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A Price Theory of Multi-sided Platforms

  • E. Glen Weyl

I develop a general theory of monopoly pricing of networks. Platforms use insulating tariffs to avoid coordination failure, implementing any desired allocation. Profit maximization distorts in the spirit of A. Michael Spence (1975) by internalizing only network externalities to marginal users. Thus the empirical and prescriptive content of the popular Jean-Charles Rochet and Jean Tirole (2006) model of two-sided markets turns on the nature of user heterogeneity. I propose a more plausible, yet equally tractable, model of heterogeneity in which users differ in their income or scale. My approach provides a general measure of market power and helps predict the effect of price regulation and mergers. (JEL D42, D85, L14)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1642-72

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:4:p:1642-72
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1642
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  1. Elena Argentesi & Lapo Filistrucchi, 2005. "Estimating market power in a two-sided market: the case of newspapers," Economics Working Papers ECO2005/07, European University Institute.
  2. Nevo, Aviv, 1998. "Identification of the oligopoly solution concept in a differentiated-products industry," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 391-395, June.
  3. Steven T. Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 1999. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency in Radio Broadcasting," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(3), pages 397-420, Autumn.
  4. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-77, November.
  5. Farrell, Joseph & Shapiro, Carl, 2008. "Antitrust Evaluation of Horizontal Mergers: An Economic Alternative to Market Definition," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt8z51b1q8, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. Marc Rysman, 2004. "Competition Between Networks: A Study of the Market for Yellow Pages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 483-512.
  7. Church, Jeffrey & Gandal, Neil, 1992. "Network Effects, Software Provision, and Standardization," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 85-103, March.
  8. Glenn Ellison & Drew Fudenberg, 2003. "Knife-Edge or Plateau: When do Market Models Tip?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000098, David K. Levine.
  9. Kaiser, Ulrich & Wright, Julian, 2006. "Price structure in two-sided markets: Evidence from the magazine industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-28, January.
  10. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Tirole, Jean, 2005. "Two-Sided Markets : A Progress Report," IDEI Working Papers 275, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  11. Bengt Holmstrom, 1981. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Discussion Papers 471, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  12. Andrei Hagiu, 2009. "Two-Sided Platforms: Product Variety and Pricing Structures," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 1011-1043, December.
  13. Ilya Segal, 1999. "Contracting with Externalities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 337-388.
  14. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:668-691 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Gaudeul, Alexandre & Jullien, Bruno, 2005. "E-Commerce, Two-Sided Markets and Info-Mediation," IDEI Working Papers 380, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  16. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1993. "A Simple Theory of Advertising as a Good or Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(4), pages 941-964.
  17. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, December.
  18. Bresnahan, Timothy F., 1982. "The oligopoly solution concept is identified," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 10(1-2), pages 87-92.
  19. David Besanko & Shabtai Donnenfeld & Lawrence J. White, 1987. "Monopoly and Quality Distortion: Effects and Remedies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 743-767.
  20. Ying Fan, 2013. "Ownership Consolidation and Product Characteristics: A Study of the US Daily Newspaper Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1598-1628, August.
  21. S. J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 1994. "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 133-150, Spring.
  22. Weyl, E. Glen, 2009. "Monopoly, Ramsey and Lindahl in Rochet and Tirole (2003)," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 99-100, May.
  23. Robin S. Lee, 2013. "Vertical Integration and Exclusivity in Platform and Two-Sided Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2960-3000, December.
  24. Choi, Jay & Kim, Byung-Cheol, 2008. "Net Neutrality and Investment Incentives," Working Paper Series 4010, Victoria University of Wellington, The New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation.
  25. Wright, Julian, 2001. "The Determinants of Optimal Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Working Papers 176, Department of Economics, The University of Auckland.
  26. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. Simon P. Anderson & Stephen Coate, 2003. "Market Provision of Broadcasting: A Welfare Analysis," Virginia Economics Online Papers 358, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  28. Kaiser, Ulrich & Song, Minjae, 2009. "Do media consumers really dislike advertising? An empirical assessment of the role of advertising in print media markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 292-301, March.
  29. Alexander White & E. Glen Weyl, 2010. "Imperfect Platform Competition: A General Framework," Working Papers 10-17, NET Institute, revised Nov 2010.
  30. Hagiu Andrei, 2007. "Merchant or Two-Sided Platform?," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-19, June.
  31. O'Keeffe, Mary & Viscusi, W Kip & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1984. "Economic Contests: Comparative Reward Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 27-56, January.
  32. Avner Shaked & John Sutton, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition Through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13.
  33. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 35-71, 01.
  34. Caillaud, Bernard & Jullien, Bruno, 2003. " Chicken & Egg: Competition among Intermediation Service Providers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(2), pages 309-28, Summer.
  35. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:720-737 is not listed on IDEAS
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