Business Models

This page collects links to blog posts, articles and books about key factors for success with different startup business models. 

Companion pages listed at right and in this blog's nav bar compile readings on other topics relevant to startup management.

Business Model Design: General Issues
Network Effects
Platform Strategies
  • The book Platform Revolution, by Parker, Van Alstyne and Choudary, examines platform economics and strategies, as does Choudary's book Platform Scale; the book Matchmakers, by Evans and Schmalensee, covers similar topics, as does their book, The Catalyst Code.
  • I've written about conditions under which rivals should share a new platform
  • With Parker and Van Alstyne, I've studied when firms should open mature platforms and when they are vulnerable to platform envelopment, which entails one platform displacing another by leveraging bundling strategies
  • Sangeet Choudary discusses how to manage startup growth strategies that piggyback upon an existing dominant platform, used by AirBnB, PayPal, etc. 
  • Mark Suster gives advice for startups with applications that face a substitution threat from in-house versions developed by big platforms
  • Entrepreneur/investor Sim Simeonov expands upon the risk of platform dependency
Freemium Models
Online Marketplace Models
  • Jeremy Levin and Rafi Syed of Bessemer explain why "end-to-end" marketplaces that facilitate complete transactions (e.g., Airbnb) are displacing those that only provide listings (e.g., Craigslist).
  • A white paper by VersionOne VC provides a comprehensive description of online marketplaces: types, key factors for success, metrics, etc.
  • Willy Braun of the VC daphni describes metrics for marketplaces
  • Tristan Pollock on mistakes made by marketplace startups; Josh Breinlinger of Jackson Square Ventures on the same topic
  • Aaron Epstein on tactics for mobilizing marketplace users
  • a16z GP/former OpenTable CEO Jeff Jordan discusses challenges confronting tech companies with a local focus and how successful "local heroes" manage to scale rapidly
  • Kleiner Perkins EiR and former senior Google and eBay exec Stephanie Tilenius looks at key factors for success with curated consumer marketplaces such as Uber and RelayRides
  • Author Sangeet Choudary also analyzes network mobilization challenges for services marketplaces, with focus on professional services.
  • MuckerLab's William Hsu looks at how marketplaces create and capture value
  • Julia Hanna explains my colleague Andrei Hagiu's research on the difference between multi-sided platforms and traditional retailers.
  • Bill Gurley of Benchmark, David Beisel of NextView Ventures, and Seth Rothman of Greylock on key factors for success in building online marketplaces.
SaaS Models
Enterprise Software Models
Ecommerce Models

On-Demand Models

  • Semil Shah on challenges confronting startups that provide on-demand services
Hardware Models
  • a16z GP and serial entrepreneur Chris Dixon discusses challenges/opportunities with tech hardware startups
  • Ben Einstein of Bolt addresses misperceptions about challenges with hardware startups

Flawed Business Models