Friday, January 4, 2019

Modern Monopolies

Thanks to the reach of the internet, platform companies are everywhere nowadays. These are companies with monopolistic characteristics thanks to their network effects (e.g. Uber, Google Search, iOS, Facebook etc.). Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate the 21st Century Economy is all about discussing how to build them, what to avoid, and how to think about them.

The case studies where they drilled down into the early days of many of these companies was pretty neat. I had no idea, for example, that Airbnb used to have a bot that e-mailed posters on Craigslist to build up their inventory.

Sometimes the book did feel like an ad for the authors' consulting company, however. There also seemed to be some extra narratives where they weren't always warranted; a halo effect after the fact makes it easy to say one thing led to success while another led to failure, but I doubted sometimes that things could be boiled down to something so simple.

Still, platform companies can have large moats, and so they are worth thinking about for investors. This is a decent book on the topic.

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