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Monday, August 15, 2022

A Look Back at the Year in Tech Empires

In the year 2021, Big Tech became much larger and more powerful. The technological empires looked to be more susceptible than ever before to the forces of regulation, competition, a tumultuous public mood, and, perhaps most importantly, arrogance.

Yes, this is a blatant inconsistency. However, this pattern of Big Tech being stronger while simultaneously becoming weaker is expected to persist in 2022.

Behind this trend is the same question I’ve been posing in this newsletter for a long time: Are American technology superpowers such as Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook invincible in a way that previous generations of corporate titans were not? Is it possible that these companies are invincible in a way that previous generations of corporate titans were not?

First and foremost, here’s a look at some of the ways in which Big Tech will reach the stratosphere in 2021. Apple, already the most valuable company on the planet, is on the verge of surpassing an unfathomable $3 trillion in market capitalization on the stock market. That’s the equivalent of around eight Walmarts, or more than the whole value of the German stock market.

In fact, Amazon’s impact on the U.S. labour market has been so significant that the company’s hourly pay has prompted local firms to raise their rates, which has resulted in a rise in the income of many Americans who do not work for Amazon. When Facebook and its other applications were down for a short period last autumn, it demonstrated just how reliant we are on a single business for our daily lives and transactions.

This year, American technology companies were engaged in a variety of issues, including drug policy in the United States, Russia’s presidential election, and ethnic conflict in Ethiopia. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, was just awarded Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Although his firm is not officially classified Big Tech, its stock market valuation and impact qualify it as an honorary member.

Many of you are already acquainted with this region. Technology is one of the most significant forces in the globe, and those at the forefront of it are among the most influential people on the planet. We may have never seen something like this before: a mix of riches, economic relevance, massive numbers of users, and worldwide influence like that possessed by these digital giants.

However, at the same time as Big Tech has become wealthier and much more significant, their empires are being put under more strain.

China’s government was concerned enough about the growing influence of the country’s IT superstars that it took steps to restrict access to several popular internet platforms. Regulators and politicians in cities throughout the world, including London, Brussels, Seoul, Washington, Tallahassee, and — well, pretty much everywhere — are attempting to create new barriers to regulate what they perceive to be the detrimental impacts of technology firms’ dominance in our lives.

A lot of this effort may turn out to be pointless bluster or out to be quite unimportant in the long run. However, when elected officials turn against a business, it is often a mirror of the general public’s sentiment. You can bet your last dollar that it won’t be sunny again very soon.

And although the Big Tech behemoths continue to be lucrative and thrive, there are indications of deterioration in the sector as a whole. Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos resigned from his position and many other technology executives followed suit. When a firm grows in size, it may become less enjoyable to deal with the messes.

Mark Zuckerberg seems to be concerned about the future of Facebook and its capacity to remain relevant among young people. And it was not Amazon that came up with the most innovative food-shopping concepts in the previous two years; instead, it was Instacart, fast-delivery start-ups like GoPuff, and even Walmart. American consumers spend more money on groceries than they do on practically anything else, and Big Tech is mostly seen as a novelty.

Feelings toward technology businesses and tech personalities are becoming more difficult as time goes on. People often like or depend on technology, yet they may also be irritated by it at times.

The current craze in the technology business is bitcoin start-ups and associated firms, which envision a future of the internet that is less controlled by corporate power than the one we have now. From the interior of the machine, this seems to be a crisis of trust in the technological underpinnings, to some extent.

Empires don’t tend to exist indefinitely, despite the fact that many of the Big Tech firms have successfully weathered crises in the past and emerged even stronger. I’m not sure what will transpire this time around. It’s difficult to overlook how established and prominent the technology corporations have become. And it’s tough to ignore the fact that they’re being bombarded with uncertainties and difficulties.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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