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Disruptive Innovation: Leveraging Multi-Sided Platforms

  • Date

    December 4, 2023

  • Time

    11:00 AM – 3:00 PM EST

  • Length

    2 consecutive Mondays

  • Format


  • Cost


  • Registration Deadline

    November 26, 2023

Three business people face a computer-generated display of charts for a multi-sided platform.

Develop skills and strategies to design, launch, and scale a successful multi-sided digital platform and compete in the Web3 world.

What You'll Learn

Multi-sided platforms have massively disrupted the business world. The success of Uber and AirBnb radically altered the transportation and lodging industries. As technology continues to evolve rapidly, thousands of other platform ventures hope to have similar impacts on other sectors. Some of these platforms might be operated by human-less decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), powered by blockchain, smart contracts, and artificial intelligence. 

This program examines what actually happens during the design, development, launch, and scaling of a digital platform business. Moving beyond theory, participants will explore on-the-ground challenges in strategy and management that building a successful multi-sided business platform entails. Participants will identify and develop the skills they need to grow—or compete with—a multi-sided platform venture. 

Participants in this interactive program will gain critical insights from detailed case studies created by industry experts and successful innovators. They will develop an in-depth understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, benefits, and consequences of this innovative business model for the different stakeholders in a platform’s ecosystem.

Program Benefits

  • Learn the theories and examples of the key principles driving the success of platforms
  • Develop the skills you need to design and analyze multi-sided platform businesses
  • Identify the optimal route to test, launch, and grow a new platform
  • Practice balancing supply with demand through pricing and marketing
  • Prepare your business to face competition from platform companies and from Web3-powered decentralized platforms
  • Predict the future of industries and markets as platforms continue to expand globally
  • Earn a Certificate of Participation from the Harvard Division of Continuing Education

Topics Covered

  • Key functions that every platform must perform to attract and serve customers, including assumptions, goals, constraints, and data that most platform managers encounter
  • Potential strategic weaknesses, such as customers finding ways to avoid paying for the service and competitors enticing customers away from the platform (or multi-homing, where customers utilize two competing platforms simultaneously)
  • Types and implications of “network effects”, where the value for each user on the platform is directly related to the number of other users
  • Optimal boundaries of a platform’s offerings to balance control with innovation
  • Counterstrategies that traditional, non-platform companies might employ to thwart the arrival of competition from platforms
  • Technologies that will accelerate the rise of platform business models — but might undermine the success of platforms operated by centralized companies — with blockchain, smart contracts, and artificial intelligence


The interactive online sessions will be a mix of small group exercises, plenary debates, and simulations. The interactive sessions will not be recorded.

Participants will prepare for each online session by watching pre-recorded lectures and interviews highlighting one or more case studies with platform founders. These videos must be previewed prior to the online sessions. 

Who Should Enroll

This program is intended for entrepreneurs and managers who seek to understand the drivers underneath the next big wave in the evolution of business. This includes strategists and product developers who seek to innovate business offerings, as well as technologists, investors, and marketers who are building, funding, and selling these offerings.

December Schedule

Week 1
• Coordination Costs
• The Platform Canvas
• The Network Effects, and its Limitations
• First Mover Advantage
• Switching Dosts
• Disintermediation

Week 2
• Platform Boundaries
• Strategies for Launching a Platform
• Reactions from Incumbents
• The Future of Economies in the Platform Age
• The Future of Societies in the Platform Age


  • Professional Development Programs Instructor Ted Ladd

    Ted Ladd

    Ted is the Dean of Research and a Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Hult International Business School and an Instructor at Harvard University. He has won 10 teaching awards in the past six years.

Certificates of Leadership Excellence

The Certificates of Leadership Excellence (CLE) are designed for leaders with the desire to enhance their business acumen, challenge current thinking, and expand their leadership skills.

This program is one of several CLE qualifying programs. Register today and get started earning your certificate.

Learn More