Platform Thinking Roundup: The best articles of 2013

| December 28, 2013 | 6 Comments

2013 started with JP Rangaswami declaring it the year of platforms. It’s ending with a piece I wrote for WIRED titled “Platforms are eating the world”. A lot has happened in between. We saw the proverbial final nails in the coffin of an industry that has been tellingly transformed by platform business models with Nokia and Blackberry losing 90%+ market share since their heydays. Twitter managed a decent IPO, messaging apps were the rage and connectivity-based business models continued to thrive. Drones and robots aside, Amazon and Google continue to grow stronger in platform plays. Uber, Airbnb and the sharing economy continue to grow, the sporadic regulatory issues notwithstanding.


Great year! I thought I’d round up the top 10 posts that I wrote this year. If you started following the blog midway through the year, this is a great list to dig into some of the best content here. The list has been chosen based on a mix of:

1) Social proof (No. of shares),

2) Impact (No. of emails coming in thanking me for the article or referring to how the ideas were being implemented) and

3) Editorial discretion (Articles that I felt best showcased my thinking)


Here’s the list:


Platforms are eating the world

This article summarizes several important shifts happening in the world today. It explores patterns in traditional industries that are waiting to be disrupted and new business opportunities that will arise with that disruption.

Also featured on: WSJ (Marketwatch), WIRED


Why Business Models Fail

This article, featured in WIRED, lays the basic premise for Platform Thinking. Essentially, the world no longer works the way it used to. Linear business models are being replaced by networked ones. Users aren’t just consumers anymore, they are also producers. And business now involves simultaneously balancing incentives for multiple parties.

Also featured on: WIRED


The Network Effect Playbook

The way we build social networks has changed from a connection-first to a content-first model, and this article explains the implications of this change for makers. I wrote this specifically for Andrew Chen’s blog as much of the thinking here built off some of Andrew’s ideas about social products.


How to disrupt Craigslist

This article looks at the vertical competition that Craigslist is facing. Many marketplace startups inevitably compete with Craigslist and this article expounds on strengths and weaknesses of Craigslist’s business and how to use them to your advantage.

Also featured on: All Things Digital, The Next Web


A framework to understand platform businesses

This article introduces a three-layer framework to think about platforms, that I intend to discuss further in the coming year. It lays out the basic goals and functions of a platform business model.

Also featured on: Harvard Business Review


The Future of Work

I believe that work is gradually shifting from employees to algorithms to users in this connected revolution, much like work shifted from labor to machines in the industrial revolution. This article explains this shift.

Also featured on: Medium Editor’s Picks


How Airbnb, YouTube and Wikipedia changed the way business works

This article explains how three startups re-engineered the supply chain for their respective industries and transformed consumer behavior.

Also featured on: Hacker News #1, The Next Web, Medium Editor’s Picks


Reverse Network Effects

Networks lose value as they grow. This is counter-intuitive to the idea of network effects. This article explains why reverse networks set in at scale.

Also featured on: Medium Editor’s Picks


Metrics for Marketplaces

This article focuses on three key metrics that marketplaces need to track: Liquidity, Quality and Trust.

Also featured on: The Next Web, Medium Editor’s Picks


And finally, you should have a look at this lecture on Platform Thinking at the MIT Media Labs this summer:

Image Credits: Flickr/CreativeCommons

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  • Melvin Jose

    your eBook is thought provoking on this subject m/ loved the example of the ‘Trap store’!; this is truly platform thinking & i could draw parallels to Remax, Los Grobo, Interfacé…superb m/

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  • Craig Michael

    Great article Sangeet! Happy New Year!

  • Jim Preston

    Thanks Sangeet! I don’t know if you are into the western New Year but happy New Year if you are. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to launch several platforms in 2014.

  • Sangeet Paul Choudary

    Thank Jeff! And thanks for the conversation all through. I’ve really loved discussing this with you. I intend to have some very interesting content out in the first few months of 2014.

  • Jeff Nailen

    Thanks for the round-up Sangeet, great year-end reading. Looking forward to an interesting 2014.