Online platforms support so many of our daily activities that we have become dependent
on them in our personal and professional lives. We rely on them to buy and sell goods
and services, to find information online and to keep in touch with each other. We
use them for entertainment, news, transportation, accommodation, finding jobs and
employees, finding apps and for many other purposes. Online platforms have also raised
new and important policy questions, but the businesses themselves can be more complex
than they appear so they are not always well understood. This report contains detailed
profiles of twelve of the world’s leading platform companies and derives insights
from those profiles about what platforms actually do, how they do it, and why they
succeed financially. For example, the report finds that although platforms tend to
have a number of economic characteristics in common, they also vary so greatly that
they cannot be compartmentalised into just a few categories, let alone a single sector.
Moreover, they do not all succeed for the same reasons. In addition, although the
major Chinese platforms still have a low profile within the OECD, they are in the
process of expanding globally and deserve more attention.