As internet startups, we often believe that we are in the business of building technology. This guide sets out to debunk that view.

Several monikers and catch-phrases have been used to characterize trends in recent times. Web2.0, Crowdsourcing, Collaborative Consumption, Sharing Economy, App Economy, Gamification are some of the terms that come to mind. Observed closely, there are three common threads that underlie all of these trends:

1) The focus on the user as someone who does work

2) The notion of value created in an external ecosystem of users

3) The idea that this value is created when users interact as producers and consumers

These factors underlie the importance of platform business models in business today. And internet startups are leading the way.

Very briefly, platform business models enable creation and exchange of value between users, with the firm (startup) acting as an infrastructure enabling users to interact.

Wikipedia enables creators to create a knowledge base and consumers to consume that information.

Airbnb enables hosts and travelers to interact and engage in commerce.

Instagram enables photo creators to show off and discuss their creations with photo viewers.

These are all examples of platform business models connecting producer and consumer roles and allowing them to interact with each other.

The essays in this guide aim at explaining the importance of these models, why these models are emerging at this point in time and why they will be the dominant model for business in a networked world.

Welcome to the platformed world! Here's your guide and I hope you enjoy the view!

- Sangeet Paul Choudary