2020 was quite an eventful year for the tech industry, and quite a profitable at one at that.
2020 was quite an eventful year for the tech industry, and quite a profitable at one at that, actually. From hot IPOs to record-breaking tech stock rallies and more, the year has been exceptional for the industry.
However, as with anything else, the year also showed us the ugly side of the industry too, with some social media companies like Facebook playing the bad guy once more.
Here are 6 important tech stories from 2020 that you should read before the turn of the year.
1. A true unicorn: The shocking rise of one relatively unknown firm by the name of Zoom Video Communications
We can't really discuss the tech sector in 2020 without mentioning the meteoric rise of video conferencing firm Zoom.
Previously a small competitor in the video conferencing field, the company would give giants like Microsoft, Google and Cisco a run for their money a few months into 2020. The recently-turned public company has seen an exponential increase in user numbers, climbing from 10 million users in December of 2019 to 200 million users in March 2020 - an increase of 1900% in a mere 4 months. As of October, the company sees well over 300 million daily meeting participants.
While its growth is expected to slow down slightly in Q4 2020, the company will still close the year leaps and bounds beyond where it was previously.
2. Has Facebook become the big bad of the social media world? - February 2020
Today, Facebook remains the undisputed king of social media, whose revenue alone is worth the value of a handful of big social media companies combined. Facebook is often seen as having captured lightning in a bottle, outperforming its predecessor MySpace and eventually signing their death warrant, then going on to reign supreme for the next 14 years after it went global.
In the years to follow, the deaths of industry players like Google+ and other social networks tell a story of cutthroat competition, where Facebook continues to crush smaller rivals, or assimilate them.
Today, Facebook is head honcho in the social media world, and most companies have to play by its rules. Facebook has long adopted very aggressive competitive practices, with Zuckerberg telling employees to not be too proud to copy their rivals.
This article explores Facebook's aggressive practices in the face of competition, something it is currently facing legal action for.
3. Apple has reached a $2 trillion valuation, but at what cost? - August 2020 Like the aforementioned Facebook, Apple had once been the scrappy underdog on the block, fighting the mega corporations of its industry while championing better products and services for consumers.
As the saying goes, "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain," and this bit of wisdom has unfortunately applied to Apple and many companies like it who grew too big for their own good.
Rising game developer and publisher Epic Games, the studio behind mega-hit battle royale game Fortnite, had started a legal battle with Apple (and Google) after being blocked from their App Store (and Google Play). The developer was not content paying Apple's supposedly high fees (30%), and decided to introduce an in-app tool that allowed users to pay Epic Games directly, bypassing the iPhone maker. In retaliation, Apple kicked them off the platform.
Epic Games fought back with a lawsuit and parodied Apple's controversial '1984' ad with a scathing version of their own titled "Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite."
The two companies will go into court on May 3rd, 2021.
4. Triple A video game studios have a problem, and Cyberpunk 2077 is just the latest offender - December 2020 Cyberpunk 2077, the sci-fi role-playing game by beloved Polish studio CD Projekt Red, was supposed to be the light at the end of this very long tunnel we've come to know as 2020. Unfortunately, the game fell to the same fate many other titles have been in recent memory.
Regardless of the duration of their production cycles - i.e. how long it takes for a game to be conceived, funded, produced, released and then supported post-launch with updates and patches - we've been seeing a trend this decade: the release of broken, buggy games.
Technically-flawed releases are not exactly new to the video game industry - they've just become much more common, and the high-profile release of a major title like Cyberpunk 2077 has brought this issue to the forefront like never before, drawing the ire of consumers, critics, and even investors, one of whom is now seeking legal action against the company behind the game.
5. What Careem can teach other aspiring Middle East startups - September 2020 This year saw the tech startup Careem be purchased by US rival Uber for $3.1 billion. This was a historic event for the region's tech industry, where Careem has become the beacon of success other startups in the sectors aspire to be like.
The question, then, is how did a homegrown local company from the UAE grow into the region's first tech unicorn and a venerable rival of a company more than 21 times its size, so much so that the US rival had to outright buy it out?
6. Airbnb goes public: Stock value increased 113% on its first day of trading - December 2020
As we previously mentioned, 2020 has been a good year to be a tech company, as Airbnb found out this month. In fact, Bloomberg said that December "is on track to set an all-time record for money raised in IPOs in the US, capping off an already record year." Airbnb is now the latest to reap these benefits.
One day before listing on Nasdaq, Airbnb stock was slated for a $68 sale price. On its first official day of trading, stock value more than doubled, opening at $146 and closing the day at $144.71, up 113%.
With a market valuation hovering around $90 billion during its first week of going publix, the company's IPO has been a roaring success, making it the most valuable travel company in the world.