True Platform

I love this so much:

Semil Shah: Do you see any similarities from your time at Facebook with Facebook platform and connect, and how Uber may supercharge their platform?

Chamath: Neither of them are platforms. They’re both kind of like these comical endeavors that do you as an Nth priority. I was in charge of Facebook Platform. We trumpeted it out like it was some hot shit big deal. And I remember when we raised money from Bill Gates, 3 or 4 months after — like our funding history was $5M, $83 M, $500M, and then $15B. When that 15B happened a few months after Facebook Platform and Gates said something along the lines of, “That’s a crock of shit. This isn’t a platform. A platform is when the economic value of everybody that uses it, exceeds the value of the company that creates it. Then it’s a platform.”

I’ve been meditating on this for the past week:

A platform is when the economic value of everybody that uses it exceeds the value of the company that creates it. Then it’s a platform.

There are a lot of companies that say they have a “platform” but that’s just marketing-speak and fundraising bullshit. When you look at a lot of these technology companies through the lens of Gates’ perspective, there are very few real platforms.

Shamelessly, I feel like my brother and I are actually putting together a realbonafide platform, one that raises the economic value of everyone who participates. In fact, the value that our users will get from using something like Yen should greatly dwarf any real value that our product and company is worth.

And that’s a good thing.

Making money for your customers is the real benefit, the real value, the real mission and goal. It also is deeply satisfying. I had an opportunity to do this in principle in one of my previous companies where we taught folks to become full-time software developers.

I believe that, in aggregate, the total value of all of the students that graduated grossly exceeds the value of the company itself. In fact, I know that to be true already.

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