The Marketplace Economy — An Introduction

For the better part of my career, I have worked for digital marketplace businesses serving as a general manager, growth leader, product manager and strategy consultant. The digital marketplace is a particularly complex business structure, and in these roles, I have had my share of successes, misfires and “in-betweens.” To get inspiration on how address the “challenge du jour,” I often sought insights from books, articles and experts in the field; however, there were many other situations where I had to figure things out on my own.

Questions like the following consumed many an hour for me and my teams:

  • How do you attract buyers with few sellers, or vice versa?
  • When is it a good time to transition from fine tuning the product in meeting customers’ needs to scaling the business?
  • How do you generate sufficient activity to keep its participants engaged?
  • Who should pay for the offering: buyers, sellers, or both?
  • Who are the key stakeholders in the marketplace ecosystem and how should they be managed?

This blog is a collection of my occasional viewpoints on a variety of topics to help entrepreneurs, investors, marketers, product managers and strategic planners — build, scale and manage digital marketplaces. If you are interested in how marketplaces work, this blog will seek to give you a unique perspective on familiar topics as well as fill in the gaps on some of the more specialized topics related to managing digital marketplaces.

This blog will also touch on the bigger picture role digital marketplaces have in our economy today. Digital marketplaces have transformed numerous industries, such short-term accommodations, local transportation, collectibles and many more. In the process they have made buying goods and services more efficient and provided income for millions of people. They are also often key stakeholders in the communities in which they operate and can have a significant environmental footprint. Taken together, these factors suggest marketplaces have an important role in our economy today, which this blog will hopefully illuminate.

Thank you for reading my blog. I encourage your feedback on the ideas I have put forward.



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Rob Mihalko

Rob Mihalko


Tech executive, advisor and instructor at Stanford, focusing on digital marketplaces. Outdoor enthusiast and occasional triathlon competitor.