Learn More About Marshall Van Alstyne
Marshall Van Alstyne – professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business and Digital Fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy – is a leading authority on platform businesses and how they are transforming the future. Uber. Airbnb. Amazon. Apple. Google. PayPal. Alibaba. These seemingly disparate, cutting-edge companies upended entire industries by harnessing a single phenomenon: platforms.
Van Alstyne’s current focus, in the classroom and in the boardroom, centers on scaling his insights and knowledge to help organizations navigate, adapt and thrive in the platform economy. Platforms beat products every time and he believes platforms are just beginning to revolutionize a range of economic and social arenas, from B2B to B2C, and from health care and finance to energy and government. His research shows that, on average, a $2 billion firm can gain about 4% market cap in roughly six months after becoming a platform company.
“It’s no overstatement to say that the platform business model is one of the most important economic and social developments of our time,” Van Alstyne explains. “Structural change in the Internet era is as significant as the Industrial Revolution was a century ago. But surprisingly, many people, even savvy business executives, remain unaware of how this is happening or what to do about it.”
In 2016, Van Alstyne co-authored with Geoff Parker the international bestselling book “Platform Revolution” (W.W. Norton & Co.), the first authoritative, fact-based guide to understanding and navigating platform models. Together, they developed the concept of two-sided markets, which is used extensively in platform business models. They also developed the concept of inverted firms, whereby value creation moves from inside to outside the organization. Their work was recognized by Thinkers50 in 2021 when they were named among the top 50 management thinkers in the world and in 2019 when they won the Digital Thinking Award. They also won the Antitrust Writing Award for best academic article in 2021.
Van Alstyne is regularly interviewed by Bloomberg, The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and others. In uniquely conversational presentations and interactive workshops, Van Alstyne continues to help leaders understand and spot new opportunities in the platform economy.
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Marshall Van Alstyne is an information economist and expert on IT economics and strategy. He’s made fundamental contributions to IT productivity and theories on network effects. His co-authored work on two-sided networks – “Strategies for Two-Sided Markets” – is a Harvard Business Review top 50 of all time and taught in business schools worldwide. His “Pipelines, Platforms and New Rules of Strategy” is a Harvard Business Review “must read” for anyone interested in strategy and innovation.
A frequently cited and award-winning academic, Van Alstyne (along with co-author Geoff Parker) was a 2021 co-recipient of the Anti-Trust Writing Awards. He holds multiple patents on privacy protection and spam prevention methods and he was among the first to measure the dollar value of social networks. Van Alstyne, with Parker, co-founded the MIT Platform Summit and Boston University Symposium, which they have co-chaired since 2013. In 2020, Van Alstyne received the Inaugural Practical Impacts Award from the Information Systems Society of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.
Van Alstyne received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Yale University, and both his master’s and doctorate in Information Systems Economics from MIT.
Marshall Van Alstyne is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Platform Strategy: Generate Significant Value and Outpace Competitors with a 21st Century Operating Model
Platform-enabled firms such as Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and SalesForce are wildly successful because they operate as ecosystems that create value by leveraging network effects and third-party users.
“Platforms are economically important and widely observed in modern economies,” explains says renowned digital economist Marshall Van Alstyne, Professor of Information Economics at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, Digital Fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and co-author of the international bestseller “Platform Revolution.” “In creating strategies for platform markets, however, many leaders make the mistake of relying on assumptions and paradigms that apply to businesses without network effects. As a result, they make decisions around pricing, supply chains, product design, and strategy that are not appropriate for the economics of their changing industries. Part of my work involves teaching them how to avoid those costly mistakes.”
As an advisor to CTOs, CIOs, CSOs, CEOs, and CMOs, Van Alstyne teaches leaders how their organizations can generate significant value and better compete in the digital marketplace by adopting a platform model. In the process, he shares examples of how leading companies were able to solve problems and markedly scale business by transitioning to a platform model. During virtual or in-person advisory meetings or executive education workshops, which can be customized to meet the needs of your organization, Van Alstyne can cover any or all of the following topics:
- Platforms and Ecosystems
- Business Model Innovation
- The Inverted Firm: How Demand-side Economies of Scale Have Replaced Supply-side
- Mergers & Acquisitions in Network Marketplaces
- Measuring Customer Lifetime Value
- Leveraging Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
- Implicit Versus Explicit Network Effects
- Harnessing the Marketing Power of External Communities
- Using APIs to Create More Value
- Valuation of Information, Data & Digital Twins
- Input Suppliers, Markets, and True Platforms
- Competing in Winner-takes-all Markets
- One-sided Versus Two-sided Networks
- The Context of Multi-homing
- Traditional Platform Pricing Models Including Freemium, Bundled, and Two-sided Pricing
- Barriers Firms Face in Transitioning to a Platform Model
- Strategies for Launching New Platforms and the Process of Making Markets
- Recovery Strategies in Declining Platform Markets
- Timing in the Cannibalization of an Old Platform by a New One
- Data Analytics Tools for Recommender Systems and Matchmaking
- Anti-trust Implications of Platform Strategies and Safe Harbor Defenses