Your Platform Is Not In My Space

In 2009, the word that finally got on my nerves was “space”, as in “our product is in the X space” or “the space we are going after is X.”  It seems like the word “space” managed to find its way into every paragraph.

The annoying word of 2010 appears to be “platform”, as in “we are going to be a platform for X” or “our platform for X will solve the following problems.”

In my little corner of the world, the word “platform” is a lot more precious.  There are very few platforms.  You aren’t a platform until you have a zillion users (well, at least 100 million).  Until then, feel free to call yourself a “junior platform” or an “aspiring platform.”  Or, call yourself an “application”, which is what you most likely are.

I definitely make this mistake myself (e.g. “Company Y is a platform for X”) and I’ve been self-censoring lately and now saying “Company Y aspires to be a platform for X”).

Ok, I feel better now.

  • John Minnihan

    Curious about how you'd define fp. There are over 700M loc under mgmt, but well under a million users (~300k). Almost 3/4 of the projects, across all continents, use fp as part of their build system. So there's more than trivial utilization.


  • brmore

    We like to say "we're building and infrastructure that does x" :-).

    We would not presume to say that we know all the opportunities for which "x" can be used. Sorta like your portfolio company SimpleGeo in that they offer up all this "stuff", but I suspect are frequently surprised by the ideas that people dream up to use it all.

  • eli


  • Did you mean self-censoring? 🙂

    A good post, nonetheless.

  • A.

    Indeed. As in:

    A state-of-the-art platform offering must-have turnkey solution for the customer management space.

    Many words. + Little said. = Noise.

  • I agree that words like "platform" are flippantly bandied about. However, I would suggest that using the number of users or customers is not the only way to define a platform. I think the term "platform" also applies to a framework upon which it is possible to build specific solutions for different problems. The car industry is one example where a platform (chassis, power train etc.) can be reused to build very different cars e.g. a family sedan vs. an SUV. This goes back to the principles of reuse and leveraging an existing architecture/foundation that is flexible enough to be applied in different ways. I have been involved with defining technology platforms in the past for consumer electronics products (hardware + software) that allowed us to create a line of products that served very different markets.

  • The word that most gets on my nerves is still "pivot" — but you make a great point about "platform"!

    Now back to building my aspiring platform…