On eBay and Platforms

The company's head honcho seems to understand their importance.

Estimated reading: 1 min


Charlie Rose conducted an interesting interview with eBay CEO John Donahoe last night. Donahoe clearly understands the importance of platforms, and his honesty about missing key trends like social media is nothing if not refreshing. What’s more, admitting that Skype didn’t work—and explaining why—is not something I would expect from someone in his position.

In The Age of the Platform, I clearly draw a line between eBay and the rest of the Gang of Four and I stand by it. There’s nothing wrong with eBay, but it doesn’t have the same cache, the same impact as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

There’s nothing wrong with eBay, but it’s certainly no Amazon, Apple, Facebook, or Google.

Of course, that can change. I’m not betting on eBay to overtake Amazon, Apple, Facebook, or Google anytime soon, but Donahoe clearly gets it. It turns out that eBay does think of itself as a platform of sorts, especially with retailers.

Simon Says

On a broader level, nearly 18 months since the book has been published, it’s clear to me that it captured a critical business trend. Donahoe’s interview merely confirms what I saw two years ago while writing the book: most tech companies are thinking of themselves as platforms of one sort or another—or at least trying to get there.


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