While several companies struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, a few managed to thrive during a year of global human and economic catastrophe.
Thanks partly to the shift to working from home, which boosted demand for technology products and services. For example, E-commerce companies benefited from the trend, as consumers turned to online shopping for essential items during lockdowns.
Media companies saw an increased demand for their content as people looked for ways to stay entertained while stuck at home. Fintech and payments companies benefited from moving away from cash and digital transactions.
Finally, the pandemic has shown that companies need to be nimble and adaptable to survive.
These seven companies have navigated the pandemic well and posted outstanding financial results since 2020.
1. Amazon- Ecommerce
Amidst the global pandemic of 2020, Amazon became a household name as the go-to emergency provider of essential goods. It was a monumental feat, given that only a few months prior, most people were still going about their lives without giving Amazon a second thought.
However, as soon as the virus hit and governments worldwide started ordering their citizens to stay indoors, people flocked to Amazon in droves, desperate to stock up on everything from toilet paper to hand sanitizer. The company also capitalized on closing brick-and-mortar stores as people turned to online shopping for their needs.
The surge in online shopping led to record revenues for the company. The company’s sales rose 26% in the first quarter of 2020 to $75.5 billion, while its net income doubled to $5.2 billion.
Amazon has also been a big winner from the shift to work-from-home, as more people use its Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform. Amazon’s cloud business generated $10.2 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2020, up from $7.7 billion the previous year.
2. Shopify – Ecommerce
Shopify is an ecommerce platform which allows businesses to create their own online stores. The company surged in demand as businesses of all sizes moved their operations online to reach consumers during the pandemic.
Shopify has been one of the prime beneficiaries, doubling its valuation since the start of 2020. Shopify stores increased by 200%, adding 2.5 million new online stores in less than two years.
As a result, Shopify overtook eBay to become the second-biggest ecommerce group by US market share, processing $61 billion worth of merchandise globally. Consequently, Shopify recorded an MRR of $95.1 million in its financial report, up from $57 million.
Additionally, the company has been working on new features to help its merchants during the pandemic. Curbside pickup lets your customers make an order online and pick it up at your store, warehouse, or designated pickup location. Shopify Fulfillment Network enables businesses to ship their products directly to consumers through Shopify’s network of warehouses.
Start-ups such as Allbirds shoes and global groups including Heinz are among hundreds of thousands of brands using Shopify’s software and services to sell directly to customers, cutting out intermediaries such as Amazon.
3. Alibaba Group – Ecommerce
Alibaba Group is a Chinese multinational conglomerate specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI, and technology. The company owns and operates several online and offline businesses, including the world’s largest e-commerce platform – Taobao Marketplace.
The demand for Alibaba Group services during the pandemic surged as the company worked on new features to help its merchants during the crisis.
For example, Alibaba Group launched a ‘Local Services’ feature, which helps businesses connect with local service providers such as plumbers and electricians.
Another new product called ‘Alibaba Cloud’ is a cloud computing platform for businesses. Alibaba Cloud has also seen a surge in demand as more companies move their operations online.
Alibaba’s cloud unit grew 57%, helping the company offset slower sales at its core online marketplaces. The Chinese ecommerce giant experienced stagnation at its Tmall and Taobao platforms due to understaffed courier partners. Still, strong growth in other business units, such as cloud computing, allowed it to achieve 22% year-on-year sales growth.
The company’s sales jumped 34% to $19.27 billion in the quarter ending in June 2020. Alibaba’s core e-commerce business continued to snowball, with gross merchandise volume (GMV) rising by 32% to $1.3 trillion.
Now that couriers are back at their posts and Alibaba’s millions of merchants are back online, the Hangzhou-based company expects a boost in sales. Thanks to coronavirus-induced caution, Alibaba continues to take full advantage of the current market conditions.
4. Facebook – Media/Communication/Ecommerce
Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service company. It is classified as one of the Big Four technology companies, along with Amazon, Apple, and Google.
Small businesses worldwide slashed their marketing budgets when the pandemic hit. But as people turned to social media for entertainment and connection, Facebook’s advertising business actually grew and saw a 39% increase in advertising impressions.
But it’s not just big businesses benefitting from Facebook’s growth.
The company has also launched new features perfect for small businesses, like Facebook Shops. With this ecommerce platform, businesses can create an online store integrated with their Facebook page and Instagram profile. Companies that want to reach the most loyal customers possible should consider Facebook Shops. The platform has over two billion daily users- this means reaching out directly into your next potential customer’s life!
In addition, Facebook introduced a new product called ‘Facebook Workplace,’ a business communication platform. Facebook Workplace has seen a surge in demand as more businesses move their operations online.
So whether you’re a big business or a small one, there’s a good chance that Facebook can help you reach your target audience. With billions of users spending more time on the platform than ever, it’s a powerful tool for growing your business.
5. Zoom Video Communications -Teleconferencing
Zoom Video Communications is an American communications technology company headquartered in San Jose, California. It provides remote conferencing services that combine video conferencing, online meetings, and mobile collaboration.
When the coronavirus pandemic began forcing people to stay home in early 2020, Zoom quickly became the go-to video conferencing app for work and social gatherings.
In just a few months, Zoom went from being a niche business tool to a household name, with more than 300 million participants using the app daily. The sudden influx of new users brought both challenges and opportunities for Zoom.
