The Power of Networks: Unveiling Uber's Intentional Network Effects and Breaking Down VFX Techniques


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 30, 2023

4 min read


The Power of Networks: Unveiling Uber's Intentional Network Effects and Breaking Down VFX Techniques


In the ever-evolving internet age, network effects have proven to be one of the most effective forms of defensibility for businesses. However, it is crucial to understand the vulnerabilities and limitations of these network effects in order to truly harness their power. This article will delve into the intentional network effects of Uber and explore how these effects are vulnerable. Additionally, we will uncover the various techniques used in the visual effects (VFX) industry and analyze how they contribute to creating impossible visuals on screen.

Unveiling Uber's Intentional Network Effects:

Uber, the ride-hailing giant, heavily relies on network effects to establish its dominance in the market. However, upon closer examination, we can see that Uber's core network effects are deceptively weak. The company's network effect is believed to have five stages, each leading to the next: driver supply, lower wait times and fares, more riders, more riders per hour, and more drivers. The flaw in Uber's network effect lies in the transition from stage 1 to stage 2. Increased driver supply is expected to lead to lower wait times, but the concept breaks down as wait times cannot go below zero. Additionally, the utility perspective of reducing wait times from 0 to a nominal 3 or 4 minutes is minimal. This results in diminishing returns for increasing driver supply beyond a certain point and makes Uber's core business vulnerable to new entrants.

Barriers to Entry and Uber's Reinforcement Strategy:

The relatively low barriers to entry in the ridesharing industry make it challenging for Uber to establish a significant supply-side advantage with their network effect. To combat this, Uber has employed a reinforcement strategy to enhance its defensibility. The company leverages its large network to roll out new defensibilities, such as brand scale embedding, language network effects, and the creation of true two-sided and three-sided marketplaces.

Uber Freight, a true two-sided logistics marketplace, connects businesses in need of transportation with available trucks. Unlike the driver-rider network effect, there is no lower asymptotic limit for trucks, making this marketplace more powerful. Furthermore, Uber Eats, a three-sided marketplace, brings together drivers, restaurants, and users to create a network effect that expands its reach. However, multi-tenanting on the supply side poses a challenge as many restaurants list on other food-delivery apps as well.

Unique Insights and Ideas:

In the digital age, proprietary tech advantages have a short half-life and are not as defensible. However, products with personal utility network effects, such as Uber Commute, have the potential to be highly defensible. Uber Commute is a carpooling service that, although limited to Uber's India market, provides a direct network with personal utility to each user. If this service achieves significant scale, it could revolutionize the industry.

Breaking Down VFX Techniques:

Visual effects (VFX) play a crucial role in the film industry, allowing filmmakers to create, manipulate, and enhance imagery that goes beyond what can be achieved during live-action shooting. There are three main types of VFX techniques: CGI, compositing, and motion capture. CGI involves creating imagery entirely within computers, while compositing combines live-action footage with computer-generated elements. Motion capture technology captures the movements of actors and transfers them to digital characters.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Focus on defensibility: Just like Uber, businesses should prioritize developing defensible strategies to ward off competition. Identifying and leveraging network effects can be a powerful tool in establishing market dominance.
  • 2. Use capital as a competitive weapon: Uber's success lies, in part, in its ability to use its significant capital reserves to reinforce its defensibility. Startups should be aggressive and strategic in utilizing their capital to gain a competitive edge.
  • 3. Understand the importance of language and naming: Uber's choice of the name "Uber," meaning "topmost" or "superior," was a smart move that helped establish its brand identity. Founders should recognize the impact of language and naming when building their businesses.


By understanding the vulnerabilities and limitations of network effects, businesses can better navigate the competitive landscape. Uber's intentional network effects have paved the way for its dominance, despite the inherent weaknesses. Additionally, the VFX industry continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on screen, creating visual spectacles that captivate audiences worldwide. By embracing defensibility, leveraging capital, and recognizing the power of language and naming, entrepreneurs can strive to create the impossible and leave a lasting impact in their respective industries.

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