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A People-Fueled Platform Business

July 08 |

Platform businesses have been in existence for hundreds of years, from the agora in Athens to the Uber that’s coming to pick you up in four minutes. By “platform”, I am referring to any business that creates value by connecting a producer and a consumer. Platform businesses are also often referred to in terms of the infamous “sharing economy” that everyone loves to discuss. Though their existence is nothing new, their ability to break new grounds in the business world is more apparent today than ever before.

Over the past decade, platform businesses have very clearly taken center stage. Airbnb, Uber, Facebook, LinkedIn, Alibaba, eBay, Craigslist, you name it, all platforms. So, how have these companies taken off?

The manner in which such businesses scale is unique and incomparable to traditional business models. At its core, platform businesses tend to create better and more effective ways of connecting supply and demand. Often, rather than producing what is required, platform businesses enable customers to access the best solutions via their service. Compared with linear business models, there are fewer barriers to scale. While a traditional business model may work for Starbucks, recent trends indicate that platform businesses are continuing to outgrow traditional businesses.

While AlphaSights is not a technology-based platform, I’d argue that it’s something even more powerful: a people-based platform

AlphaSights has clearly grasped the platform model; we do not claim to have all of the knowledge that business leaders seek in-house, as that would firstly be impossible and secondly it would not be efficient or scalable. Rather, we search for that knowledge, connecting our clients to experts that have years of first-hand experience in a particular space in order to get them up to speed quickly and effectively. Furthermore, while AlphaSights is not a technology-based platform, I’d argue that it’s something even more powerful: a people-based platform. By leveraging smart, driven people to facilitate the connections on a very high-touch, customized level, we are able to surpass the matching capabilities of a mere algorithm. The result is the tremendous growth that AlphaSights has experienced over the past 8 years; an example of the unparalleled scalability of platform businesses combined with the skill and subtlety of a service business.


Jasmine joined our San Francisco office in June 2016 and works on their Private Equity segment.