Quantifying the global e-commerce slowdown • TechCrunch

The COVID-19 pandemic was many things. Global contagion. Health disaster. Announcing new geopolitical tensions and a long-running commentary on how far we’re willing to go to protect – or not – our fellow human beings. It was also a commercial earthquake that shook most industries around the world.

But as soon as COVID entered the scene, smashing supply lines and business models, it faded as well. After most of the world learned to live with – or simply decided to suffer – the health effects of the pandemic, many industries reverted to their former form. Airlines have moved from trash to first class; in contrast, tech companies have gone from darlings to maligned.

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Some tech concerns have seen tailwinds during COVID, as a recently reformed business climate has helped them thrive for a while. You can cast a wide net here: Robinhood is exploding in part thanks to consumers stuck at home with more money than usual, Instacart is seeing explosive demand for its grocery delivery service. Some tech companies have gone the other way, as was the case with Airbnb’s business cratering in the early months of COVID, as go places went from aspirational to crazy overnight.

Since the return to what passes for normalcy, companies initially impacted by COVID have charted divergent paths. Robinhood lost some of its luster when its user base, according to the usually discussed narrative, returned to the outdoors. Instacart saw its growth slow but managed to hold on to its pandemic-era gains.

Airbnb, an early example of the layoffs COVID could induce in once healthy businesses, has recovered and retained much of its value since going public, a rare feat for its IPO cohort.

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