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Platform Revolution Interview with Marshall Van Alstyne

How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You, Your Career, and Your Company

professor of Information Economics at Boston University and member of the MIT Initiative for the Digital Economy - TotalPicture interviewMarshall W. Van Alstyne

Uber. Airbnb. Amazon. Monster. All of these companies disrupted their markets when they launched. Today they are industry leaders. What's the secret to their success? These cutting-edge businesses are built on platforms: two-sided markets that are revolutionizing the way we do business.

Joining Peter Clayton and David Dalka for a special Innovation Channel podcast to discuss the Platform Revolution is Marshall W. Van Alstyne, professor of Information Economics at Boston University and member of the MIT Initiative for the Digital Economy. He has made fundamental contributions to the theory of "two-sided" networks and IT productivity. In addition, he holds patents in information processing theory and in spam prevention mechanisms. Marshall is the coauthor of an important new book, Platform Revolution - How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You, recently published by Norton.

Marshall and his coauthors, Geoffrey G. Parker and Sangeet Paul Choudary, reveal the what, how, and why of this revolution and provide the first "owner's manual" for creating a successful platform business.

Platform Revolution teaches newcomers how to start and run a successful platform business, explaining ways to identify prime markets and monetize networks. Addressing current business leaders, the authors reveal strategies behind some of today's up-and-coming platforms, such as Tinder and SkillShare, and explain how traditional companies can adapt in a changing marketplace. The authors also cover essential issues concerning security, regulation, and consumer trust, while examining markets that may be ripe for a platform revolution, including healthcare, education, and energy.

As digital networks increase in ubiquity, businesses that do a better job of harnessing the power of the platform will win. An indispensable guide, Platform Revolution charts out the brilliant future of platforms and reveals how they will irrevocably alter the lives and careers of millions.

Questions Peter and David ask Marshall:

Peter: Marshall it seems to me one of the earliest examples of the platform phenomenon are the job boards like Monster that came online in the mid 90's and completely disrupted the newspaper display advertising business.

Peter: And of course, fast-forward to today and LinkedIn, which is basically a realtime talent directory has upended the HR and recruiting industry

Peter: So to back up for a minute when did the platform model really take off?

David: What are opportunity costs, realized and unrealized to consumers of these platforms?

David: What do traditional businesses need to do to compete in

this environment?

Peter: Back to my intro - many of these new players like Airbnb and Uber are not without controversy - taxi drivers striking in Paris, demonstrating in New York, landlords and politicians freaking out over Airbnb everywhere - the speed of this disintermediation is amazing.

Peter: It seems that overnight, Netflix and Amazon have become award-winning TV studios - do you see these platforms doing to traditional television networks what has happened to the newspaper industry over the next few years?

David: Southwest Airlines is notable in that it does not participate in third party travel platforms. As they are one of the more successful airlines, what wisdom should be gleaned from their different strategy?

David: You state that platforms invert the firm and create a need for an external focus. Yet there are many platforms where this does not occur fully. Could you elaborate on your thoughts in this area?


David Dalka is a CEO advisor and keynote speaker at Fearless Revival.

Peter: 15 years ago, Dan Pink published a book called Free Agent Nation, and today platforms like Upwork are making the gig economy and freelance work more feasible the ever. So how do you see platforms impacting traditional employment?

Peter: Developing talent pipelines has become a key component in recruiting - you describe traditional business as pipeline businesses - how are pipelines different?

David: What about the sectors of the economy where the transactions are not linear (hiring, high end services, etc), can platforms create more harm than good in that environment?

Peter: Please discuss the impact of Twitter hosting NFL Football games

Peter: Facebook and Yahoo! Fast moving and agile vs slow and pondering

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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