(Part 1 of 2) The Sarcastic MBA’s guide to Michael Porter’s 5 Competitive Forces

Jeffrey Goodman
7 min readSep 30, 2022

Competitive power doesn’t exist solely between competitors. The world is a more complex place than that.

Photo by Theo Crazzolara on Unsplash


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In the summer of 1999 when a small team of people and I were starting an online insurance company, we had an “opportunity” to relearn an important lesson about power.

The story seems funny in retrospect.

It was more frustrating back then, though.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I read a story about Apple and a power move they had just made. This Apple story and my startup story in turn reminded me of Michael Porter’s “5 Competitive Forces” which have been taught for decades now in business schools everywhere.

So here is a quick review of Porter’s “5 Competitive Forces” with a small serving of MBA sarcasm on the side.

These are the 5 competitive forces that Michael Porter first popularized back in 1979.

Jeffrey Goodman

Navigating facts and numbers to help people. Strong opinions on climate change and healthcare. Objective, not neutral. MIT engineer, Wharton MBA.