Can Platform-Publisher Hybrids Survive, Or Will They All Fall Apart?

Today I have a piece in the Harvard Business Review about platform-publisher hybrids. (Some people call them “platishers,” which is an amazing word!) My article discusses some difficulties and complications of building these hybrids. And I have a chart!


January 2015

Today I have a piece in the Harvard Business Review about digital media business models. In the piece, I wrote about some of the forces that pull “platforms” and “publishers” together, and I also discussed the tensions tearing them apart.

While I was writing the piece, I constructed a table to help me think about what I was trying to say. The table didn’t make it into the article, so I wanted to share it here.

The distinction between publishers and platforms is cultural; it’s not an inherent truth. It may be possible to bridge the gap, although it’s difficult due to the conflicting incentives laid out in my article. With that said, here are some common differences between the two:

Platforms… Publishers…
Emphasize that everyone can participate Emphasize taste, curation, and gatekeeping
Have lots of content, since lots of people can create it Have content some people consider higher-quality
Are perceived as having no editorial judgment Are held responsible for editing and values
Can scale more easily to a giant user base Have a defined audience that they try to serve
Identify strongly with the tech subculture Identify strongly with the media subculture

I have lots more to say about this topic — more later! The HBR article is here.

I got my start in digital media at age 15, when I was invited to intern at a game design company. I went on to write games for White Wolf Game Studio; from there, I branched out into blogs, articles, a few books, and general social media mayhem. I have spoken at universities across America and at South By Southwest Interactive. I have also traveled extensively, including Peace Corps service in Swaziland, Africa.

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