New business models require new tools, networks and mindsets. In this retrospective Q&A, Vizions speaker and author Laure Claire Reillier looks back at how Europe’s first platform conference got the ball rolling, and how her expertise added food for thought.
Tell us about your company. What do we need to know about Launchworks?Launchworks is an innovative digital transformation advisory business, specialising in platform business models. We work with startup, scale-up and mature platforms, but also with traditional firms to help them acquire platform capabilities. These new business models work very differently from traditional ones and require new ways of thinking, new management tools and frameworks. Launchworks, who is run by former platform executives from eBay, Airbnb, Stripe, Paypal, American Express etc., brings unique insights on how to design, ignite and scale these new business models.
What’s your background? How does it influence your current role?
I wanted to be a dancer or a pianist, but somehow I ended up studying computer sciences and telecommunications in the early 90’s! I was very fortunate however, as my college in Paris was one of the first universities to be connected to the Web in 1992, shortly after it was created. I remember spending a whole night checking out every single site… That probably makes me one of the oldest digital natives.
I started my career as a Product Manager in a software startup that was acquired by IBM. I was then sponsored to do my MBA and later approached by British Telecom to run the IP Telephony and E-commerce Services division. My passion for platforms started there where I tried (and sadly failed!) to launch a service marketplace.
I was then hired by eBay to join their European team to develop the value proposition for sellers and merchants across Europe. After a few years, I realised that while platforms were changing the world, expert advice was sorely lacking. Benoit Reillier, my husband and Platform Strategy co-author, had independently reached the same conclusion after years of advising the boards and management teams of many tech companies – including platforms. And that’s how Launchworks was born in 2013.
What did you talk about at Vizions?
The way value is being created in our economies has shifted dramatically over the past fifteen years. For 200 years or so, firms were organised as linear traditional businesses. But over the past fifteen years, we have been moving to a platform world where businesses are creating value by attracting, matching and connecting different groups and communities to enable them to transact. This is the platform model powering marketplaces, app stores, exchanges, social networks, sharing economy sites, etc. My talk was on how traditional firms can embrace these new models and themselves become platform-powered ecosystems.
In fact, it was far better than just me talking, as my appearance was in conversation with Keyvan Nilforoushan, the deputy CEO of onefinestay, a premium home sharing platform that was recently acquired by AccorHotels, one of the largest hotel/hospitality group in the World. Our talk was about how firms, like AccorHotels, can combine their existing activities with platforms and the associated transformation and integration journey.
What was an eyebrow raising moment at Vizions? Any surprising new learnings?Well, I remember this panel where Cindy Gallop told us that we should live broadcast our own sex events on her site, while another panelist insisted that Blockchain would make these interactions frictionless!
How did Vizions – and Berlin as a host city – differ from other events you’ve been to?
I’ve been to my fair share of events and I must say that Vizions was unique in many ways, and probably the most impressive event I have ever had the privilege to participate in. The sheer scale, the venue, the quality of the speakers, the organization and the logistics – everything was amazing. Also, the fact that Zalando decided to design the event to benefit the entire platform ecosystem (rather than to push its own agenda) was a masterstroke.
Berlin is fantastic as a city and the #BuildPlatformNotWalls hashtag makes so much sense when you are only meters away from the vestiges of the Berlin wall. I have spent time in Paris, London, New York and San Francisco, and Berlin’s tech ecosystem is definitely up there with the best!
You launched your book, ‘Platform Strategy’ at the conference and we on the Vizions team love it. What can readers look forward to inside?
A lot! It is actually two books in one. The first few chapters explain what platforms are and how they work in general, using examples and case studies from Apple, Facebook and Amazon to illustrate how these models operate. We then present the Rocket Model, a new framework to help analyze and manage platform businesses. The second part is aimed at people who would like to design, ignite and scale their own platform. In these chapters, we discuss in more detail specific platform aspects such as success metrics, pricing, trust, governance principles, and regulation. We also have a section for corporates on how they should approach digital transformation.
Platform Strategy was released during Vizions and we’ve already received many kind emails from readers who told us that they liked and learned a lot, so that’s immensely rewarding!