E-commerce has been profoundly disrupted over the last decade by the increased adoption of platform-based business models. As an illustration, the five largest companies in the world by market capitalization today are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, which have all adopted, either from the start or later on, a platform-based business model. Platforms can be defined as entities that enable interactions among users and generate value from these interactions. In contrast with traditional firms (also called ‘pipelines’), which create value in a linear way using their own staff and assets, platforms create value in a more circular way by facilitating the interaction between different groups of external and independent participants. Not only do platforms represent a large share of the global economy, but they also pervade our everyday lives. So far, however, the existing literature in management has failed to provide both professionals and students with appropriate tools to understand, in a thorough and scientifically sound way, the business models that may make those platforms successful. This course aims at filling the gap by providing students with a set of practical tools that will allow them to design strategies adapted to the specificities of platforms.

Aims and objectives. At the end of the course, students should be able to (i) master an array of specific concepts from strategic management and industrial organization, so as to (ii) understand how digital platforms operate and what sets them apart from other business, and (iii) apply this knowledge to design their own venture.