Marshall Van Alstyne

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Leading Expert on Network Business Models; Co-author of the International Bestseller, “Platform Revolution” (2016); Winner, Thinkers50 2019 Digital Thinking Award; Professor of Management, Boston University

Biography

Marshall Van Alstyne is one of the world’s foremost experts on network business models. The Questrom Chair Professor at Boston University School of Business, he is also co-author of the international best-seller, “Platform Revolution” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2016) with Geoff Parker. Together, they won the Thinkers50 2019 Digital Thinking Award for their concepts of the inverted firm, two-sided markets, and how firms can adapt and thrive in a platform economy. Van Alstyne is also a research fellow at MIT’s Initiative for the Digital Economy, leading platform industry research studies, and he co-chairs the annual MIT Platform Strategy Summit.

Van Alstyne is a frequent speaker, board level advisor, and consultant to startups and global firms. His research has received numerous academic awards and has published in several top journals, including Science, Nature and Harvard Business Review. His co-authored article “Strategies for Two-Sided Markets” has been named by Harvard Business Review as a top 50 article of all time. Van Alstyne’s interviews appear regularly in Bloomberg, The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio, and others. Van Alstyne studied computer science at Yale and information technology at MIT. In his award-winning MIT Ph.D. thesis (1997), he invented the concept of “cyberbalkanization,” the idea that the Internet could polarize society. He holds multiple patents, was among the first to measure the dollar value of social networks, and his theories of network businesses are taught worldwide.

Marshall Van Alstyne is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Intro Video

Video ThumbnailMarshall Van Alstyne- How Network Business Models are Changing the Shape of Industry - youtube Video

A-Z Name

Van Alstyne, Marshall

Biography

Marshall Van Alstyne is one of the world’s foremost experts on network business models. The Questrom Chair Professor at Boston University School of Business, he is also co-author of the international best-seller, “Platform Revolution” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2016) with Geoff Parker. Together, they won the Thinkers50 2019 Digital Thinking Award for their concepts of the inverted firm, two-sided markets, and how firms can adapt and thrive in a platform economy. Van Alstyne is also a research fellow at MIT’s Initiative for the Digital Economy, leading platform industry research studies, and he co-chairs the annual MIT Platform Strategy Summit.

Van Alstyne is a frequent speaker, board level advisor, and consultant to startups and global firms. His research has received numerous academic awards and has published in several top journals, including Science, Nature and Harvard Business Review. His co-authored article “Strategies for Two-Sided Markets” has been named by Harvard Business Review as a top 50 article of all time. Van Alstyne’s interviews appear regularly in Bloomberg, The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio, and others. Van Alstyne studied computer science at Yale and information technology at MIT. In his award-winning MIT Ph.D. thesis (1997), he invented the concept of “cyberbalkanization,” the idea that the Internet could polarize society. He holds multiple patents, was among the first to measure the dollar value of social networks, and his theories of network businesses are taught worldwide.

Marshall Van Alstyne is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

The Platform Revolution: What’s Happening & Why

This popular keynote describes structural changes in the economy, what to do about these changes, and why platforms always beat products.

Opening Platforms: How, When & Why

One of a platform’s biggest challenges is determining what to open and what to close. Which of four different business models are better at growth through open innovation? Which are profitable? This talk provides answers.

Platform Strategy: The New Rules

Platform strategy differs fundamentally from product strategy. If you’re thinking using product strategy you are bound to get it wrong.  Barriers to entry shift instead to frictionless entry. Products have features but platforms have communities. This critical keynote gives you tools to understand why platform strategy beats product strategy every time.

Launch & Transition: From Products to Platforms

Here we tell you how to solve the chicken-or-egg problem of creating a market when you don’t yet have critical mass.  We also tell you how to convert an existing product into a platform.

Monetization: How Economics Differ

Learn different methods for making money when platforms often give things away for free. We developed some of the original math behind two-sided markets and our popular article has become a Harvard Business Review classic. This talk summarizes key ways to drive revenue.

Architecture: How to Build Platforms

Building successful platforms requires knowing what components are necessary. Where do you start? How do platforms go viral?  How do you engineer network effects? How do markets work? This speech teaches you how growth and matching are done properly.

The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy And What to Do About It

Not everything platforms do is great for society. If badly behaved, they can spread fake news, promote discrimination, and deskill work. This speech describes how platforms can avoid such problems and how regulators should intervene when necessary.

Antitrust: The Proper Regulation of Platforms

The biggest firms in the world by market cap are platforms.  They tend to dominate in winner-take-all contexts.  How does the new antitrust differ from the old and what remedies are truly appropriate for creating social value?

Governance: Platforms for Social Good

Rules for creating value, dividing value, and settling conflict matter.  What levers should a platform leader pull in order to grow and manage a healthy ecosystem?  This speech presents years of analysis of major platform firms.

Global Village or Cyberbalkans? How the Internet Can Integrate or Polarize Society

Information technology can link geographically separated people and help them locate useful resources. Paradoxically, it can also fragment interaction and divide groups from one another. Advances in tech can help people spend time on deepened special interests or explore unfamiliar contacts. As IT improves, preferences, not geography or technology, lead societies to integrate or fragment.

The Problem of Fake News

What is “fake news” and how does it cause harm? After examining key attributes and current solutions, this talk presents tradeoffs in balancing free speech and freedom from harm. It then proposes three tiers of solutions, (1) those that are legal and business model compatible, so firms should have no problem adopting them (2) those that are legal but not business model compatible, so firms need compulsion to adopt them, and (3) those that require changes to bad law. Surprisingly, there exist boundary cases when a just society is better served by a mechanism that allows lies to pass, just as there are alternate boundary cases when it should put friction on truth.

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Recommendations

Praise for “Platform Revolution”

“Thorough and often provocative.”

— Jeremy G. Philips, The Wall Street Journal

“An authoritative guide to the role of online platforms: what they are, how they work, and what they mean for business and economics. Platform Revolution demystifies the concept by providing clear prose, insightful examples, and practical lessons.”

— Hal Varian, chief economist, Google, and author of Information Rules

“Platforms have transformed the economy over the last two decades, but the biggest effects are yet to come. Platform Revolution provides the first comprehensive framework for platform strategy and for predicting the winners and losers of future disruptions.”

— Susan C. Athey, Stanford University, former chief economist, Microsoft

Platform Revolution is a manual for the disruption of your industry. You can either read it or try to keep it out of the hands of your competitors―present and future. I think it’s an easy call.”

— Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT, coauthor of The Second Machine Age

Platform Revolution provides an exceptional synthesis of cutting-edge research that makes it must-reading for my MBA students. A key insight is that platform strategies can benefit all participants when they understand the underlying economics. Read the book and share it with your business partners. You’ll be glad you did.”

— Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Sloan School, coauthor of The Second Machine Age

“In a very cohesive and comprehensive way, the authors provide deep conceptual insights and rich practical advice on platforms, the most important business organizations of our time.”

— Ming Zeng, chief strategy officer, Alibaba

“In the digital economy, platforms are transforming industries at high speed. Platform Revolution is an inspiring guide for business leaders to transform existing businesses to platform businesses.”

— Jim Hagemann-Snabe, former CEO of SAP

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