PRODUCTHEAD: Will platforms conquer the world?

PRODUCTHEAD: Will platforms conquer the world?

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.



In solving their own internal scaling problem, Amazon inadvertently created the building blocks for the AWS platform

Stripe’s founders didn’t shy away from tackling an unattractively difficult problem

Platforms connect different sides of a market, even if they have dramatically different needs and capabilities

Twilio’s founder prioritised the developers who’d implement his API, not the managers who’d pay for it

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I recently participated in a lively panel discussion for, which posed the question “Will platforms conquer the world?” (I’ll post up the video when it’s available.)

My view? They already have.

Almost every aspect of our lives relies on some kind of software platform, whether it’s the apps on our smartphone, the online marketplaces we buy from, the payments we make, the comments we post on social media, or the television shows and movies we stream.

Even the cars we drive are increasingly built upon hardware platforms shared across marques, such as Hyundai’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), so that its various automotive marques — Hyundai, Kia and Genesis — don’t have to reinvent the wheel (pun totally intended).

In preparation for a longer article I’ll publish soon on I Manage Products about the challenges of taking a platform to market, I thought I’d share with you a few of the stories behind some of the more dominant platforms we currently use. Don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to read it.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

How AWS came to be

What you may not know is that the roots for the idea of AWS go back to the 2000 timeframe when Amazon was a far different company than it is today — simply an e-commerce company struggling with scale problems. Those issues forced the company to build some solid internal systems to deal with the hyper growth it was experiencing — and that laid the foundation for what would become AWS.

A struggle with internal scaling

[Ron Miller / TechCrunch]

The untold story of Stripe, the secretive $20bn startup driving Apple, Amazon and Facebook

Patrick and John Collison have democratised online payments – and reshaped the digital economy in the process.

402 Payment Required

[Stephen Armstrong / WIRED]

Stripe: platform of platforms

A Rocket Rides pilot doesn’t have the wherewithal to open a business bank account at Goldman Sachs, and Goldman Sachs doesn’t have the flexibility to offer a banking account to individual entrepreneurs. This, though, is the exact sort of problem platforms solve: they provide an abstraction layer that connects different sides of a market, even if those different sides have dramatically different needs and capabilities.

The power of platforms

[Ben Thompson / Stratechery]

The insider story of Twilio

“The dirty secret of every startup ever is that when you look at companies with these big, world-changing missions … those are usually retroactively put in place.”

Jeff Lawson took Twilio from an idea that no one had a name for, to an IPO, and now a $63 Billion market cap company. His words echo my experience at Trulia — the story you hear about iconic companies is rarely what actually happened.

This is the insider story of Twilio.

Summary article / Full podcast episode

[Pete Flint / NfX]

recent posts

An exercise in stakeholder alignment

When your stakeholders each have their own interpretations of the product strategy, this lack of stakeholder alignment will cause you no end of problems. Here’s what you can do about it.

A practical exercise you can run

[I Manage Products]

The 4 unintended side-effects of risk aversion and what to do about them

When we become more worried about risk, four unintended things also tend to happen: bottlenecking, erosion of trust, ossification of process, and a risk appetite that tends towards zero. Here’s what you can do about them.

It’s all about the safety net

[I Manage Products]

The agency trap

How can product management fit into an agency business model when requirements or specifications are often contractually set in stone by the client up-front? Spoiler alert: not easily

Product company or agency?

[I Manage Products]

can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.

PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from wet, green wood.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a freelance head of product, product management coach and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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