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5 Platform Businesses For The Next 5 Years

Apr. 02, 2021 6:41 PM ETETSY, FVRR, ROKU, SE, MELI, FTCH, UPWK35 Comments


  • The best platform businesses are proven to be able to extract market defying revenue growth, profits and returns.
  • The ability to consolidate and extend market leadership and keep out competitors are features that make these platforms worth owning.
  • With the recent pullback in a number of high growth platform businesses, a few emerge as candidates worthy of consideration for the next 5 years or more.
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The software platform is perhaps one of the most significant creators of investor value today.

What exactly is a platform? Simply put, a platform is an interface where separate groups of users come together to exchange

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This article was written by

Integrator profile picture

I am an investor who is focused on disruptive businesses that are transforming industries lead by visionary leaders with substantial skin in the game. I have spent nearly 20 years in a formal capacity in various investment banking and corporate advisory roles, having attained my MBA with a concentration in finance. This led me toward a path in Venture Capital and working with entrepreneurs building new technology businesses, and I have had the opportunity to not only invest in a number of amazing privately held businesses, but also play a meaningful role in growing several of these early stage enterprises as well. I am now focused on applying my lens of private market disruption and leveraging secular tail winds to the public markets. This was a journey which I started with my public Project $1M portfolio series and which I have deepened with my marketplace service, Sustainable Growth

Analyst’s Disclosure: I am/we are long GOOG, AMZN, FB, MELI, SE, FVRR, FTCH, ROKU, ETSY, TWLO, MKTX. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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Comments (35)

Gretchen, stop trying to make FTCH happen, it's NOT going to happen
Tyler Okland profile picture
I love all these platforms, perhaps with the exclusion of farfetch (the premier e-commerce plays grew revenues >100% in 2020, so 40% is underwhelming for me). My largest position is Etsy, and I think that company keeps crushing it.

That said, 80% of your recommendations are e-commerce. What do you think about Opendoor, SoFi, Teladoc, or Fastly? It would be great to hear your opinion on these super fast growing players outside of e-commerce. In particular I feel like Opendoor has the largest market opportunity, and at 10B market cap, could be another MELI long term.
Are the earnings ever going to justify the large market caps and enterprise values? In a reasonably short time? Or is a dog-eat-dog competition where nobody makes a significant profit?
TTD is an ultimate secular growth platform stock. Definitely better longer term than FTCH.
@Integrator I was late to the Etsy party, but I finally made it. SEA is my biggest non Bitcoin holding. Why do so many people like FVRR more than UPWK?
Integrator profile picture
@SilverBandit It's acquiring more market share at a faster rate. Each have slightly different positioning, Upwork the larger business, revenue wise, but Fiverr's value prop resonating better with the market (in my opinion). ETSY, SE, amazingly both still have very long runways ahead, in spite of where they have come.
Great article! Thanks I will start following you.
Surprised that I didn’t see SHOP on your list and don’t you consider PINS to be one of the growing platforms?
Integrator profile picture
@Billandgayle Hi!, No doubt there are many other platforms worthy of consideration, SHOP and PINS certainly amongst those.
@Billandgayle great suggestions with SHOP and PINS. Surprised however that you also didn’t mention UPWK and don’t you consider OPEN to be one of the growing platforms?
cdgingrich profile picture
The "platform" idea is a great way of looking at businesses. Long TWLO, FTCH, SE. Thank you!
Integrator profile picture
@cdgingrich Thank you, helps provide a framework for me to think through and watch for what businesses may be successful and what to monitor along the way!
HardytheTrader profile picture
Great companies, thanks for covering them once again

Long $ETSY, $SE, $FTCH
I like the concept of a platform very much but I like the concept of a moat even more. I dont see why amazon, ebay or other ecommerce players cant encroach on etsy. Roku is up against Amazon and google in their space, I dont like those odds even if they hav a lead today. Sea is facing lots of competition, and the gaming part of their business which is cash cow can b fickle. I like fiverr but I like upwork even more. Could Farfetch b the next LVMH,not sure yet.
Integrator profile picture
@Austin Jolal At some level, even the best businessess can't do everything for everyone. Market knowledge, focus, customer engagement are all factors that come into building a moat. AMZN has tried to unseat MELI in latin america for the last 10 years. It has not succeeded. There's an element of local knowledge and network effects that have gone into building their moat. I'd argue similar for SEA as well. Its difficult, but possible to see a moat in the making. Much easier to point to one in hindsight.
Thanks for the article. Own 4 of those names already in my Roth, and am putting FTCH on my watch list
Integrator profile picture
@clrodrick Excellent! I hope the businesses serve us both well over time!
I've been following you for close to 5 years now and have liked your approach. I am wondering what you think of Jumia, with many parallels to Sea and Mercadolibre.
Integrator profile picture
@nelson15 Thanks 🙏. I appreciate that. Jumia is a business going through some transition, and is a little rough around the edges. Sea and Melis network effects are moving into high gear and clearly evident. Jumia less so, but one I am watching.
@Integrator I would think SEA or Mercadolibre could walk in and take Africa at anytime. Can’t see Jumia defending it or being able to takeover Asia or South America.
Integrator profile picture
@Kirby Muxloe JMIA have built something interesting in the logistics network in country, which won't necessarily be easy for a new entrant to replicate. Not a fan of their senior management all being in the EU. It's my firm view that local knowledge and on the ground presence is important to succeed in foreign markets. I'm sure BABA's Lazada team would agree if asked, its part of the reason SE has been able to make the inroads that they have in SE Asia.
How long will the fab-five platform companies sustain, exist, or fade away ?
Integrator profile picture
@manfac Great question. Core platform strengths should continue to sustain their growth for some time to come, however no doubt it will slow given their size. That’s why it may pay to look for the next great platforms!
@Integrator any in mind ?
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