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BUS 82 — Building, Scaling, and Managing Digital Marketplaces

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Jan 25—Mar 14
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 27
Unit: 1
Tuition: $610
Instructor(s): Rob Mihalko
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jan 25—Mar 14
8 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 27
1 Unit
Rob Mihalko
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The digital marketplace has become one of the most important models in business today, transforming numerous industries, such as vacation travel (Airbnb) and collectibles (eBay), and serving as a driver of growth for the global economy by enabling companies such as Amazon, Uber, and DoorDash to achieve unprecedented levels of success. A digital marketplace can exist either as a stand-alone business or as a complement to a traditional business and has seen success in both consumer and business markets. However, building and profitably growing one is notoriously difficult.

In the early stages, many marketplace businesses have difficulty gaining critical mass, establishing a compelling value proposition for all of their participants, or monetizing without negatively impacting growth. For example, how does a digital marketplace attract buyers with few sellers, or vice versa? How does it generate sufficient activity to keep its participants engaged? And who should pay for its offerings: buyers, sellers, or both?

When digital marketplaces do figure out the keys to the early stages, the growth phase brings on a whole new set of challenges. For example, how does a digital marketplace build an efficient growth engine? What operational investments will have the most leverage? How does it respond to an increasing set of competitors?

This course is for entrepreneurs, product managers, strategic planners, investors, and anyone looking to increase their understanding of the basic concepts of digital marketplaces: marketplace strategy and design, launch strategies, monetization, growth levers, operations and scalability, policies and governance, stakeholder management, and ethical considerations. In-class activities include case studies, interactive exercises, guest speakers, and exploring the leading thought leadership related to this increasingly dynamic business topic.

Founder and Principal, Spectus Strategy

Rob Mihalko is a strategy and marketing executive with more than 15 years of management experience with digital marketplaces. He advises marketplace businesses in the areas of strategy and growth, supports venture capital investments, and speaks on a range of current topics related to digital marketplaces. He served as general manager and led growth for several marketplace businesses, including Ariba Network as a global vice president at SAP Ariba. Mihalko received an MBA from Northwestern.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Sangeet Paul Choudary , Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy―and How to Make Them Work for You (ISBN 978-0393354355)
(Required) Juho Makkonen, Cristóbal Gracia, & Janne Koivistoinen , The Lean Marketplace: a Practical Guide to Building a Successful Online Marketplace Business (ISBN 978-9529400089)
(Required) Brad Stone, The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World (ISBN 978-0316388412)