GAFA's org structures as a platform for growth.

Earlier this week I did a podcast with my colleague Steven Sinofsky talking about the management structures of Google, Apple. Facebook and Amazon ('GAFA'). These companies now have around 10 times more employees than they did a decade ago, yet they still manage to function, and function extremely well, producing a stream of great work. The interesting thing is that the management structures that they've used to achieve that are actually very different.

Amazon, at one extreme, is radically decentralised, with hundreds of different small teams all operating independently on top of common platforms - reflecting its need to scale across an indefinite number of different product categories. Apple, at the other extreme, is a deeply structured and systematic company - reflecting its need to produce a hundred million of this new product in three months, three years from now. And Google and Facebook, in turn, have their own highly specific structures that reflect their own capabilities and needs. 

So, we call these companies 'platform companies' because they own technology platforms - chips, operating systems, data, networks, infrastructure, user bases and so on. But the organisation structures and the people and skills within them are themselves platforms that give these companies specific capabilities (and specific limitations). They can point the company at some things, but not others. 

Content isn't king

People in tech and media have been saying that ‘content is king’ for a long time - perhaps since the VHS/Betamax battle of the early 1980s, and perhaps longer. Content and access to content was a strategic lever for technology. I’m not sure how much this is still true.  Music and books don’t matter much to tech anymore, and TV probably won’t matter much either. 

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From mobile first to mobile native

What happens if you just forget about the PC altogether? But also, what happens if you forget about featurephones? What happens if you presume all of the sophistication that a modern smartphone has and a PC does not, and if you also presume that, with 650m iPhones in use and 2.5bn smartphones in total, you can build a big company without thinking about the low end anymore?

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