Platform Economy Image: A group of people stare at their cell phones.

The platform economy is the name for economic and social activity made possible by online platforms.

The 21st century has seen a huge rise in technological innovations and a shift to online exchange.  Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, and DoorDash are all examples of companies that operate platforms and facilitate their services using digital frameworks.

The platform economy has shifted many services previously offered at brick-and-mortar stores to online commerce. Take for example video rentals—previously the domain of companies like Blockbuster—which are now almost entirely done via streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, or taxi businesses which must now compete with algorithm-based applications like Lyft.

This massive shift in the way people access services and exchange information has had profound consequences on the economy. The corporations behind these apps worth billions of dollars in the US alone, and they have an outsized influence on the way people live and work, with very little oversight.