Teaching a ‘Lean Startup’ Strategy

Most startups fail because they waste too much time and money building the wrong product before realizing too late what the right product should have been, says HBS entrepreneurial management professor Thomas R. Eisenmann. In his new MBA course, Launching Technology Ventures, Eisenmann introduces students to the idea of the lean startup—a methodology that has proven successful for many young high-tech companies. Closed for comment; 56 Comments posted.

Opening Platforms: How, When and Why?

It is crucial for firms that create and maintain platforms to select optimal levels of openness. Decisions to open a platform entail tradeoffs between adoption and appropriability, and opening a platform can spur adoption by harnessing network effects, reducing users' concerns about lock-in, and stimulating production of differentiated goods that meet the needs of user segments. At the same time, opening a platform typically reduces users' switching costs and increases competition among platform providers, making it more difficult for them to appropriate rents from the platform. This paper describes research on factors that motivate managers to open or close mature platforms. Read More

Managing Proprietary and Shared Platforms: A Life-Cycle View

The challenges facing platform managers vary systematically depending on (1) whether the platform is proprietary or shared and (2) the stage of platform development. This article summarizes the results of a multiyear research project on platform strategies, including interviews with 30 companies. It describes 3 stages of the platform life cycle—platform design, network mobilization, and platform maturity—and reviews in depth the strategic decisions and management issues for each stage. Read More

Platform Envelopment

Established platform providers can be difficult to displace. This paper explores a path to platform leadership change that does not rely on breakthrough innovation or Schumpeterian creative destruction: a phenomenon the authors call "platform envelopment." In practical terms, envelopment entails one platform provider adding another platform's functionality to its own, and then offering a multiplatform bundle. Eisenmann and his colleagues describe a variety of envelopment attacks based on the relationship between the attacker's platform and its target's, and then discuss the economic and strategic motivations for each attack type. Read More

Lessons of Successful Entrepreneurs

The best way to become an entrepreneur is to jump into the water and get your feet wet, said several successful businessmen at the Harvard Business School Entrepreneurship Conference. Read More

Desktop Search and Revenue Streams

Search is a hot topic in high tech right now, so industry experts at Cyberposium’s "Search Visionary" panel drilled down for the most promising avenues to growth. Read More

Wrap-up: Software, Telecom, and Recovery

How is the VC industry doing on its own and in partnership with software and telecoms? These were just three topics discussed in special panel sessions at the recent conference. Here, a few highlights from those conversations. Read More

Riding the Internet Fast Track

On the Internet Express, getting big fast is the strategy of choice. But is it right for everyone? HBS Professor Thomas R. Eisenmann looks at key factors that can help a company decide. Read More

Cable TV: From Community Antennas to Wired Cities

The cable television industry has long outgrown its roots as a source of better TV reception to achieve its present place as a key player in the emerging telecommunications infrastructure. That change, writes HBS Professor Thomas R. Eisenmann in Business History Review, amid different managerial respondes to the twin—and sometimes competing—objectives of stabilty and growth. In this excerpt, Eisenmann looks at the formative years of the industry, from 1948 to 1975. Read More