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The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web

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The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web (1998-Today)

The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web (1998-Today)

With each passing year, an increasingly large segment of the population no longer remembers images loading a single pixel row at a time, the earsplitting sound of a 56k modem, or the domination of web portals.

Many of the top websites in 1998 were basically news aggregators or search portals, which are easy concepts to understand. Today, brand touch-points are often spread out between devices (e.g. mobile apps vs. desktop site) and a myriad of services and sub-brands (e.g. Facebook’s constellation of apps). As a result, the world’s biggest websites are complex, interconnected web properties.

Today’s visualization, inspired by an earlier work published by WaPo, looks at which of the internet giants have evolved to stay on top, and which have faded into internet lore.

America Moves Online

For millions of curious people the late ’90s, the iconic AOL compact disc was the key that opened the door to the World Wide Web. At its peak, an estimated 35 million people accessed the internet using AOL.

By 1999, the AOL rode the Dot-com bubble to dizzying heights, with a valuation of $222 billion dollars.

AOL’s brand may not carry the caché it once did, but the brand never completely faded into obscurity. The company continually evolved, finally merging with Yahoo after Verizon acquired both of the legendary online brands. Verizon has high hopes for the company – called Oath – to evolve into a “third option” for advertisers and users who are fed up with Google and Facebook.

A City of Gifs and Web Logs

As internet usage began to reach critical mass, web hosts such as AngelFire and GeoCities made it easy for people to create a new home on the Web.

GeoCities, in particular, made a huge impact on the early internet, hosting millions of websites and giving people a way to actually participate in creating online content. If the web host was a physical place, it would’ve been the third largest city in America, just after Los Angeles.

This early online community was at risk of being erased permanently when GeoCities was finally shuttered by Yahoo in 2009, but the nonprofit Internet Archive took special efforts to create a thorough record of GeoCities-hosted pages.

From A to Z

In December of 1998, long before Amazon became the well-oiled retail machine we know today, the company was in the midst of a massive holiday season crunch.

In the real world, employees were pulling long hours and even sleeping in cars to keep the goods flowing, while online, Amazon.com had become one of the biggest sites on the internet as people began to get comfortable with the idea of purchasing goods online. Demand surged as the company began to expand their offering beyond books.

Amazon.com has grown to be the most successful merchant on the Internet.

– New York Times (1998)

Digital Magazine Rack

Meredith – with the possible exception of Oath – may be the most unrecognizable name to many people looking at today’s top 20 list. While Meredith may not be a household name, the company controls many of the country’s most popular magazine brands (People, Sports Illustrated, Health, etc.) including their sizable digital footprints. The company also has a slew of local television networks around the United States.

After its acquisition of Time Inc. in 2017, Meredith became the largest magazine publisher in the world.

“Hey, Google”

When people have burning questions, they increasingly turn to the internet for answers, but the diversity of sources for those answers is shrinking.

Even as recently as 2013, we can see that About.com, Ask.com, and Answers.com were still among the biggest websites in America. Today though, Google appears to have cemented its status as a universal wellspring of answers.

As smart speakers and voice assistants continue penetrate the market and influence search behavior, Google is unlikely to face any near-term competition from any company not already in the top 20 list.

New Kids on the Block

Social media has long since outgrown its fad stage and is now a common digital thread connecting people across the world. While Facebook rapidly jumped into the top 20 by 2007, other social media infused brands took longer to grow into internet giants.

In 2018, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook’s umbrella of platforms were are all in the top 20, with LinkedIn and Pinterest not far behind.

NOTE: This ranking uses ComScore data which is focused on the U.S. and looks at unique visitors/viewers.

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education

How Technology is Shaping the Future of Education

From artificial intelligence to chatbots, this infographic visualizes what the future of education could look like. Can schools keep up with the times?

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Technology has transformed almost every aspect of our lives, and now it seems that education systems around the world are due for an update.

Educators are tapping into the digital revolution and adopting new technologies to help students reach their full potential, but can they adapt quickly enough to prepare children for the changing future of work?

The Growing Role of Tech in Classrooms

Today’s infographic from Best Education Degrees explores the different ways technology is transforming classrooms, and disrupting education as we know it.

future of education graphic

The Next Generation

Although some might view technology as pervasive, for younger generations, it is ever-present.

Children and young adults make up one-third of all internet users, so it’s no surprise that they are more hyper-connected and digitally savvy than their parents.

The combination of evolving educational needs for children and a more uncertain future of work means that updating what children learn, and how they learn it, has become a crucial issue for schools and colleges—but what should be prioritized?

Classrooms 2.0

In a survey of 1,400 educators, the majority of them say they believe that classrooms of the future will be centered around self-paced and personalized learning.

This student-centric approach would allow children to choose their own pace and learning objectives based on individual interests—all of which could be guided by artificial intelligence, chatbots, and video-based learning.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence in education typically focuses on identifying what a student does or doesn’t know, and then subsequently developing a personalized curricula for each student.

