Aggregators vs. Platforms

Semil: One follow up on that, 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 around literally 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.”

Transcript: @Chamath At StrictlyVC’s Insider Series (cache)

Cristal clear definition from… Bill Gates. Let’s stop calling platforms these funnels filling up ourselves like geese without redistributing any economic value whatsoever.

The broader takeaway is that distinguishing between platforms and aggregators isn’t simply an academic exercise: it should affect how companies think about their competitive environment vis-à-vis the biggest companies in tech, and, just as importantly, it should weigh heavily on regulators. The Microsoft antitrust battles of the 2000s were in many respects about enforcing interoperability as a way of breaking into the Microsoft platform; today antitrust should be far more concerned about aggregators capturing everything they touch by virtue of their control of end users.

The Bill Gates Line (cache)

It should affect how people think about their future too, that political issue belongs to citizens as well as their representatives.

A funnel — even smart — becomes useless without geese on his end. Especially when they are actually on both ends!