Reading ‘Matchmakers’ and Wondering if Higher Ed Is a Multisided Platform?
By Joshua Kim
There are two book that every person who wants to radically disrupt higher education – and every person who wants to preserve the core practices and culture of higher education – should read.
These are the same two books. And neither of these books are about higher education.
They are, Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy–And How to Make Them Work for You – co-written by my colleague Geoff Parker (see my review here), and Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms.
For both good and for ill, platform thinking is coming to higher education. We need to be prepared.
The central argument of Matchmakers is that modern multisided platforms, such as Airbnb and Uber, have the potential to disrupt incumbent industries at a pace and scale that are dramatically different than in the past. A multisided platform is one that matches buyers and sellers of a service or product, but that does not offer that service or product itself.
These platforms are nothing new – in fact they are as old as the ancient market bazaar – but a combination of information age technologies has fundamentally altered the impact of these matchmakers. Uber is able to disrupt the taxi market (and in the future perhaps the private automobile ownership market), only because of the emergence of smart phones, mobile apps, and unlimited bandwidth.
Matchmakers, which really should be read alongside Platform Revolution, does an excellent job of reviewing the conditions in which platforms succeed, (such as OpenTable, YouTube and Facebook) – and when they fail to gain or lose traction (such as MySpace, Google+, and Friendster).
Full Content: Inside Higher ED