What if … businesses become so reliant on the mega platforms that they lose their independence?

“Global Marketplace”, the View from Eurasia

I started my business in 2022. I‘d yearned to be my own boss, and when I had my second child, it was not economic to return to work. I saw a gap in the market for modest but flattering and stylish women’s swimwear. With a loan from my mother’s family, I employed three women in my garage, and more who did piece work at home. We sold through a shopfront on Global Marketplace (GoMo). Within six months, I had more orders than we could fulfill.

I needed to expand so I went to the bank with my order book and accounts. They demanded my husband’s accounts and a guarantee on our home. They kept asking for more information, more guarantees. In the end, they refused me anyway! I was despairing. Then an email popped into my inbox. It was from GoMo.

They’d noticed I had a “significant fulfillment opportunity”, and offered a line of credit and working capital at a low rate. They hold my order book and know all my suppliers, who are also with them. I use their Budget-Buddy service to pay my staff. I even buy much of my personal groceries from GoMo. They know my finances and the content of my professional database better than I do! So of course I said yes. Now I employ thirty women. We sell our swimsuits across the region and meet a growing demand for modest swimwear that isn’t available anywhere else.

But ... while GoMo allowed me to fulfill my dream I feel it is now running my business. It keeps pushing faster expansion than I want, and mysteriously favours some retailers and suppliers over others. I don’t have a good feeling about that. Next time it could be me they don’t push, and then what would I do? Would they even listen to me?

I have the know-how and I take the financial risk. But while I’m transparent to GoMo, they are opaque me. They hold all the cards. I’m grateful for everything they’ve done, but I feel like an employee again. Except this time, I can’t change platforms as easily as I could change my job. Life is good now, but who knows what’s around the corner?

This story shows us how the Internet might evolve. But the path we take is up to us.

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