Monday, February 22

My big year 2020: Amazon, Zoom or bitcoin swim against the tide | Economy


An Uber delivery man walks past a small cafe in the center of Valencia.
An Uber delivery man walks past a small cafe in the center of Valencia. Monica Torres

If someone woke up from a comma after a year asleep and had as their only source of economic information the evolution of the US and German stock markets, they would say that it has been an acceptable year. Not spectacular, but with profit, something that doesn’t always happen. Although it seems impossible after everything that happened, the SAP 500 and the Nasdaq in New York, and the Dax 30 in Berlin are around all-time highs these days. The pandemic seems to have not existed for them, as if the real economy widened their disconnection from the markets. Nor does it seem so for a handful of companies and assets that have gone far beyond enduring the type: they have been catapulted by the changes in habits caused by the virus.

Amazon. At the beginning of 2020, the digital commerce giant was already a monster that earned more than 250,000 million euros per year – the equivalent of nine times what the Spanish Indite – and earned more than 10,000 million. The pandemic, despite the spending on protection material carried out by Jeff Bezos’ company to protect its facilities and employees, has only increased that domain: in the second quarter of the year, profits doubled those of the same period of the previous year, and in the third they tripled them. The key is simple: lock downs have increased the time consumers spend at home, growing online sales, and no competitor has a larger catalog and is able to deliver something in less time than Amazon. The response to this increasingly incontestable power has not taken long: the mayors of Paris and Barcelona have publicly called for a boycott of the company, and parallel initiatives have emerged such as that of the Spanish booksellers grouped in todostuslibros.com, calling customers to opt for local alternatives. Only the action of the European and American Competition authorities seems capable of disturbing the overwhelming inertia with which a global brand operates surrounded by an aura of reliability.

Zoom. It is to be expected that in some investors of the Zoom video calling service, their movements will provoke mixed feelings. The platform plummeted more than 25% on the stock market in just two sessions after Pfizer announced the effectiveness of its vaccine. The success of its platform depends on whether work meetings, friends or family continue to be at a distance through the screen, so that their movements have followed a logic inversely proportional to the health crisis: the worse, the better. The prospects that in 2021 vaccines could put an end to the pandemic have not, however, made it back to the starting box. It shares earn more than 400% this year in view of the prospect of a permanent change in habits in which teleworking is much more common than in the past. The figures show that the rise of Zoom has been dazzling: in all of 2019 it had two million active users, a figure that it had already exceeded in the first two months of 2020. In the month of April, its weekend calls were already they had multiplied almost 2,000%. Today the company is worth $100 billion.

Streaming platforms. The success of Netflix during the months of confinement can be explained in one event: the European Commissioner for the Interior, Thierry Breton, even called the CEO of the platform, Reed Hastings, to ask him to reduce the quality of his videos due to fear of that the Internet crashed and the connection was cut off. The operator accepted. Like her, its competitors Amazon Prime, HBO and Disney Plus have multiplied their users. During the confinement, the latter came to release the film Mulan exclusively on its platform, avoiding the traditional passage through theaters, for a price of 21.99 euros, sending the message that theaters are no longer essential in their strategy.

The bitcoin. Before December 16, the controversial virtual currency had never exceeded $20,000. It all-time highs have already exceeded 30,000. While critics like the famous American economist Courier Robin continue to call the virtual currency a scam, the entry of institutional investors has helped to raise its highly volatile price. It supporters defend it as a new safe-haven value to replace gold in the face of a possible return to inflation due to the wave of stimuli.

Small Pharmaceuticals. The American Moderna and the German BioNtech have had their best year for participating in the development of the most anticipated vaccine. Unlike the traditional pharmaceutical giants, whose value is already very high, the low threshold from which they started has allowed these two biotech companies to skyrocket in value. BioNtech, which has developed its vaccine together with Pfizer, rises more than 100% on the stock market, while Moderna does so more than 400%.

Baum. After hesitant start-ups years ago, the Spanish banking mobile payment solution has exceeded 12 million users this year. In an environment of office closures, with cash withdrawn and banking in the process of digitization, its use is increasingly widespread. ING offered customers the possibility of using it since this summer. And Ex Corte Ingl├ęs this month signed an agreement with BBVA to incorporate it as a means of online payment.

Food delivery companies. The movement of bicycles laden with food has continued this year even in the apocalyptic scene of deserted streets and closed premises. Many bars and restaurants have relied on home delivery to save their business, and that has benefited platforms such as Just Eat,Gloveo or Uber Eats. The latter, for example, highlights Spain and Japan as the countries where food deliveries grew the most, more than 300%. Of every$100 that the company has made this year, six came from its passenger transport business and four from Uber Eats, figures much more even than in 2019, when the mobility leg was clearly imposed with$77.5 out of 10.

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