Tech, Pharmaceuticals thrive despite covid-19 pandemic

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Eric S. Yuan, Chinese-American billionaire businessman, and the CEO and founder of Zoom Video Communications. IMAGE/COURTESY

A minority of firms have risen above the challenges of covid-19 to shine.

Technology and and pharmaceuticals companies have led the way by prospering against the hindrances with publicly listed firms from the profiting off gains from shifting investor interests.

The Financial Times compiled a list of top 100 companies in mid-June in its first series on corporate resilience dubbed Prospering in the pandemic.

The list features an elaborate number of global companies including well known corporates locally and may hold clues to the future of commerce from their nature of operations under the new normal.

Amazon

Ranked first, the e-commerce leader has seen record revenues after the push of most retail sales online following measures to restrict movement which led to the closure of many physical stores across the globe.

The rise and rise of Amazon has pushed the net worth CEO Jeff Bezos into a record high Ksh.18.4 trillion ($172 billion) according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index with much of Bezos’s wealth tied to Amazon.

Amazon stock price has risen by over 50 percent in the year to date buoyed by a significant lift to online shopping.

Other e-commerce firms that have seen a rise in revenues include Canadian based Shopify and Chinese Alibaba, JD and Meituan Dianping.

Microsoft

The firm’s shift towards cloud computing has left Microsoft in a well placed global position where a larger number of people are now working remotely.

The companies Azzure cloud computing platform has emerged as a critical backbone for many companies in the wake of the pandemic’s strife.

Apple

Apple’s revenues have remained resilient thanks to robust online sales.

While the company’s stores were forced to close around the world, the company managed to rake in revenues totalling Ksh.6.2 trillion ($58.3 billion) through the first three months of 2020.

The iPhone maker managed to release a new iPhone, iMac and MacBook Air as other firms scaled back on research and development (R&D).

Zoom Video

Little know prior to the pandemic, Zoom Video has become synonymous with video conferencing calls and is now a house-hold name the world over.

The San José based firm has seen its meteoric rise supported in great part by working from home policies and e-learning.

The company has however grabbed attention from security lapses which saw a number of companies warn its employees against using the platform,

The number of medium and large companies using the platform increased three-fold from a year ago while revenues earned to April were 169 percent up from a similar period in 2019.

Netflix

The video streamline platform added twice as many subscribers than it had forecast in the first three months as populations worldwide sought entertainment under a global lockdown.

The boost was further seen on a widespread scale as the platform registered high subscriptions in the continent of Europe, Africa and the Middle East sub-continent.

Netflix had 183 million global subscribers by the end of March marking a 23 percent jump from an year prior.

Facebook

Despite knocks to its advertising business, social media giant Facebook marked resilience from users spending more time on the platform.

The engagement levels further rose as the company launched new video chatting capabilities and livestream features in addition to e-commerce.

Facebook has however come under fire for allegedly failing to curb hate speech on its platform to see big advertisers such as Coca-Cola suspend promotions on the social application.

Alphabet

Better known for its brands Google and YouTube Alphabet has marked gains from its investments in cloud computing, video app Meet and its Play app store benefiting from the shift of both work and entertainment online.

YouTube’s revenue has meanwhile remained resilient growing consistently by nearly 10 percent even as advertising collapsed at the end of the first quarter.

Spotify

The Swedish based music streaming giant saw its revenues hold up from subscriptions which offset losses from falling advertising.

However, music listening habits changed as people adjusted to the new normal. The firm reported that users had turned to meditation and wellness podcasts, instrumental music and ‘chilled-out’ tunes to manage stresses emanating from the pandemic.

Spotify saw subscriptions jump to 130 million globally at the end of the first quarter of 2020 having risen by 31 percent from an year ago.

Nvidia

Graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia continued to remain the mainstay for gaming machines and machine learning systems through the pandemic.

The firm further leveraged e-commerce to sell products as it further benefited from a shift to online gaming as the world population came under lockdown.

Hours spent playing games on Nvidia’s platforms rose by 50 percent during lockdowns.

Hermès

French luxury goods maker Hermès has continued to witness demand from its rich shoppers especially in China.

For instance, sales amounting to Ksh.288.9 million on a single day at its store in Guangzhou following a mid-April re-opening after lockdown.

Its handmade leather handbag Birkin has emerged as an unexpected store of wealth due to its exclusivity making it a gem among handbag collectors.

Prices for the bag named after British actress and singer Jane Birkin has ranged between Ksh.1.2 million ($ 11,000) and Ksh.40.5 million ($380,000) so far in 2020.