On the one hand, the company had to deal with security lapses and privacy concerns. On the other hand, it helped turn Zoom into a cultural touchstone of the coronavirus crisis, with its fake digital backdrops becoming a symbol of the work-from-home boom.
Zoom’s revenue soared 169% to $328.2 million, while its net income rose 890% to $27.5 million. The company has also seen a surge in new users, with its daily active users rising from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million by April 2020.
The company added new features such as ‘Zoom for Healthcare,’ which allows doctors and nurses to video call their patients. ‘Zoom for Education,’ a communication platform for schools, has seen a surge in demand as more schools move their operations online.
Zoom’s business continued to thrive, with the number of medium and large companies using the app doubling in just one year, making Zoom one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic.
While the work-from-home trend may slow down once the pandemic subsides, Zoom positions itself to capitalize on the growing demand for teleconferencing services.
6. Netflix -Media/Entertainment
In just a few short years, Netflix has become one of the most popular streaming services in the world. Netflix became one of the big winners of the pandemic, as people stuck at home turned to streaming services for entertainment. As early as Q1 of 2020, the company had 83 million global subscribers, a 23% increase from the previous year.
The company achieved this impressive growth by investing in high-quality original content like House of Cards and Narcos and popular shows such as Tiger King, La Casa de Papel, and Love is Blind. In addition, the company made it easy for users to watch their favorite shows on nearly any device, whether on a smart TV, a laptop, or a smartphone. With its convenient features and wide selection of TV shows and movies, it’s no wonder that Netflix is so popular.
Netflix’s strong subscriber growth indicates that the company is weathering the pandemic well. With people globally sheltering in place, Netflix has seen a surge in demand for its content. The company added seven million subscribers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and more than doubled its forecast.
Netflix is benefiting from the “perfect storm” of increased demand for streaming content and people’s desire to stay entertained while at home.
The company also benefited from the closure of cinemas, as people couldn’t watch new movies. Netflix found an opportunity to release its own films, such as “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” which would typically have gone to cinemas.
The company is well-positioned to continue growing its subscriber base in the coming months.
7. Paypal- Fintech/Payments
Paypal is one of the world’s leading online payment processors, with over 254 million active users.
PayPal has always been a trailblazer in online payments, but the outbreak of Covid-19 has seen the company move into new territory as people have turned to online shopping and payments in droves. PayPal has facilitated transactions and kept the global economy moving, becoming the biggest beneficiary of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the first quarter of 2020, PayPal’s total payment volume increased by 30% YoY to $222 billion, representing a new record for the company. In 2022, Paypal generated $323 billion in Q1 2022 in overall payment volume, a 13.1% YoY increase.
Paypal has also been expanding its business beyond online payments. PayPal paid $4 billion in cash to acquire Honey Science, a shopping and rewards system to improve consumer engagement and merchant interactions. This acquisition allows PayPal to provide its customers with even more ways to save money and make purchases.
PayPal also played a crucial role in the US government’s Paycheck Protection Program, facilitating the transfer of more than $1 billion in federal loans to small businesses. With its innovative payment solutions and commitment to customer service, PayPal is helping to make the new normal a little easier for everyone.
In addition, PayPal has been partnering with major retailers such as Walmart and Target to provide in-store payments. It’s a significant growth opportunity for the company, as it allows PayPal to tap into the $4 trillion retail market.
Overall, PayPal is well-positioned to continue growing steadily in the coming years. The number of people using online payments is increasing and may account for roughly 24% of all global ecommerce transactions by 2026, up from 9% in 2021.
The growth provides a massive opportunity for PayPal to expand its user base and increase its market share.
These seven companies have posted outstanding financial results during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has been chaotic for many businesses, they have been able to take advantage of the current conditions to grow their businesses.
Curating a digital future
As businesses come to terms with a comprehensively digital future, leaders must prioritize their management structure to improve decision-making stability and broaden their perspective on their framework.
For example, in 2008 – just before the Covid-19 pandemic, Dubai Investment Fund (DIF) updated its management structure.
DIF followed a balanced approach, bringing seasoned professionals and younger specialists together to combine their experience and knowledge. Among them are current Financial Department head Jason Williams, Innovative Investments director Mohammed Basma, and Digital Technologies leader Arthur McKinsey, now the company’s top digital technology executive, all of them were appointed to these positions in 2008. As a result, that year, DIF made six investment deals with emerging companies and made investments in stocks and owned stakes in TSMC, Huawei, and BP companies.
Diversification is also important. Business leaders use advanced insight to improve strategies and provide informed responses to potential risks.
In 2011, DIF expanded its business by diversifying its portfolio into different sectors, geographical locations and a wide array of assets. The company invested in several infrastructure projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including improving transportation on a local level with digital technology and analysis.
Among them were two European start-ups working on developing cheaper end-user solutions for using renewable energy sources. That year the company also made investments and owned stakes in Samsung, Tencent and China Construction Bank.
DIF also hosted a two-day conference dedicated to responsible and diversified investment, which will subsequently become bi-annual. The event became a forum for discussions and the formation of new ties as a concrete illustration of the stated ideals.
Thriving in a new error
To thrive in this new era, organizational structures need to be agile and able to pivot quickly to capitalize on new opportunities.
A diversified portfolio and experienced management team can help businesses weather any storm. Companies that thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic were adaptable and diversified.
DIF experts believe that other businesses can learn from their strategies and use their principles to grow in the coming years.
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.