Decentralised apps set to disrupt platform companies

The platform businesses of today such as Uber (above) and Airbnb realise value through proprietary control of the interface through which value is traded. However, decentralised apps are set to challenge this business model by decreasing the value of
The platform businesses of today such as Uber (above) and Airbnb realise value through proprietary control of the interface through which value is traded. However, decentralised apps are set to challenge this business model by decreasing the value of these businesses' primary asset - "trust".PHOTO: REUTERS

Three years ago, Zenith Media's Tom Goodwin noted: "Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening."

Mr Goodwin observed that "these companies are indescribably thin layers that sit on top of vast supply systems (where the costs are) and interface with a huge number of people (where the money is)". He concluded that "the interface is where the profit is" and "trust is the most important asset".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2018, with the headline 'Decentralised apps set to disrupt platform companies'. Subscribe