The final stage of the framework focuses on using network effects to fend off competitors, which is often the focus as the network and product matures.
While it is not the only moat—brand, technology, partnerships, and others can help—it is one of the most important ones in the technology sector.
This dynamic drives a unique form of rivalry—“Network-based competition”—that isn’t just about better features or execution, but about how one product’s ecosystem might challenge another’s. Airbnb faced this problem in Europe when a strong, local competitor called Wimdu emerged with a boatload in funding, hundreds of employees, and on paper, more traction in its home market. Airbnb had to fight off its European competitor by competing on the quality of the network, and scaling its network effects—not via traditional competitive vectors like pricing or features.