Alphabet’s Google search service and YouTube video unit — also subject to the vicissitudes of the advertising market — have seen surges in use, while may of the company’s other products and its cloud services are doing well. And that trend will persist: More Americans are using these services more intensely and becoming accustomed to their efficacy.
Amazon will be one of the main beneficiaries of the crisis as more consumers use its delivery and entertainment services, and as more companies move over to its cloud business, Amazon Web Services. So too for its analog Whole Foods Market, which has remained open during the slowdown for both delivery and walk-in customers. Amazon said last week it was looking to hire 100,000 warehouse workers to meet the increased demand, which is no surprise.
And so it goes: Apple’s supply chain from China is being restored as that country recovers ahead of the rest of the world from Covid-19, and its diversification into other services like streaming has only been bolstered by the crisis. Microsoft’s cloud service and Teams collaboration product have also experienced a spike in use.
And one major plus for all of them: Their questionable behaviors around competition, the spread of disinformation and hate speech, addiction and more will not be subject to the same regulatory scrutiny that had been building over the last year. In fact, it seems less likely that government officials — in the United States, at least, where their hands are full with more pressing issues — will be as enthusiastic to pass legislation or levy fines to thwart the growing power of tech.
Still, some big tech companies are vulnerable. Airbnb, the home-rental giant that has seen its listings drop precipitously, will likely not go public this year as planned. The company will probably need to raise more funds at less attractive terms to add to its $4 billion in liquidity, and need to do yeoman’s work to re-convince its hosts and customers that high-analog-touch businesses are OK (side note: Their hotel rivals are even more exposed).
The same is true for the car-sharing leader, Uber, which was already struggling with increased costs as states seek to recategorize their drivers from contract workers to employees entitled to benefits. And getting people back into the habit of using Uber cars instead of their own after the pandemic ends will be a heavy lift.
As for the scooter and other alternate mobility businesses that Uber has been building, along with competitors like Lime and Bird, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The only saving grace is that the onset of warmer weather could mean increased usage.