In today’s hypercompetitive environment enabled by technology, ownership of infrastructure no longer provides a defensible advantage. Instead, flexibility provides the crucial competitive edge, competition is perpetual motion, and advantage is evanescent.

—GEOFFREY G. PARKE, in Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You

Fifty years ago, the word “platform” described something you might stand on—perhaps a train platform. J. K. Rowling’s mystical platform Number 9¾ at London’s King’s Cross Station in her Harry Potter books appeared by magic. That’s no more wondrous than the new world of online platforms, which are rewriting the rules of ...

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