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Machines, platforms, crowds

machine platform crowd

In a new book, Machine, Platforms and Crowds, the authors (Messrs. McAfee and Brynjolfsson, both from MIT) do a good job of stepping back and look at the overall tech landscape and what it could mean for how companies operate.

This is not their first rodeo (they have previously written good books – e.g. The Second Machine age) and it shows. A chunk of the material is repetitive, but there are good sections on the economics of platforms, the potential impact of Blockchain on companies and how companies should think about each of the key tech trends. Their central thesis is the competition is not between machine vs. man, platform vs. app or core vs crowd, but really that the smart companies will leverage both sides of the coin. Some tidbits:

  • As of 2012, Google was not using deep learning at all; by 2015 it was being used in about 1200 projects
  • In the mid 1990s, the US had ~2400 newspapers and generated about $46B in revenue. By 2013, total revenue had fallen by 70%
  • 2017 was the first year in the last 50 years that a new indoor mall didn’t open in the US
  • An estimated 130M books have been published throughout human history, of which about 30M are the Library of Congress.
  • Between 2011 and 2016 Apple acquired 70 companies, Facebook more than 50, and Google almost 200

Overall, worth a read. If you are in a hurry, they were also featured on a A16Z podcast recently.

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