What is a Platform?

I thought the best way to open a series of posts about platforms is to actually talk about what is a platform. Software platforms have been around for a long time and many of the same principles and dynamics apply across the changing times and technologies.

I want to start off by recommending some homework. I found a book early in my time at Twitter, called Invisible Engines, that helped me greatly in understanding the dynamics and economics of platforms. A lot of how I think about platforms was shaped by that book and you’ll see many of the concepts repeated here. While it looks long, you can focus on a few key chapters to make it an easy read. You can download it as a free eBook from the MIT Press.

Now, let’s go back to June of 2007 — the iPhone has just launched. The only applications allowed on the phone were the ones that Apple built and pre-installed. No Facebook, Pandora, Twitter, Evernote, Uber, Angry Birds, Netflix, Square, and so on. Each one of those applications went on to thrust the iPhone into huge new markets. Square suddenly turned your phone into a money making device for small business owners. Angry Birds made the iPhone an indispensable gaming device. Netflix let you stream movies and TV shows right to your device. Facebook and Twitter turned every phone into something that let you share the world around you — from your child’s birth to a plane landing on the Hudson. The iPhone would not be the monumental success it is today if Steve’s original vision of Apple building every app had played out. Continue reading


Things I Learned Working on the Twitter Platform

I was lucky enough to spend the last four years of my life working with an incredible team of people on the Twitter Platform. I joined Twitter in June of 2009, shortly after Alex Payne had launched and built the early community around the Twitter API. While my role initially entailed product and engineering management, I spent all four years focused on building an ecosystem of companies that created value for our users and our partners and that’s where I’ll focus these posts. It was my first time doing anything like it and I learned an incredible amount through trial and error. There were failures, triumphs, and great lessons learned along the way.

Continue reading


Help me raise $10,000 for charity: water for my 33rd birthday

[vimeo w=696]

Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.

This past Saturday I turned 33 and I want to celebrate my birthday differently this year. I want to raise $10,000 for charity: water to bring clean water to people who are in desperate need. If you want to know more about why charity: water and this problem matter so much, read on. Otherwise, it takes just two minutes to donate and you can do so by going here: Ryan’s 33rd Birthday Campaign

I was among a group of people fortunate enough to get to travel with the charity: water team to Tigray, Ethiopia earlier this year to see the incredible challenges that villages lacking clean water face every day. Clean water is fundamental to health, equality, dignity, productivity, and especially education. We got to see first hand how something as basic as a lack of clean water can deeply and negatively impact an entire community of people. The work falls to the young girls who then have to spend multiple hours a day walking to a dirty water source to fill up jerry cans and bring them back to their home. A full jerry can weighs 40lbs, which we struggled to carry even a few hundred feet. Additionally, those are hours they should instead be spent going to school. Sadly, even after all that work the water they are getting from natural sources is horribly dirty and diseased. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses. If you want to learn more about why clean water is such an important mission, you can read more on their Why Water? page.


We were also able to see the direct impact charity: water and their local partners have made by using our dollars and turning them into change for these incredible people. Charity: water is a special organization that I can’t say enough good things about. It’s run by amazing people with an incredible mission of bringing clean water to the 800 million people around the world lacking access to it. Their unique 100% model ensures that every dollar we donate goes directly to helping a village bring clean water to their people.

The money for this campaign will go towards the charity: water September campaign which is focused on helping bring clean water to villages in rural India. Watch the video at the top of this post to learn more about this special effort to raise $2 million dollars in order to bring clean water to 100 villages.

One of the most amazing parts of the charity: water model is that you see exactly how your money helps a local community. Once the funds are raised and deployed to a project, you will start to get regular updates that tell you where the project is happening, what community it is helping and status updates throughout the building of the project. It’s unique from any other charity that I have ever worked with and really help you see the tangible difference that your donation makes in a specific community.

I will personally be matching up to $5,000 dollars of donations. So every $100 dollars you donate will count as $200 towards our goal. We are all incredibly fortunate to live the lives that we do. Please help me in improving the lives of people half a world away by bringing them clean water.

So, in closing remember:

  1. Your money is going to India as part of the September Campaign. They’re raising $2 million to bring clean water to 100 villages in Orissa, India. Every $450 provides an entire household with three taps: one in their kitchen, toilet and bathing room.
  2. 100% of your money will fund clean water projects. Private donors pay for their operating costs so you don’t have to. 100% of every dollar you raise will fund water project costs and bring clean water where it’s needed most.
  3. You will see proof with photos and a map of the village you’re helping. It takes 18 months to complete the work, and you’ll get updates on the progress along the way. When your project is complete, you’ll receive a completion report that looks like this.

I’d love your support in helping change people’s lives.

Click here to donate and bring people the clean water they deserve.

You can see the rest of the pictures from our trip to Ethiopia here: