Taking the Plunge

To state the obvious, I am finally doing a blog.  I’ve wanted to do it for a long time but have held off for fear that the intervals between posts would be measured in geologic time.  Microsoft’s guidance on blogging is “don’t be stupid” but says nothing about frequency.  Hopefully the pressure of having leapt off the cliff will keep me from embarrassing myself too much.  

 

I focus on “the platform” in my day job at Microsoft (which, needless to say, gives me some leeway…).  As you might guess from the goofy domain name, I have some kind of a perverse interest in the economics of platforms (or it may be the agronomics, ergonomics or Freakonomics of platforms – you’ll have to wait and see how it develops). 

                     

Lots of people talk about platforms.  Politicians have their platforms (which in turn have parallels in the technology world), as does an offshoot of the tennis world.  Every tech company likes to tout their “platform”.  You can’t talk to Microsoft about anything without the word being thrown around with impunity.  There is some academic literature on platforms from the likes of Michael Cusumano and Marco Iansiti.  There are marketing perspectives.  But most platform efforts don’t get beyond the technology.  The magic happens when you manage to build and sustain an ecosystem around your platform.  When it works, there is no more powerful model. 

 

What is interesting about platforms today is that we’re moving from a world where providers of technology were the primary platform players to one where you could argue every company is becoming a platform company.  And software is a critical ingredient for most of them….