The Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms

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9781633691728: The Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms
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Many of the most dynamic public companies, from Alibaba to Facebook to Visa, and the most valuable start-ups, such as Airbnb and Uber, are matchmakers that connect one group of customers with another group of customers. Economists call matchmakers multisided platforms because they provide physical or virtual platforms for multiple groups to get together. Dating sites connect people with potential matches, for example, and ride-sharing apps do the same for drivers and riders. Although matchmakers have been around for millennia, they’re becoming more and more popular—and profitable—due to dramatic advances in technology, and a lot of companies that have managed to crack the code of this business model have become today’s power brokers.

Don’t let the flashy successes fool you, though. Starting a matchmaker is one of the toughest business challenges, and almost everyone who tries to build one, fails.

In Matchmakers, David Evans and Richard Schmalensee, two economists who were among the first to analyze multisided platforms and discover their principles, and who’ve consulted for some of the most successful platform businesses in the world, explain how matchmakers work best in practice, why they do what they do, and how entrepreneurs can improve their chances for success.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an investor, a consumer, or an executive, your future will involve more and more multisided platforms, and Matchmakers—rich with stories from platform winners and losers—is the one book you’ll need in order to navigate this appealing but confusing world.

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ADVANCE PRAISE for Matchmakers:

Reed Hastings, founder and CEO, Netflix—
Matchmakers sheds light on some of the most important businesses driving the global economy. A great read for anyone who wants to better understand how the companies behind the products and services they use every day work.”

Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal—
Matchmakers is an insider’s look at one of the critical business models of our era—one that only looks easy because the drivers around successful multi- and two-sided networks are anything but self-evident. It’s an entertaining read, yet filled with the insights essential for anyone interested in starting or scaling these complex yet powerful businesses.”

Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University; former US Secretary of the Treasury—
“More than the Internet, the sharing economy or automation platform companies and matchmaking markets are defining the new economy. Evans and Schmalensee are pioneers in developing economic theories that explain this new economy. Here they share what they’ve learned to the great benefit not just of economists, but also of entrepreneurs, policy makers, and consumers.”

Hikmet Ersek, President and CEO, Western Union—
“Entirely new business models have evolved around the platform, connecting supply and demand, service provider and customer, sender and receiver. Matchmakers captures this phenomenon—the platform ecosystem—in a way that makes this book compelling reading for anyone seeking to understand the role that platforms play in today’s economy.”

Jean Tirole, Chairman, Toulouse School of Economics; Winner, 2014 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences—
“David Evans and Richard Schmalensee are masters at combining strategic analysis and economic theory. Matchmakers is a journey through the strategies of platform businesses, which are central to our economies. Full of stories, fun to read, stimulating, and rigorous, this terrific book is required reading, from the economics and MBA student to the entrepreneur looking at building a platform to any reader curious about how our economy evolves.”

Bob Solomon, former Senior Vice President, Network and Financial Solutions, Ariba, Inc.—
Matchmakers will be mandatory for anyone building or investing in multisided platforms—in the cloud or on the ground. It’s not only full of great stories like the rise of M-PESA, it’s also a practical guide to getting your platform business off the ground. If the people behind Apple Pay had this book to read, maybe they would have started differently.”

Gary Katz, President and CEO, International Securities Exchange—
“This book provided me, as a cofounder of the International Securities Exchange, with a different lens through which to view my business and industry. This framework would have been a valuable addition to my playbook as my colleagues and I grappled with questions of pricing and building critical mass when we were planning the launch, eighteen years ago, of the first all-electronic options exchange in the United States.”

Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairman and CEO, Business Wire—
“The ‘matchmaker’ is one of the oldest business models, but it’s ever more important in today’s interconnected, networked world. This deep dive into today’s multisided businesses provides a clear, compelling, and entertaining road map for how net platform businesses can blast off and ignite. Bravo!”
Praise for Catalyst Code:

Bill Gates—
“. . . an important book for anyone interested in understanding how breakthrough businesses can be built in today’s economy.”

Patrick McGovern, founder and former Chairman, International Data Group—
Catalyst Code shows that in the Internet Age, the greatest business successes will be based on creating communities in which buyers and sellers are brought together efficiently, rather than making a new product or providing a new service.”

Peter S. Lynch, Vice Chairman, Fidelity Management & Research Company—
“Evans and Schmalensee reveal the inner workings of what is rapidly becoming a new model for businesses.”

About the Author:

David S. Evans is an economist, business adviser, and entrepreneur. He has done pioneering research into the new economics of multisided platforms. He has also consulted for many of the largest multisided platform businesses in the world and served as an adviser to a number of start-up matchmakers. He has co-founded four companies. David also holds academic positions at the University of Chicago Law School and the University College London.

Richard Schmalensee is the Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management and Economics, Emeritus, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as the dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management for nine years and as a Member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Dick he is one of the world’s leading scholars on the economics of industrial organization and has done pioneering research on the new economics of multisided platforms.

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