The vast majority of the biggest companies in the world were early movers in early days of “platform” shifts. A platform shift is some kind tectonic transformation in the business landscape. Much of the time these shifts are based on technological discoveries or advancements. Some recent examples of tectonic shifts include the PC, internet, GPS, GPUs, smart phones, open source software, and cloud computing. These platform shifts have given birth to the multi-billion dollar businesses which exist today.
The platform shift enables previously impossible business models or user experiences.* For the aspiring entrepreneur, these shifts create fertile grounds for breakthrough innovations that can develop into enormous companies. Sequoia, the premier VC firm, likes to ask “Why now?” A tectonic shift in the environment is often the best answer. Great entrepreneurs sense platform shifts coming and create companies to capitalize on the opportunities.
* Other soft examples of platform shifts might be changes government regulation, macro-economic events, or even pop culture.