Asia has emerged as a major area of growth for enterprises that harness platform business models. Globally, Asia is second only to North America in generating large successful platform companies. The growing significance of platform companies is perhaps inevitable, given the size and scale of Asia in the global economy, a large and growing middle class, rapidly growing internet usage and a knack for quickly trying and adapting new business models. Platforms such as Tencent, Alibaba, Naver, Flipkart and Garena — to name but a few — are becoming important vehicles to efficiently provide services to the region’s large and growing middle class as it embraces digital technology. As in other parts of the world, Asian platform companies leverage digital infrastructure to facilitate the creation of interactive ecosystems that enhance the efficiency of aggregation, matching, exchange and innovation. Through increasingly sophisticated networks, recommendation engines and online-offline linkages, platform companies are both benefiting from and enabling consumers and businesses to find and purchase goods, get rides, find accommodations, book travel, access media, make payments, locate jobs, find mates and much more.
This report provides an overview of the most significant platform enterprises operating in Asia today. While Asian markets remain far from integrated, there are advantages in taking a broad regional approach that includes Northeast Asia, China, Southeast Asia and India. There are important linkages between many of the platforms based in the region. There are investment linkages, such as the early-stage funding and cross-shareholding that has occurred between Japanese and Chinese platform companies; Chinese platforms and Southeast Asian and Indian platforms; as well as Korean companies and Japanese platform companies. There are also tacit exchanges of knowledge at conferences and seminars such as the management know-how about designing and governing the unique aspects of the platforms. A regional view also provides insight into the relative scale of these companies and how one subregion compares to another.