How Has Coronavirus Affected the Tech Firms?
By Kia Ghiam
Twenty years ago, dot com bubble happened where internet companies were considered risky. Some tech companies survived and excelled others diminished and probably vanished. It was an era people doubted the internet and thought it was over. Look at Napster and MySpace on one side and look at PayPal, Amazon, and Netflix on the other side. Fast forward to 2020, the world is in the midst of a pandemic that we have to isolate ourselves. The life of integrity and hegemony is taking a dramatic turn.
At first, corporations and universities didn’t know how to deal with their day to day functional operation being forced online. In the beginning, it looked like every aspect of life from government, non-profit organizations, corporations, and charities had to stop everything. Therefore, it took a drastic effect on every industry from manufacturing to retail and technology. However, from the beginning it looked like the companies and places that were dealing with their operations on the internet and technology were the winners. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (FAANG) had more traffic than before. Some tech firms made promotions and discounts; others collaborated with the government to stop the spread of the virus. Google and Apple joined forces with the White House to contact trace individuals with the virus. Amazon spent $4 billion alone on corporate social responsibility to keep their employees informed about the pandemic and how to contain it at their sites. Netflix had 10 million new subscribers in the last three months and is giving away 10 shows and movies with free trials (CBC). Each company looked to show their strength and power by being involved in the pandemic.
Fast forward a few months later into the pandemic and, tech stocks are showing robust numbers in revenue and growth. These firms are carrying the stock market on their backs for the time being. Tesla’s stock rallied more than 230% in the second quarter of 2020 and had its stock split in late August (MarketWatch). In addition, tech companies are doing what they did before; make the late laggers to internet operation go out of business. This can be said about Brooks Brothers, Lord and Taylor, JC Penny, and Hertz all going bankrupt during the pandemic. Then, there are trends, social causes, current events, and protests that are becoming a global scene on social media sites. As an example, these events are Black Lives Matter protests and the Lebanon explosion that has rocked the world in shock. There are the activity challenges that sports professionals created for people to entertain themselves and get support, comment, and likes online during the pandemic. Also, there has been outrage and fume about the concerts and parties at Wuhan that took place over the summer. What have the tech firms do to our lives that we are living close to a fast-paced environment while being far from the action?
First of all, online interaction such as shopping, listening, and watching has increased across all ages around the world. A lot of people have been able to use internet and smartphones more during these times to stay connected and aware of their city and country. There has been a 37% increase in texting, a 32% increase in video calling, and a 70% increase in group calls on Facebook messenger app NICCS. People are having a sufficient amount of money in their savings that are capable of spending on their home goods. Home Depot had a surge of 23% revenue last quarter based on spending from their customers (MarketWatch).
Then, some companies such as DoorDash are coming out with their IPO due to seeing a beneficial opportunity. There are other functions such as Zoom or Google Hangout are being used for concerts, comedy clubs, or happy hours. As seen that people are joining virtual realities to meet other people or get a feel of what it's like to be at a venue on a Saturday night listening to the DJ while taking a sip of their drink of the choice. Artists such as Andrea Bocelli and Lady Gaga televised their performance on YouTube for people to see them live behind a screen. In a KFF Tracking Poll conducted in mid-July, 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.
It is better to say to keep our cool and anxiety on a low and not to lose anything or anyone that we are having at the moment. One thing to note is that hackers and thieves have become more malicious because they need to survive too. Therefore, raise for concern about cybersecurity have increased during these times due to people working remotely. Zoom was facing scrutiny over how vulnerable they are with their security back in March. It has been a hectic 2020 for us so far and we had to make plenty of adjustments to our daily routines. If grandparents were complaining about smartphones and lack of socialization, now we can understand their pain. It can be said, karma has done it for our generation about this situation.
However, not all can be said that every tech company is thriving. Certain companies such as Airbnb and Yelp are hurting due to a lack of travel and tourism from people. Uber had to lay off 3000 employees due to an 80% decrease in use of the app (TheVerge). Draft Kings had lost revenue due to a lack of sports playing. Staffing concerns ramped up for full-time employees, as well as gig workers, such as drivers, delivery workers, and retail staff, who often work as contractors at tech firms (PWC). Yes, some tech firms are getting pinched at the moment too. It is better to say that we need to be aware of what is best for us at the moment.
We are definitely in the never-ending situation of a global pandemic that health officials are awaiting a second wave in fall. Globally, when our power or internet goes out due to a natural disaster, frustration, agitation, and boredom arise at home being uncertain about the possibility of knowing what is going on with our friends and family. All is there to do is try to spend more time with family and friends to make us remember the good times that we are having being with them at the moment. If there wasn’t for the FaceTime feature to speak with your friends who knows how often you would have been speaking with them or see them on regular basis. These are the times we should cherish that we are spending time with our family and friends more than before the pandemic started.