Why Some Platforms Thrive … and Others Don’t

by Feng Zhu and Marco Iansiti

IN 2016, DIDI BECAME THE WORLD’S LARGEST ride-sharing company, reaching 25 million trips a day in China and surpassing the combined daily trips of all other ride-sharing companies across the globe. It had arrived at this milestone by merging in 2015 with its domestic rival, Kuaidi, and pushing Uber out of the Chinese market after a fierce, expensive battle. With its competition gutted, Didi gradually began to improve its margins by reducing subsidies to drivers and passengers.

But just as the company began to reach profitability, in early 2018, Meituan, a giant player in online-to-offline services such as food delivery, movie ticketing, and travel booking, launched its ...

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