Come for the tool, stay for the network 

The idea is to initially attract users with a single-player tool and then, over time, get them to participate in a network. The tool helps get to initial critical mass. The network creates the long term value for users, and defensibility for the company. —  Chris Dixon


  • 65% of  Instagram  users after 6 months of its successful launch didn't follow others. They came for the tool — an easy and free way to apply filters to photos. However, 8 years afterwards, 82% of photos were taken without filters. 
  • Related: From the beginning, you could share the photos on Instagram, besides other social networks. Initially, users mainly cared about sharing them on other social networks — but  When Instagram users shared photos on other social media platforms, Instagram included a link.


  • Tool: reservation management system for restaurants — in 1998 guests tracking was manual (pen & paper) 
  • Network: when they had many restaurants, they allowed customers book a table directly 


  • Tool: sync files between computers 
  • Network: Shared folders 

Google Photos 

  • Tool: Store all your photos — not just what you share 
  • Network: Shared photo albums 


  • Users initially came to  Yelp  for addresses and phone numbers of local businesses and stayed because of the photos and reviews which their networked created. 


  • People initially came to games such as  Minecraft  for its single-player mode and stays for its multi-player mode. 


  • Tool: source of truth 
  • Network: developers 
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