The Age of the Platform

How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business

The Gang of Four

Over the last five to seven years, four companies have ascended to absolutely astounding heights. They are Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, aka The Gang of Four. Yes, these companies excel via their superior use of technology. They have built incredible ecosystems. They’ve embraced partnerships and external innovation.

Beyond all of this, The Gang of Four has embraced an entirely new way of doing business: the platform.

Platforms and Planks

A platform is simply a set of integrated planks. The most powerful platforms today have two things in common

  • They are rooted in equally powerful technologies—and their intelligent usage. In other words, they differ from traditional platforms in that they are not predicated on physical assets, land, and natural resources. 
  • They benefit tremendously from vibrant ecosystems (read: partners, developers, users, customers, and communities).

While platforms inhere a great deal of potential commercial appeal and applications, they do not exist simply as a means for companies to hawk their wares. At their core, platforms today are primarily about consumer utility and communications. Finally, because consumer tastes change much faster than business’ tastes, platforms today must adapt very quickly—or face obsolescence.


In the 1990s, platforms and ecosystems were not nearly as powerful, robust, and vibrant as they are today:

As I demonstrate in the book, it’s these connections between and among platforms and planks that allow Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to:

  • Innovate so quickly–and profoundly
  • Rapidly deploy new features
  • Create and dominate new markets

Welcome to the Age of the Platform.

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