The Power of Starting Conditions and User Behavior: Lessons from Winners and Facebook Marketplace


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 22, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Starting Conditions and User Behavior: Lessons from Winners and Facebook Marketplace


In the world of business and success, there is a recurring phenomenon known as cumulative advantage or the Matthew effect. This concept explains how individuals who begin with an initial advantage over others are more likely to maintain that advantage over time. While some might dismiss this as luck, it actually highlights the importance of starting conditions and the impact they have on long-term outcomes. This article will delve into the fascinating idea of winners keep winning and explore how it applies to both personal success and the growth of Facebook Marketplace.

The Importance of Starting Conditions:

When examining the concept of winners keep winning, it becomes evident that initial conditions play a significant role. In an interesting experiment, it was shown that a mere 20% initial advantage can lead to a substantial increase in final market share. This simulation highlights the crucial role of starting conditions in determining long-term outcomes. However, it's essential to note that real-life situations are not purely random. Our efforts and actions can influence and change the way the marbles of opportunity are picked. Talent alone is not enough; effort is required to seize and make the most of favorable starting conditions.

Embracing Luck and Effort:

Accepting luck as a primary determinant in our lives can be liberating. Recognizing the magnitude of happenstance and serendipity allows us to shift our focus from judging ourselves solely on outcomes and instead concentrate on our efforts. Effort is the only aspect that we can control completely. By acknowledging the role of luck and effort, we can avoid pedestal syndrome when faced with good luck and prevent bad luck from knocking us down. While some are born with more advantages than others, the key is to never let that define how hard we try.

The Inside Story of Facebook Marketplace:

Facebook Marketplace, five years after its launch, has surpassed the monthly active users of Snapchat and Twitter combined. This success can be attributed to understanding user behavior and capitalizing on unexplored markets. In many countries, Facebook became a common platform for buying and selling, with more than half of people participating in these activities. However, Western markets initially overlooked this trend, which proved to be a blind spot.

Understanding User Behavior:

One crucial insight that contributed to Facebook Marketplace's growth was recognizing the significance of kids generating a surplus of used goods, many of which are expensive to buy new. Additionally, the platform provided a meaningful space for commerce in various Asian regions. By paying attention to user behavior and unique circumstances, Facebook was able to tap into this market and facilitate buying and selling through groups.

Key Strategies for Success on Facebook Marketplace:

  • 1. Focusing on Trust: Building trust was essential for success, particularly in face-to-face transactions. Facebook Marketplace leveraged the advantage of showing real identities and the duration of users' presence on the platform, creating a sense of security that anonymous platforms lacked. Verifying the person's identity through their real profile significantly increased trust.
  • 2. Integrating with Messenger: Seamless communication through Facebook Messenger accelerated transactions. Features like pinning locations or easily sending deposits made the buying and selling process more convenient. By leveraging Messenger, Facebook Marketplace enhanced the overall experience for users.
  • 3. Leveraging the Groups Community: The concept of people-powered commerce, buying from neighbors, and reducing waste was ingrained in the ethos of Facebook Marketplace. Mutual friends and long-term Facebook activity provided confidence to users when seeking roommates or buying cars. Trust played a pivotal role in these interactions.

Lessons Learned from Facebook Marketplace:

  • 1. Follow the Data: By closely analyzing user data and feedback, Facebook Marketplace was able to iterate and evolve into a product that met users' needs. Constantly monitoring and adapting to user behavior is crucial for success.
  • 2. Device Matters: Recognizing the need to cater to different user preferences, Facebook Marketplace expanded to include a desktop version. This allowed for more significant purchases and facilitated listing for high-volume sellers. Offering a desktop experience increased efficiency and broadened the platform's appeal.
  • 3. Navigating Scaling: To address violations and measure transaction reliability, Facebook Marketplace encouraged buyers and sellers to report transactions through incentivized ratings and reviews. This approach helped maintain trust and integrity within the platform as it scaled.


The concept of winners keep winning applies not only to personal success but also to the growth and success of platforms like Facebook Marketplace. Understanding the impact of starting conditions and user behavior can shape strategies for success. By embracing luck, focusing on effort, and leveraging unique insights, individuals and businesses can increase their chances of maintaining and building upon initial advantages. In the case of Facebook Marketplace, prioritizing trust, integrating with Messenger, and leveraging the power of community were key drivers of its success. By following the data, adapting to user preferences, and navigating scaling challenges, Facebook Marketplace became a dominant force in the online commerce space.

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