I disagree with this article.
The value chain for any given consumer market is divided into three parts: suppliers, distributors, and consumers/users.
This is simply untrue. The value chain for any given consumer market has, in economic terms, always been suppliers and consumers. "Distributors" was always seen as a parasitic aspect of the supply chain which is why the first thing anybody jumps for is monopoly. The original Amazon, Sears, Roebuck & Co, used a government service (the mail) to bypass distributors (general stores) and deliver its products directly to consumers. The A&P antitrust case was about vertical integration. everyone's beef with Amazon is they provide a marketplace to play Thunderdome with products and then come out with their own version.
This is one reason why "distributors" have been allowed to flourish in the marketplace: they're agnostic. Unless your distributor has an exclusive monopoly on your product, that distributor allows different suppliers to compete for consumers. Said distributors then profit off the top, but the less profit they make the more competitive their products. Therefore they have a compelling economic reason to economize. Eventually supply goes to shit - prices are rising across all markets because shipping has become such a shitty job nobody wants to do it anymore - and the market adjusts.
The principle thing modern commerce has done is disintermediate traditional suppliers and replace them with monopolies who leverage the first-to-market advantage. Let's look at Ben's examples:
Google - charged for ads on their search engine, which was better than everyone else's search engine, and used their proceeds to buy up everyone else's ad network. They now own 78% of online search ads.
Facebook - charged for ads on their social network, which was better than everyone else's social network, and used their proceeds to buy up everyone else's social network. Facebook has dropped form 75% to 66% in the past year principally by being a total asshole.
Amazon - sold at a loss for long enough to drive out entire sectors of retail until they were the only online sales platform of note, then used their proceeds to buy up everyone else's online sales platform. Amazon has 70% of online sales.
netflix - sold at a loss for long enough to drive out everyone else in the rental business until they were the only rental business, then used their proceeds to move against all of broadcast. Netflix is now 15% of all internet traffic and have been the largest broadcaster in the US for three years.
Snapchat - Uhhh. Well, Snapchat is Instagram without being Facebook, and the only reason Instagram exists is because Yahoo sucked so hard at keeping Flickr alive.
Here's the thing:
By extension, this means that the most important factor determining success is the user experience: the best distributors/aggregators/market-makers win by providing the best experience, which earns them the most consumers/users, which attracts the most suppliers, which enhances the user experience in a virtuous cycle.
Amazon sucks at search. Their UI is garbage. Facebook is a miasma of crap you don't care about. Google's entire business model is predicated on the opposite of what Google does. It isn't entirely about user experience, it's largely about the ability to choke everyone else out.
The old economy was find an obstacle between producers and consumers and build a toll bridge between them. The new economy is to expend epic amounts of capital filling in the crevasse and then make the people climbing between one side and the other carry crumbs for you.
When the Bolsheviks threw over the Tsar they didn't replace an oligarchy with a commune. They replaced an oligarchy with another oligarchy. The new economy is the old economy except investors are piling all their coins into attempts to throw over the tsar so they can join the nomenklatura. And the people who are pretending that any of this is somehow new are basically looking for an excuse to not feel bad about shafting everyone else in the process.