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Platform Capitalism

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  755 ratings  ·  98 reviews
What is the relationship between emerging technology and the future structure of our economy? Is contemporary capitalism unwittingly breeding the technologies that will herald its own downfall? In this cutting-edge new book, rising star of the accelerationist movement Nick Srnicek addresses these questions, showing how contemporary innovations in automation, cybernetics an ...more
Paperback, 171 pages
Published December 2016 by Polity (first published 2016)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Always Pouting
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book covers the topic of technology and how the evolution of the biggest technology companies isn't anomalous when put into the context of our economic history. I really appreciated this book because I read a similar business book last year about platforms, and I have to say it was terrible, but this one was much more concise and actually offered information about economics that was new to me. Also I think it's a fitting time to have a book like this which discusses how technology companies ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work, history, economics
One of the things I liked most about this was that it said it isn’t enough to just tell you what platform capitalism is, but rather how it fits into the recent history of capitalism and therefore the forces that have been driving its rise. So, the first couple of chapters here provide a kind of history of the development of computer networks, and also of finance capital, venture capital and monetary policy. The point being that it is the interrelatedness of these that has made ‘platform capitali ...more
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally! A book that discusses the emergence of platform capitalism paying particular attention to firms like Google and Facebook and their evolution. All of the controversy that has been around recently regarding users privacy on Facebook certainly highlighted to me that these firms couldn't care less about their users, they are motivated solely by money making. I appreciated that this was concise but considered and really accessible too.

This is an essential book for anyone wanting to know mor
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The reduction in inequality after the Second World War was an exception to the general rule of capitalism" - Thomas Piketty

The present book aims to supplement these other perspectives by giving an economic history of capitalism and digital technology while recognizing the diversity of economic forms and the competitive tensions inherent in the contemporary economy. The simple wager of the book is that we can learn a lot about major tech companies by taking them to be economic actors within a c
Wendy Liu
A compelling and thoughtful look at some of the largest players in the technology industry from a Marxist perspective. Very short (the endnotes begin on page 130, and the font size is huge) and highly readable. I wish it was longer, actually, but even as it is now I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the technology industry within the larger context of capitalism.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is this 90's utopian dream on building the Internet to become a stateless and corporateless decentralised virtual nirvana. There is also this economy boom that happened in the 90's: commercialisation of Internet. Unfortunately the latter is what shaped our Internet today. Nick Srnicek in this book claims that these venture capitals with financial speculation on 'growth before profit' in the 90's that finally created this new model of business: platform capitalism. For platform capitalist d ...more
Clare O'Beara
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The first chapter brings up to date our knowledge of capitalist economies, their tribulations and booms since WW2 and especially the low-interest world since 2008. With no interest, firms increasingly looked for tax avoidance including offshore investment. This doesn't carry a high level of detail.

The second chapter explains data hosting platforms and how companies increasingly put their admin and processes on computer and on the internet. We're told that the net uses 9.2% of the world's electri
This book takes a slightly wider view of the platform phenomenon. It situates the emergence of platform business models at the intersection of technological and macroeconomic developments. The move to an informational economy is not new. Technology allows to generate and process burgeoning volumes of data. Further, the financial crash of 2008 has resulted in an economic environment that is characterised by low interest rates and large amounts of cash seeking decent rates of return. This has push ...more
This book is just what I was after: a short and crystal-clear look at the digital economy and the new business models that have emerged from it. The author provides a cool-headed and strictly economic assessment of a field that is plagued with hyperbolic futurologists, whether of the utopian or apocalyptic kind. Though the author does mean business, he has a lively style, avoids jargon and offers abundant examples to illustrate each of his assertions: it’s great if like me you have only a very b ...more
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Exceptional book! So concise for such exhaustively researched work, and so imaginative. Essential reading to understand how platforms grow and stutter and are fragmenting the vast wild internet as we know it into smaller joyless enclosures.
Tara Brabazon
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding book that understands how and why Google, Air bnb and Uber are successful. The private commercialization of public innovations - like the internet - in the 1990s has fed platform capitalism. The marketing of privacy and the individualization of risk has resulted in anti-statist under-regulation of the public good.

A powerful and intriguing book. A great interpretation of digitization and capitalism, and digitization in capitalism.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
Interesting but rather jargon-y - technical. Mostly about the influence of powerful internet platforms like Amazon on the capitalist economy. He views giant platforms such as Amazon as the key to the new digital economy, but rues their outsize influence on the economy. Little did he know that their influence and importance would get even more outsize with the pandemic shutdown. I had no idea either since I finished reading the book before the covid shutdown hit later in March 2020. I never compl ...more
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: phd-reading-list
Biting, punchy and simple. Srnicek delivers the present-day map that fully displays how everything is terrible. For the most part it does a great job at uncovering how platforms continuously get away with exploiting, out-sourcing and wealth-hoarding beyond regulatory measures, but the very last bit I feel half-heartedly explores platform cooperativism purely for the sake of not ending things on a bad note. Either way good book.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent book. Very informative and concise while offering a lot of new information and delivering a point of view on platforms not found in other discussions.
Niklas Pivic
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The argument of this book is that, with a long decline in manufacturing profitability, capitalism has turned to data as one way to maintain economic growth and vitality in the face of a sluggish production sector."

The above quote from the book is true, in a roundabout way. I'm quite certain - without verifying it - that Nick Srnicek does not really like capitalism; I'm completely with him, if that is the case. You've already guessed my stance on the matter, that it's likable to me much as someb
I was a bit sceptical of this book to begin with, but I think that I have been won round after all. The premise of the book - that capitalism isn't coming to an end, it is simply transforming into something else - is one that I am sympathetic towards. However, if this is so, then what is it transforming into, and what evidence is there to support the notion of transformation?

