Inside the MIT Platform Strategy Summit

Turning a conference into an experience!

The MIT Platform Strategy Summit will take place this year on July 15th. The Summit, now in its 9th year, has become the go-to annual event exploring the economics and management of platforms. 

The Summit began as a small workshop in 2013. At the time, platforms were still a novel business model and only beginning to make a mark. Uber was only 4 years old, Fiverr 3 years old, Twitch just 2 years old, and Peloton only one-year-old. Today, there are thousands of platforms operating across a wide range of sectors and geographies around the world. The top 100 platforms support billions of transactions daily and have grown to make up a significant chunk of the global economy.  The top 100 platforms now have a collective market cap of approximately $15 trillion up from $4.3 trillion in 2016.   

I’ve been attending and contributing to the Summit since it launched. Four years ago, I joined Marshall Van Alstyne and Geoffrey Parker as co-chair. It has been exciting to help shape the agenda, meet platform professionals, and contribute ideas about how to make the best use of the time we have together for all who attend.  

This year the Summit will run from 8:15 AM to 2:30 PM EDT so just over 6 hours from beginning to end. We recognize that the professionals who attend have heavy demands on their time. As a result, we must ensure that the Summit is more than just a conference. It must be a great experience. It must be time well spent. 

How do will we do this for a global virtual event? There are three ways:

Thought leadership and business Insights

First and foremost, it is essential to secure thought leaders with valuable business insights that they are able and willing to share. This year we are fortunate to have 6 CEOs, a Chief Digital Officer, a Chief Technology Officer, and a Chief Economist all hailing from Fortune 500 companies. We are also pleased to welcome Pinar Ozcan, a rising platform scholar. A Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School, Oxford University, her research includes AI and business models in fintech, open banking and digital disruption in banking, and the rise of big tech platforms.

While the program is stacked with amazing leaders, I am particularly excited to facilitate the panel session at 10:45 AM titled Energy Platforms: Accelerating the Great Energy Transition. The panel will examine the relationship between platforms and a cleaner global energy system. Specifically, it will explore questions like: What are the opportunities to harness platform business models to drive energy transformation at scale?

Each of the leaders participating in this session bring a wealth of experience and insight to share on how platform business models can play an important role in a move to net zero carbon emissions.

Paul Browning is President & CEO of Mitsubishi Power Americas with responsibilities that also extend to Europe, Africa, the Middle East. He is leading a major bet Mitsubishi is making on hydrogen technology. I will ask him why he believes a platform approach may play a role in winning this bet.  

Ilham Kadri is the CEO of the Solvay Group, Chair of the Executive Committee and member of the Board of Directors. She has been working on important organizational and personnel changes to ensure that the Group's growth platforms, which includes batteries, green hydrogen, and thermoplastic composites, are positioned to succeed. She will share how platform-thinking is shaping her company’s strategy and expanding its role in sustainability.    

Cathy Zoi is the CEO of EVGo nation’s largest public fast-charging EV network and the first powered by 100% renewable electricity. Just last week, she completed a successful stock listing on the Nasdaq exchange providing a valuable infusion of new capital into the company. She will share her perspective of how platforms can accelerate the electrification of transportation.  

Finally, we will be joined by Laszlo Varro. He is well-known in the energy world as the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA). He has been a force behind many important projects including, most recently the IEA’s flagship report Net Zero by 2050 released in May.   The big news is that he has been recruited by Shell to become its Chief Economist and is just beginning this new role. He will share his perspective on where and how platform business models can play a role in the great energy transition.  

This is sure to be a panel packed with insight on a topic that is of urgent global significance.  

Music Experience

Last year we experimented making music a part of the Summit experience, with live streams from two gifted artists-- Steven Page and Craig King. This was very well received so we are doing it again.   

This year we reached out to Songtradr to identify two artists. Songtradr is the world’s largest B2B music licensing marketplace, connecting artists who produce music with agencies, film and TV, apps and games, and others looking to buy music. The platform now hosts over 800,000 artists.  

With Songtradr’s help, we are excited to feature Alice Pisano and David Davis.  

Alice was born in Italy and now lives in London. She broke onto the music scene in 2019 with her heart-warming EP ‘Celebrate Life’. The EP’ picked up immediate editorial support on Spotify, critical acclaim and support from BBC Introducing and National Dutch Radio NPO Radio 2. The title track ‘Celebrate Life’ has since amassed over 3.6 million streams on Spotify.

For a preview of Alice see

Alice will be introduced by the founder and CEO of Songtradr, Paul Wiltshire.  

David Davis grew up in Chicago but now hails from Los Angeles. He won NBC’s Songland for “Everything It Took To Get To You” by Ben Platt. That winning song charted at #1 on the New Pop Chart and #2 on the Pop Chart. Davis’s sound is described as a fusion of Pop, R&B/Soul and contemporary music. Davis’s first album, The Long & Short of It debuted in 2018 and since then he has collaborated with many well-known producers.  

For a preview of David see

David will be introduced by Joe Belliotti, Senior Vice President, Vinyl Brand Solutions at Songtradr.

Virtual Networking Experience

For seven years, we were very fortunate to be able to host the Summit on the 6th floor of The MIT Media Lab. With stunning views of the Charles River and Boston City skyline and incredibly well-designed conference space, it has been a world-class place to gather. Networking among attendees was a synch. There was not much we had to do to make it happen.  For the most part, it happened spontaneously. 

Moving to a virtual event has made these networking opportunities much more challenging. As students of platforms, we are acutely aware of the loss of same-side network effects. We have been looking for solutions and think we found one. This year, we are introducing Twine. This cloud-based software uses attendee's LinkedIn profile to find relevant matches. Once a match is made, the technology then ports these matches into 3-minute one-on-one virtual meetings. For example, a platform professional responsible for platform product management at a retail company in the US might be matched with a similar professional in Europe or Latin America.  

I’ve tried the technology twice and found it very engaging and a great way to meet people on a short focused one-on-one basis that would not otherwise happen in a virtual event. Twine was founded by Lawrence Coburn, Taylor McLoughlin, and Diana Rau, who are veterans of event technology.

So, we hope you will join us for time well spent. The Summit will be engaging on many levels. It will not be your average virtual event. It will be an experience.

To register for the MIT Platform Strategy Summit on Thu, Jul 15, 2021 hit the button below: