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15 facts you should know about the platform economy

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Findings from a report released earlier this year by the Center for Global Enterprise have illustrated the remarkable size and growth of the platform economy. The Rise of the Platform Enterprise: A Global Survey surveyed 176 platform companies around the world in order to ascertain the geographical spread and size of platform economies across all sectors, including software, e-commerce and financial services.

The report’s authors, Peter C. Evans and Annabelle Gawer, say in the report’s introduction that platform businesses are adding to productivity and innovation while disrupting industries:

Enterprises that leverage the power of platform business models have grown dramatically in size and scale over the past decade. No longer the sole domain of social media, travel, books or music, platform business models have made inroads into transportation, banking and even healthcare and energy.

The survey set a threshold of $1 billion market cap or valuation for companies to be included in the dataset.

Consequently, many up and coming enterprise platform companies, such as Marketplacer, Freelancer, Upwork, TaskRabbit and Fiverr have not been included in the report, which means the value figures from the report do not take into account the potential total value for the platform economy once these companies are included.

However, the report’s findings are still remarkable as an indicator of the growth and potential of the platform economy. As the authors write in their conclusion:

There is clearly a rising platform economy shaping our global business landscape and affecting the lives of citizens worldwide. This new form of organization seems to be a robust – some would even say dominant – form of business enterprise in the digital economy.

Here are 15 facts you should know about the platform economy:

  1. Worldwide platform companies have a market value of over US$4.3 trillion.
  2. Uber has expanded to 67 countries in seven years; it took IBM 50 years to do that.
  3. Asia now has the largest number of platform enterprises with 82, with 64 platform companies identified in China.
  4. North American platform companies have over 72% of global value compared to 22% for Asian platforms.
  5. Publicly traded platforms directly employ at least 1.3 million people.
  6. The highest concentration of platform companies can be found in the San Francisco Bay Area, with 44 companies headquartered there.
  7. Following the San Francisco Bay Area, Beijing is home to 30 platform companies.
  8. Shanghai is home to 15 platform companies, while New York and London have 8 apiece.
  9. San Francisco Bay Area platform companies have a collective market cap of $2.2 trillion dollars – 52% of the value of the 176 companies surveyed.
  10. Of the companies surveyed, 69 are public companies and 107 are private.
  11. Private platform companies have an estimated combined value of close to $300 billion.
  12. Public platform companies tend to be bigger in size and their total estimated market value is about $3.9 trillion.
  13. The survey identified four basic types of platform company: transaction; innovation; investment; and integrated.
  14. Platform companies are highly innovative. In 2014, nine US platforms were awarded 11,585 patents.
  15. Apple is the most valuable publicly traded platform company, worth an estimated $560 billion.

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