One answer to these questions is supplied by this book. The author takes the view that we have moved beyond the realms of
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
In recent years, the strategies of some of the major Internet sector firms have been converging so that there is an increasingly concentrated set of large firms - Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and even Microsoft that have some strategic activities in common. In addition, relatively newer actors are pioneering aggressive and scalable market-making business models (Uber, Lyft, AirBnB)) with similar characteristics. These are all examples of “Network Platform” firms that serve multiple sets of c ...more
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
-1 star solely because the first 2 chapters didn't provide much new information to me on their own.

Still, a great and important read. A quick one too. Highly recommend. 5 stars for the 3rd chapter. Learning about how the global post-war economy set the stage for the dot-com and current tech boom was the highlight of this book. It was nice having everything laid out so clearly in one place. It also explains a lot of the current trends in Tech from an economics point of view. Especially handy for
Cooper Carrington
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very essential read that is not just about how the tech industry has seemingly thrived and functions in every aspect of our lives, but about how modern capitalism has become very dependent on these massive tech monopolies that are currently on very unstable grounds.

A chilling and vital read.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Short, pithy. He's on to something. I'm not convinced he gets it all right. The notion of data capture as key.... interesting. Some of the contextualization is a bit hackneyed. But that's easily forgiven because it's not central to his thesis. ...more
Christopher O
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: critique
Pretty insightful, a bit outdated :(
Colin Cox
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
In Platform Capitalism, Nick Srnicek asks a simple but profoundly relevant question: how are tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook behaving within a capitalist mode of production? In an attempt to answer this question, Srnicek considers the platforms or digital infrastructures that these companies build, use, and disseminate. Furthermore, Srnicek investigates the ways in which data and data mining have become an increasingly pernicious preoccupation for tech companies.

Srnicek's short
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Platforms like Facebook, Google and Uber seem to exist without precedent, but Nick Srnicek explains how platform capitalism has been in the making for a long time.

After the Second World War, workers had stable jobs, steadily growing wages, and plans to retire with a good pension. While marginalized groups were fighting for their share in the "American Dream", Germany and Japan's economies were recovering from the devastation of the war, eventually undercutting American manufacturing with cheaper
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

This was a really interesting book, particularly if you’re interested in technology or work to some extent in the STEM fields. A significant proportion of the book is tightly focused on the period between 2015 and 2017 when it was published. So it’s a fairly good book to understand the current moment in the unfolding tech landscape, particularly its relationship to the larger context of austerity measures and loose monetary policy. There are also so many fascinating facts and numbers ar
Richelle Wilson
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The gig economy. The sharing economy. The fourth industrial revolution. These terms and their ever-proliferating host of synonyms represent our attempts to describe the current economic moment. “We are told today that we are living in an age of massive transformation,” begins Nick Srnicek in the introduction to Platform Capitalism (1). But are we? Srnicek argues that while the locus of business has increasingly shifted to digital platforms, “platform capitalism” is, from an economic perspective, ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for the era of information bubbles, on-demand culture, and corporate-controlled social networks.
Đạt Tiêu
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Platform capitalism notes

I. Industrial revolution history
- 1st revolution:
+ The end of 18th century - the beginning of 19th century.
+ The invention of steam engine, textile industry, iron making industry...
- 2nd revolution:
+ The end of 19th century - the beginning of 20th century
+ The invention of electricity, steel industry, oil industry...
+ Fordism: moving assembly line -> mass production
+ Taylorism: scientific management -> labor specialization, cost reduction.
-> From 1970s:
+ overc
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a short, but meaty book. It is about rationalizing the present moment in time referred to by such terms as the sharing economy, mass digital surveillance, Internet of Things, etc., by looking at them as a product of capitalism rather than as one of either politics, economic trends, or of cultural ideologies. The author counts the following reasons for the rise of platform capitalism: The playing field of a capitalistic society where competition and profit seeking are the drivers; the tra ...more
Oscar To
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent quick piece on the new platforms that have emerged in the light of the information age and the means by which they function. Srnicek looks not only at the historical conditions that have led to the development of these firms, he also elucidates the tendencies and weaknesses of these models as well.

After a brief introductory chapter, he first provides the historical background to the emergence of platform capitalism covering the crises of the 70s, the dotcom bust and the 2008 financi
Sean Tatol
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I like Srniecek and agree with his politics, but I've found both this and Inventing The Future (with Alex Williams) underwhelming. In both cases I read the books because I already had a grasp of the subjects from here and there online and wanted a deeper understanding that I thought an actual book could provide, but in both cases I came away without a feeling I learned anything of substance. I guess the problem is that he's more of a researcher than a thinker, which is reflected in the way both ...more
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Nick Srnicek is an American writer and academic. He is currently a lecturer in Digital Economy at King's College London.

Born in 1982, Srnicek took a double major in Psychology and Philosophy before completing an MA at the University of Western Ontario in 2007. He proceeded to a PhD at the London School of Economics, completing his thesis in 2013 on "Representing complexity: the material construct

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“The fact that the information platform requires an extension of sensors means that it is countering the tendency towards a lean platform. These are not asset-less companies – far from it; they spend billions of dollars to purchase fixed capital and take other companies over. Importantly, ‘once we understand this [tendency], it becomes clear that demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the Internet is like asking Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand’.15 Calls for privacy miss how the suppression of privacy is at the heart of this business model. This tendency involves constantly pressing against the limits of what is socially and legally acceptable in terms of data collection. For the most part, the strategy has been to collect data, then apologise and roll back programs if there is an uproar, rather than consulting with users beforehand.16 This is why we will continue to see frequent uproars over the collection of data by these companies.” 1 likes
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