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Last updated:  
May 9, 2018

The Ecosystem Multiverse: You live in many worlds

Wilfried Rijsemus

In my current engagements, I have the good fortune to talk to really bright people and they inspire me to translate our exchanges into foundational ideas that drive our work.

In previous posts, I already mentioned the quite straight-forward logic of the investor world. An investor has a choice that is similar to a choice that you would make. Do I invest my money in a company with 5% yield or with 10% yield? The answer is simple. This leads to a "global arms race" of companies that need to deliver the promised investor yield. That can either be via the stock exchange or private equity. All the time companies are growing or declining.

Imagine the whole system if we were to visualize it like soap bubbles. One bubble grows at the expense of the other bubble and it is all quite dynamic. Companies that grow have a few ways to that:

  • grow organically - without help, which is usually slow and not worth the wait too many investors
  • acquire companies - this comes with a huge integration challenge
  • develop an ecosystem
  • do all of the above ;-)


An ecosystem comprises of a core (which is your property) + high-value capabilities delivered by partners and consumed by customers that you were able to attract. We all know of ecosystems like Facebook, Google, Android, Apple. Now we see more and more companies realizing that a good way to satisfy the investor and stay in business is to

  • Attract an audience (your community)
  • Deliver your core value (free or priced or both) and
  • Organize to deliver additional high value

This value, be it a platform or a core activity, can be delivered by a partner or yourself. The key is to make sure your community trusts you and stays with you. Interestingly, attracting an audience and engaging with them then becomes part of your core company strategies. So, if you are already sitting on an audience, you have a head start over those that need to develop that.


The multiverse is, of course, the brainchild of the recently deceased, great, Stephen Hawking and probably a few other people like Kip Thorne. It assumes that next to our universe that we know, there are infinite other universes that can best be visualized again with soap bubbles.

Let's suppose that your Ecosystem is your Universe. Next to you, there is another Universe. People may subscribe to your Universe and that of your neighbour because of one reason: There is something there that satisfies their need and not only that. They will 'invest' their time, money and effort in you EXACTLY the same way as the investor is looking at you. Maximizing value! If you fail to maximize value, your bubble will shrink and may even disappear.

The Ecosystem is here to stay as it is the quickest way to maximize value. There is however a limit to how many Ecosystems a person or company is willing to subscribe to. Just think of your own backyard. If you find value in Facebook, you will probably not join Instagram. If Apple is your thing, you won't need Android. We already live in consumer ecosystems. Gradually business will make those choices and select the best ecosystems to get the highest value. It is up to you to choose to develop your own ecosystem and to partner in one.

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