Makers VS Governors
Some web services choose to make. Making takes many forms: The service could create original content (Pitchfork), build a tool set for helping me be more efficient (Zoho), or build *fracking* robots (Double Robotics).
Other services choose to govern, and allow anyone to create within the boundaries of their governance. Uber doesn’t drive me anywhere, the drivers in their network do the driving, and Uber just creates the governance system that organizes both supply and demand. Etsy doesn’t make their crafts, the crafters make the crafts and sell within the scope of the Etsy marketplace under their governance.
The difference I’m highlighting in this post is often lost in the catch-all word: Product. All of the companies I have listed above build a product. But the way you go about building a product when you are making something instead of governing a community is radically different. Making is often very feature-oriented. Adding the jet pack feature to your robot makes it better. Governing is messier, more human. Governing consistently and fairly is difficult. And sometimes the wise approach involves almost no new feature development for years on end.
And lastly, some companies can pull off the magic trick of both making an iconic product while also governing the ecosystem that emerges from the broad adoption of their product at the same time. Those companies are pretty special.
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