Solving the Problem of Abundance: Venture Capital and the Rise of the Platform Economy

Peters, Nils. 2023. Solving the Problem of Abundance: Venture Capital and the Rise of the Platform Economy. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

What can be revealed about the power of platforms when we take their financial underpinnings seriously? This thesis makes the case to study the rise of the platform economy through the eyes of its financiers: the venture capital industry. Diverging from a reading of finance as solving funding problems for the platform economy, I argue that platforms serve as the solution to a financial problem. This is informed by 21 interviews I conducted with early-stage venture capital investors in London and document analysis of government and industry publications. Venture capital is primarily concerned with solving the problem of abundance, that is, the concentration of large amounts of capital among investors. In the search for durable asset appreciation, venture capital inscribes the logic of abundance in the platform economy, which investors favour for its ability to productively absorb torrents of capital. From this perspective, I challenge common conceptions of the platform economy as rentiers, and high valuations as a demonstration of strength. This thesis makes an empirical contribution by identifying historical linkages between early venture capital investing, institutional changes in the US in the 1960s and 1970s, in the UK in the 1990s and 2000s, and today’s platform economy. Further, my primary data collection in form of interviews enriches our understanding of intraelite struggles within the VC industry, the making of platforms and their valuations. This thesis makes a conceptual contribution through a novel theoretical synthesis of the concepts of the asset economy and assetisation. I develop the concept of the ‘asset infrastructure’ to situate my empirical contribution. This analytical framework reveals the consistent importance of asset appreciation for the genesis of venture capital and platforms.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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venture capital, platforms, asset economy, assetization

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30 September 2023

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Date Deposited:

26 Oct 2023 13:34

Last Modified:

26 Oct 2023 13:44


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