Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

Most of the largest venture funded technology companies all have exactly the same marketing plan to get big.

Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish.

From wikipedia:

  1. Embrace: Development of software substantially compatible with a competing product, or implementing a public standard.
  2. Extend: Addition and promotion of features not supported by the competing product or part of the standard, creating interoperability problems for customers who try to use the “simple” standard.
  3. Extinguish: When extensions become a de facto standard because of their dominant market share, they marginalize competitors that do not or cannot support the new extensions.

Microsoft popularized it in their internal strategy meetings and it was only released to the public by the U.S. Department of Justice during one of their anti-trust suits.

The plan is effective and genius.


Embrace is where you get good will and your initial customers.

Implement a public standard. Offer something at no cost. Offer something for a cost at no profit if it’s a physical item or service.

Amazon and Uber won’t make any profit on their “main” service for years and years. Maybe ever.

Intuit does your taxes online. Github manages your Git.


The more you extend, the better. Just keep extending and offering features so the free versions and your competitors can’t keep up.

Free email? How about 100 times more storage than any other free email with Gmail.

Amazon Prime will give you free returns, 24/7 customer support, and same day delivery. You’re hooked now, why would you ever go back?


Lock the customer in enough so that when you charge, they have no alternative.

Your Gmail storage is full but you can buy more.

Your business hit 1,000,000 Google maps API calls this months.

Your entire organization is on Slack by the time it costs money.

What are you going to do, go back to 5 day delivery?