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A Summary of

Hidden Networks: Network Effects That Don’t Look Like Network Effects

by
D'Arcy Coolican
a16z
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Hidden networks, networks that don’t appear to have network effects but do, have an advantage over their competitors. Types of hidden networks:

Slow networks

  • These have a longer time horizon until the network reaches a critical mass, when it then grows quickly.
  • These often have long product loops or insufficient saturation.

Unfinished networks

  • The product feature or a strategic decision leaves the network temporarily incomplete in some material way.
  • The emergent behavior of users is primarily on the incomplete side of the network.

Throttled network

  • The product feature, or a strategic decision, limits the size or engagement of the network.
  • There are positive or neutral effects, when one or more of these constraints are relaxed.

Latent network

  • Companies build a network before they build the actual product or tool
  • The networks users are engaged primarily with just the central node While hidden networks have their own challenges, being "hidden" can be an advantage to an entrepreneur hoping to reach critical mass before their competitors.
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