What do the most successful disruptors of this century have in common? They’re all platform-driven businesses that have achieved unprecedented value through massive reach. And they do that by executing one thing far better than anything that’s come before. That could be an experience that vastly surpasses anything else available. It could be delivering at dramatically lower cost, or at lighting speed.
But what every one of these hypergrowth disruptors shares is the ability to completely reimagine what companies do and how they do it. Step changes of this magnitude don’t just happen. Achieving them demands the vision, courage and ambition to redesign the known world through innovation, bold thinking and a singular focus.
Growth platforms all start small
It’s hard to imagine today’s super platforms as start-ups. But they all were. Every one of them started as a bright idea and a handful of users. Their journey to massive scale is the very definition of hypergrowth. And this usually reflects a very deliberate – almost obsessive focus – on a specific growth lever.
One example? Facebook. When it launched in the early 2000s, it was not the only social network nor the most widely adopted. Back then, Facebook had 45M users, Myspace had 115M. So, what helped Facebook become as huge as it is today, and why did its peers from 20 years ago fade from view1?
The hypergrowth story begins
The story starts with Chamath Palihapitiya. He pioneered the concept of a team focused entirely on growth. Recognizing that dedicated teams for product development and marketing on their own would not achieve the network effect Facebook needed to expand, he pitched the idea of a new team that sat somewhere in the middle1.
This ‘Growth Team’ would solely focus on how to drive user acquisition strategy and growth. By experimenting, testing and analyzing, his team discovered the key to sustainable hypergrowth for Facebook was to “get any individual to seven friends in 10 days.1”
This one metric became a key focus for the entire company. The rest is history. It’s an approach that has been followed with enormous success by many others. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Google2 have all experimented over the years with various Growth Team models – formal and informal – to drive customer acquisition, engagement, monetization, and retention.
The results speak for themselves. In FY 2020, the top 300 global platforms generated approximately $1.5 trillion in revenues with 41% of that from B2C, 59% from B2B.
Global platform company revenues
($ Billion USD)