Every platform is a different configuration of this stack Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  39. Like what you’re reading? click here to enter the book giveaway Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  40. Startup Business Puzzles Illustrated with the Platform Stack 1 Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  41. Why do YouTube and Vimeo coexist despite being similar offerings? “ ”Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  42. YouTube Vimeo Network / Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Marketplace / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  43. YouTube Vimeo Network / Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Marketplace / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Improve viewer engagement and match-making Improve hosting infrastructure
  44. YouTube Vimeo Network / Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Marketplace / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Youtube and Vimeo co-exist by focusing on different layers of the stack
  45. How did Airbnb disrupt Craigslist? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  46. Craigslist Early Airbnb Airbnb Network / Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data
  47. Craigslist Early Airbnb Airbnb Network / Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Strong network layer only, low focus on tech and data Started with strong tech and data layers Built strong network effects and community over time
  48. Craigslist Early Airbnb Airbnb Network / Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Marketplace / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Airbnb beat Craigslist through superior execution on all layers
  49. It was Instagram, before Instagram existed Why did it fail? Ever heard of Hipstamatic? 
 Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  50. Hipstamatic Instagram Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  51. Hipstamatic Instagram Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Focus on provision of tools only Focus on creation of community through provision of tools
  52. Hipstamatic Instagram Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Instagram beat Hipstamatic by focusing on community and building network effects
  53. Why did LinkedIn beat Monster? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  54. Monster LinkedIn Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  55. Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Lower network effects, focusing only on active job seekers Much stronger network effects and higher data leverage lading to activation of passive seekers Monster LinkedIn
  56. Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure By focusing on overall data acquisition about professionals, LinkedIn has better data to match the recruitment market Monster LinkedIn
  57. “ What's so special about Medium, isn't it just about blogging? ” Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  58. Wordpress Medium Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  59. Wordpress Medium Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Infrastructure-only focus Less sophisticated infrastructure but strong network and usage of data
  60. Wordpress Medium Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Medium is gaining rapid traction leveraging network effects and data and a simpler creation infrastructure
  61. How did a 3-year old startup like Mint beat a three-decade old software like Quicken? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  62. Quicken Mint Technology Infrastructure Network / Marketplace Data Technology Infrastructure
  63. Quicken Mint Technology Infrastructure Network / Marketplace Data Technology Infrastructure Focused only on provision of software Software as a means to build a data driven business and the creation of a marketplace between consumers and FIs
  64. Quicken Mint Technology Infrastructure Network / Marketplace Data Technology Infrastructure Mint’s business model leveraged data to subsidize software and gain rapid adoption
  65. Flickr was doing so well, what happened? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  66. Flickr Facebook Photos Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  67. Flickr Facebook Photos Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Better hosting but lower community engagement Stronger network effects and usage data of overall social network enabled better engagement
  68. Flickr Facebook Photos Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Facebook’s stronger network effects and better capture of data allowed its Photos feature to power stronger engagement
  69. What's so revolutionary about the App Store model? “ ” Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  70. MS Windows Android + Play Store Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  71. MS Windows Android + Play Store Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Focused only on infrastructure for app development Combines infrastructure with app store, enabling creation or marketplace
  72. MS Windows Android + Play Store Technology Infrastructure Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure The app store powers a new market for developers, thereby attracting a larger ecosystem much faster
  73. How did Facebook eat MySpace and build an entirely different business? Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  74. MySpace Facebook Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  75. MySpace Facebook Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Strong network effects but poor usage of data and lower curation Much stronger network effects and higher data leverage through the creation of the news feed
  76. MySpace Facebook Network / Community Technology Infrastructure Data Network / Community Data Technology Infrastructure Facebook’s news feed leverages data to drive much stronger network effects than any social network before it
  77. Different platforms have different stack configurations There are 3 basic configurations Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  78. Your turn: Analyze your platform using the platform stack Network / Marketplace / Community Data Technology Infrastructure
  79. And now, click here to get the whole book Source: PLATFORM THINKING
  80. Want to download this deck? Click here! Source: PLATFORM THINKING

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