What are Platforms?

By definition, platform has two meanings. First, it is a declaration and documentation of a point of view, for example a political party’s platform. Second, it’s a physical base structure that can hold people, things and be built upon. This second meaning of platform has evolved in the digital era to be technology-based, with the most successful companies creating a digital space that can hold people and be built upon.  

Historically, brands have thought about themselves as the first definition, a declaration of who they are and what they stand for, a one to many conversation that worked well in the world of broadcast media.  However, in the age of digital transformation, brands need to shift their thinking and become a foundation for the ecosystem that surrounds them, allowing for connection and growth through the brand. No longer will it be enough for a brand’s two-way conversation to exist only via responding on social media. Brands must invite their consumers in, creating a physical or digital space that can drive connections among all - a many to many conversation - a platform.

Platforms are at the core of successful digital transformation. They enable more fluid connections and relationships within existing ecosystems, i.e. marketplaces or networks. The best platforms ease friction, and result in driving growth within these ecosystems by elevating the value of each party.


John Winsor is a leading thinker, advisor and entrepreneur building platforms in the marketing, media and innovation industries. He is known for his strategic marketing and product innovation work based on collaboration, co-creation, open innovation and crowdsourcing. Today, he spends his time helping leaders make the transition from closed to open systems. To take his thinking forward he has founded a new company, Speakeasy Guild, a talent API for the media and marketing worlds. He is also the Chairman of Victors & Spoils, the world’s first creative advertising agency built on crowdsourcing principles and, in 2011, a business named to Advertising Age’s “Agency A-List 10 to Watch” list and Mashable’s Top 5 Digital Agencies. In 2009 he sold majority ownership of Victors & Spoils to Havas becoming their global Chief Innovation Officer, working with David Jones to reinvent a global holding company through open principles.

Before founding Victors & Spoils, Winsor was Vice President and Executive Director of Strategy and Innovation at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, helping the company become the most awarded advertising agency in the world in 2008 and 2009. He brought his co-creation philosophy to the agency that formed the underpinning of the agency’s strategy practice that fueled work such as, Dominos, “Transparency,” Best Buy’s “Twelpforce, “Microsoft’s “I’m a PC” and Vail’s “Epic Mix.”’

Prior to CPB, he founded the world’s first company based on co-creation, Radar Communications, in 1998 – with Nike as its first client – and sold it to CP+B in 2007. At Radar, Winsor used co-creation, strategy and academic-based market intelligence tools to help some of the country's most progressive companies learn from key voices in their communities.

Winsor was a journalist before founding Radar, building a magazine publishing company devoted to sports that included mountain biking, in-line skating and extreme skiing. In 1990, he acquired the rights to publish a then-struggling magazine, Women's Sports & Fitness. Within three years, he turned that magazine around and launched several other highly profitable titles and events, including The Gravity Games. He sold the business to Conde Nast in 1998.

Winsor is a frequent industry speaker and respected author. He has been featured in two Harvard Business School case studies on starting an “open” company and how an “open” company can effect the trajectory of a larger closed system in Havas.

His books include “Beyond the Brand: Why Engaging the Right Customers is Essential to Winning in Business,” where he coined the term co-creation, “Spark: Be more Innovative through Co-Creation,” “Baked In: Creating Products and Businesses That Market Themselves” (with Alex Bogusky) and “Flipped: How Bottom-Up Co-Creation is Replacing Top-Down Innovation.” Baked In, a bestseller, was named an award winner in the marketing category for the 2009 800-CEO-Read Business Book Awards.  

Throughout his career Winsor has been deeply involved in the start-up and technology communities. He was a founding investor in Nau, the sustainable clothing company and has been on the board of directors of Black Diamond Equipment and Sovrn.

Outside of work he pursues his passions of climbing, skiing, cycling and surfing. Among his accomplishments, he set the world record for the ascent and round-trip of Kilimanjaro. Winsor earned a bachelor’s degree from Colorado College and an MBA from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.



John Winsor is a best-selling author and a leading strategic marketing and product innovation thinker known for his breakthrough work in collaboration, co-creation, market networks, crowdsourcing and open innovation.

Winsor is the founder of Victors & Spoils, the world's first creative advertising agency built on crowdsourcing principles. Winsor's practical experience building companies in industries that are being radically transformed by technology from a closed business model to a new, open business model helps his audiences be inspired to come up with their own breakthrough strategies. Organizations are enabled to flip their own marketing paradigms from Brand Out to Consumer In, taking advantage of the digitally connected world powered by social media. His books include: Beyond the Brand: Why Engaging the Right Customers Is Essential to Winning in Business; Spark: Be More Innovative Through Co-Creation; Baked In: Creating Products and Businesses That Market Themselves; Flipped: How Bottom-Up Co-Creation Is Replacing Top-Down Innovation. Baked In, a bestseller, was named an award winner in the marketing category for the 2009 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards.

John Winsor is represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau

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