I played a good bit of soccer as a kid and even more in college. I mostly played defensive positions. One of the things I most appreciate about the game is that the smallest of errors can have game-changing impact. As a defensive player, an errant pass in the mid-field or a moment out of position in your defensive zone can result in a goal. To borrow a term I don’t really like, solid defensive soccer requires “constant vigilance”. As a defensive player, you have to have your radar up all the time; scanning, marking, closing gaps, nothing can get through. It is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. There is no room for downtime.
I like analogies. This week, Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures wrote a thoughtful post based on an analogy between software powered platforms and governments. Bob Warfield of the SmoothSpan Blog did a follow-up post claiming that application developers should seek platforms that act like Switzerland; something Warfield has apparently been saying since 2007. The government-platform analogy is good, albeit imperfect. The most salient aspects of the analogy are in the area of governance.
Twitter no longer deserves the label “platform”. There, I said it.
Its recent decision to lock out third-party ad networks, combined with its clear move in to the edge application space fundamentally alter what Twitter is. It is no longer a platform for application developers to productize around core stream functionality and monetize the edge of the Twitter network. No, if Twitter wanted to be a platform, it would keep its business focused on inspiring innovation on the edge of its network, managing the infrastructure and monetizing the stream.
Truth is, Twitter never was a platform.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post that covered my areas of investment interest for 2010. Three of the areas I find most interesting are the mobile ecosystem and the payments sector and the theme of “platform” business models. You can find that post here. The natural question I’ve since been asked is:
“What about mobile payments?”
My friends at PYMNTS.com asked me to join in the discussion in their Briefing Room on Mobile Payments. My answers are here.