Platform Business Challenges

March 24, 2020

Read The Full Prompt

Digital technologies give rise to a variety of platforms. For this assignment, please pick ONE of the following two options:

1) Identify a platform firm, describe how it creates and capture value, and evaluate its scalability and sustainability.  To make it interesting, please stay away from well-known platforms such as those owned by Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft.

2) Identify a firm that tried to work with a platform (e.g., X Fire or Australian banks) or tried to become a platform (e.g., Qihoo). Describe the opportunities and challenges in its journey.


“Why Some Platforms Thrive and Others Don’t” (Links to an external site.) HBR January-February 2019
“Products to Platforms: Making the Leap” (Links to an external site.) HBR April 2016


Create an approximately 750-word post to make your contribution on  by 6 pm on March 24.

Please also respond to and comment on three other posts per assignment. Feel free to use graphics, data, videos, and links to other sites to corroborate your points.

Selected posts will be discussed in class.

Submitted (79)

Drizly: A refreshing business model in the delivery app landscape
Megan M
Posted on March 14, 2020 at 10:49 am
With food delivery becoming a commodity business, Drizly must continue to innovate to defend its direct-to-home alcohol delivery platform model
Gojek – A Motortaxi for Every Need
Bastian P
Posted on March 15, 2020 at 6:24 pm
A deep-dive on Gojek, Indonesia's first unicorn, an app matching motorbikes with commuters, delivery services and service providers.
Zencare: Modernizing the search for mental health care
Matt B
Last modified on March 17, 2020 at 9:17 pm
Zencare is a digital platform that helps match people with high-quality, vetted mental health professionals.
The Beaver that Brings On-Demand Beauty Services to Your Home
Jack Q Ma
Last modified on March 21, 2020 at 12:01 am
Can "personal business" such as manicures and haircuts be "Uberized?"
Instacart – A Platform Thriving in a Pandemic
Posted on March 22, 2020 at 1:35 pm
With quarantines and social distancing happening around the world, grocery delivery has gone from a nice to have to a necessity.
Boatsetter: Democratizing The Sailing Experience
Leonardo Hugo Lujan
Last modified on March 31, 2020 at 12:05 pm
Defined as the 'Airbnb of yachts', Boatsetter gets rid of the boat ownership barrier and offers a reliable and seamless way to enjoy a unique day out.
ASOS: Your one-stop shop for all things fashion
Jane Doe
Posted on March 14, 2020 at 4:50 pm
ASOS, the UK-based fashion platform, is a two-sided platform that connects shoppers to third-party vendors as well as their private label.
WeddingWire: with you till you say I do!
Posted on March 22, 2020 at 4:18 am
WeddingWire is a platform that connects engaged couples with wedding vendors to help them plan their wedding and streamline the process as much as possible. It was founded in 2007 by Timothy Chi who was frustrated by the complexity and [...]
CarGurus: Building the world’s most trusted and transparent automotive marketplace
Andres Perez
Posted on March 21, 2020 at 1:56 pm
CarGurus, a leading online automotive marketplace, has grown significantly in the last years. Why the company has grown so fast? Is that growth sustainable? In this post it will be analyzed how the company creates value, how the company has [...]
Zoom: Prepared for a Pandemic
Joe Tung
Posted on March 24, 2020 at 2:36 am
Zoom has created and captured tremendous value by leveraging network effects. Will this last after the pandemic?
ZUBALE – Revolutionizing retail execution in LatAm
James Eckfeldt
Posted on March 16, 2020 at 3:25 pm
Founded in 2018 by two HBS grads, Zubale is the leading platform crowdsourcing on-the-ground people for retailers to address retail execution tasks. How sustainable and scalable is their platform?
Coursera: The Edtech platform that could disrupt Higher Education
Last modified on March 23, 2020 at 10:03 pm
Coursera continues to develop it's MOOC platform with over 48 Million learners and 200 partners.
Turo: the Airbnb for Cars
Walter Mitty
Posted on March 24, 2020 at 1:26 am
Turo is a two-sided platform, a peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace, that enables users to rent their cars out to others.
OpenTable: Restaurant Reservations Made-Easy
Last modified on March 23, 2020 at 5:39 pm
OpenTable is the market leader in online restaurant reservations. The company has made several strategic decisions to grow its two-sided platforms and has benefited from strong cross-sided network effects. Yet, in a perceived winner-take-most market, OpenTable should continue growing and [...]
Upwork: In Demand Talent On Demand
A Iglehart
Posted on March 19, 2020 at 9:17 pm
Upwork connects freelancers and agencies to businesses looking for high quality, specialized talent.
Meituan-Dianping: Amazon of Services
Posted on March 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm
China's e-commerce platform for services connecting consumers and merchants.
Blackbuck – Hauling the future
Posted on March 22, 2020 at 12:03 am
Blackbuck is attempting to solve the inefficiencies in the Indian surface transport sector through a marketplace and technology-enabled services. Its impressive growth and recent funding have attracted various competitors – including one that questions the logistics platform business model itself.
Zocdoc: The Yelp for Medicine?
Jesse Bendit
Posted on March 24, 2020 at 3:05 pm
The Zocdoc platform has helped to increase transparency and ease accessibility within the healthcare industry, a space that lags behind most other industries in those areas. In doing so, Zocdoc has opportunities to further expand its offering to continue to [...]
Etsy: Success from Serving a Niche Market – But for How Much Longer?
Cherish Weiler
Posted on March 24, 2020 at 5:11 pm
Etsy has come to dominate the handcrafted and vintage goods market by focusing on a niche market, leveraging network effects, prioritizing technological investments to win on ease of use. But after over 10 years of growth, how sustainable is the [...]
ClassPass: Uncertain future for boutique fitness platform 

Last modified on March 22, 2020 at 10:31 pm
ClassPass’s two-sided platform connecting fitness studios and gym-goers operates in an environment of unfavorable network properties
Everything is teachable – Platform play in education
Marius Westhoff
Last modified on March 24, 2020 at 8:57 am
A closer look at the Airbnb of education
GrubHub: Slimy or Satisfying?
Jon Snow
Posted on March 24, 2020 at 6:35 pm
GrubHub has scaled profitably and brought together restaurants, hungry people, and drivers, but can they sustain their business amidst rampant competition?
How Groupon failed Ali Wong, but Netflix saved her
Posted on March 22, 2020 at 5:51 pm
The comedian Ali Wong is an example of the damage Groupon can have as a platform to the business of start-up entertainment, but also shows the marketing prowess of Netflix in this respect.
Alphasights: Purveyors of Knowledge
Posted on March 24, 2020 at 7:29 pm
 “No [person’s] knowledge here can go beyond his experience” – John Locke The maxim that knowledge is power is heard so often that its fundamental truth may be obscured with repetition. Nonetheless, knowledge is the indispensable currency that makes the [...]
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