A look back: As we end the year, it's interesting to see what was on our collective minds and revisit the stories that defined the year in tech. A lot happened in 2019, some good, some bad. Vox recently provided some interesting charts to put the impact of some of the biggest tech stories in perspective.
Several tech companies had their initial public offerings (IPO) in 2019, but most of them are floundering. Of the seven high profile IPOs Recode tracked, only Zoom and Peloton are trading above their opening prices. Both are up 3.8 and 20.3 percent, respectively.
Pinterest, Fivr, Uber, Slack, and Lyft are down with the latter two underwater by nearly 50 percent of their initial value.
WeWork made a lot of waves this year. It was set to have an IPO that was later canceled mostly due to internal turmoil brought on by the misconduct of co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann. Neumann was forced to resign, and the whole fiasco sent WeWork's valuation imploding. In the span of just a couple of months, the startup's value plummeted from a high of $47 billion to $7.8 billion, with its future still uncertain.
SoftBank, the communications conglomerate with the largest investment capital fund in the world, saw its $100 billion Vision Fund dip into the red for the first time. While a $9.5 billion bailout of WeWork did not help the firm's portfolio, it was several other bets, including Uber, Slack, and Wag, that put the fund in the red to the tune of over $6 billion.
Media monitor Meltwater tracked news articles containing "technology" and "antitrust" since 2015 and found them steadily increasing over the last five years. Since 2015, the amount of antitrust coverage in the tech field has risen more than 200 percent. It's hard to say if it is just that governments are cracking down more or companies are finding penalties so light that they are not afraid to play fast and loose with the anti-competition rules.
Another trend is the increasing concerns of various companies from multiple industries fearing encroachment by the growth of Amazon. The online retailer's presence has been felt by everyone from brick-and-mortar stores to other online sellers who struggle to match prices. It also has its toes in the video streaming market with its Prime service and the acquisition of Twitch. More than 200 firms have cited Amazon as a "risk factor" in their 10K filings in 2019.
We have seen a lot of coverage of Google's continuing struggle with in-house activism, and its alleged firing of those attempting to organize protests. However, Google is not alone in seeing this rise in workplace activism. Microsoft, Blizzard, and others have faced internal criticism for various actions with employees staging walkouts and other public displays of disapproval.
Vox looked at the use of several hashtags trending this year on Twitter. Of particular note was #DeleteFacebook, which not only trended more often than others like #DeleteUber, #DeleteInstagram, and #NotechforICE, but had considerable spikes in May and October. In October, #DeleteFacebook was used more than 120,000 times in tweets.
Streaming services saw a big push in 2019. While video game streaming is duking it out on the ground floor, movie and television streaming has been seeing many contenders trying to get in on an established pie that is mostly dominated by Netflix. The top five streaming services by the number of viewers this year are Netflix (159 million), Amazon Prime (97 million), Hulu (76 million), HBO Now (23 million), and SlingTV (7 million).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been steadily growing. Although it is relatively new with only a little historical data, marketing intelligence firm IDC forecasts trendlines that are mostly on the rise for things like smart speakers, home security, and video entertainment devices. Smart thermostats have begun making an appearance with not quite 25 million homes having them installed in 2019. However, IDC predicts that even by 2023, smart thermostats will barely exceed current installs.
All graphs by Vox
Those were eight of the most intriguing tech stories for 2019. What news events caught your attention the most in 2019? Was there anything we did not mention that you feel helped to define the industry in 2019? Let's hear them in the comments.