The AI-powered language learning platform Duolingo is one of the most downloaded education apps globally, with more than 50 million installs in 2018. The platform single-handedly challenges the notion of traditional learning, with a study showing that spending just 34 hours on the app equates to an entire university semester of language education.

AI-driven applications in education are still in their infancy, but Duolingo’s success demonstrates the growth potential in the sector. In fact, the nascent market for AI in education is expected to reach $6 billion by the year 2025. Over half of this will come from China and the U.S., with China leading globally.

Chatbots

Chatbots are also quickly becoming a fundamental tool in next generation education. Designed to simplify the interaction between student and computer, chatbots provide a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Spaced interval learning: Uses algorithms and repetition to optimize memorization
  • Immediate feedback: Papers can be graded with 92% accuracy and in a faster time than teachers
  • Self-paced learning: Tracks a student’s performance and guides them based on their individual needs

This innovative technology is arming educators with new strategies for more engaged learning, whilst simultaneously reducing their workload.

Video Learning

Although video-based learning may not necessarily be considered as innovative as artificial intelligence or chatbots, 98% of educators view it as a vital component in personalized learning experiences. Most institutions report incorporating video into their curriculums in some way, but even higher demand for video-based learning may come from students in the near future.

This is due to the fact that video learning increases student satisfaction by 91%, and student achievements by 82%, which could be why educators are increasingly using video for tasks like:

  • Providing material for student assignments
  • Giving feedback on assignments
  • Flipped instruction (blended learning) exercises

A flipped classroom overturns conventional learning by focusing on practical content that is delivered online and often outside the classroom.

The Battle Between Traditional and Tech

Flipping classrooms is a trend that has gained momentum in recent years—and may be considered to be a radical change in how students absorb information. The relatively new model also eliminates homework, by empowering students to work collaboratively on their tasks during class time.

Although new models of learning are disrupting the status quo of traditional learning, could the increasing amount of time children spend in front of screens be detrimental?

Research has shown that children are more likely to absorb information from books rather than screens. There has also been an evident increase in low-tech or tech-free schools that believe that human interaction is paramount when it comes to keeping children engaged and excited to learn.

Creating First-Class Humans

Although we may not be in the era of iTeachers just yet, the benefits of technology as teaching aids are undeniable. However, what is more important is that these aids are used in tandem with developmental and educational psychology—ultimately keeping students rather than technology at the core of education.

The future will be about pairing the artificial intelligence of computers with the cognitive, social and emotional capabilities of humans, so that we educate first-class humans, not second-class robots”

—OECD, Trends Shaping Education report

After all, how children develop these skills is perhaps less important than their ability to navigate change, as that is the only thing that will remain constant.

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Finance

Visualizing the Current Landscape of the Fintech Industry

The fintech industry welcomed multi-billion dollar investments in 2019. Where is the most growth, and how are incumbents dealing with digital disruption?

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Visualizing the Current Landscape of the Fintech Industry

Since the introduction of the first credit card with a magnetic stripe in 1966, financial technology has come a long way. Silicon Valley may not have birthed the term “fintech”, but it has certainly helped catapult its applications into the mainstream.

Leveraging everything from basic apps to the blockchain, the changing dynamics of fintech are creating new investment opportunities everyday, growing its appetite with every new megadeal.

Today’s graphic from Raconteur highlights the global growth of the fintech industry, the services with the most staying power, and major M&A developments of the past year as traditional institutions scramble to deal with this digital disruption.

How Fintech Levels the Playing Field

Over the past five years, digitally-enabled financial technology services have delivered convenient and cheaper access to financial services to millions of consumers.

What draws consumers towards using fintech?

  • Attractive rates and fees (27%)
  • Easy access and account setup (20%)
  • Variety of innovative products and services (18%)
  • Better service quality and product features (12%)

This new implementation of technology is democratizing financial services for the masses, a strong contrast to accessing them through traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.

How Fintech Fares Across Borders

On average, 64% of the world’s digitally active population has used at least one fintech service. But China and India surpass this benchmark by a mile—in a survey of 27,000 consumers across 27 markets, both countries demonstrated a 87% fintech adoption rate.

Russia and South Africa are in close second, with 82% adoption respectively. On the other hand, France and Japan are tied at the low end of the spectrum with only 35% fintech adoption.

The trajectory of mobile payments and digital wallets in China can help put high Asian adoption rates in perspective. Thanks to services like Alipay and WeChat, 890 million unique mobile payment users are essentially transforming China from a cash economy to a digital one.

Which Services Have Caught Consumer Attention?

Just like “Googling” is synonymous with looking up information online, the term “Venmo-ing” has become an American verb for paying someone back via a digital wallet.

That’s why it’s no surprise that money transfer and payments are by far the most rapidly growing fintech services, shooting up from 18% to 75% global adoption in just four years. Here’s how global average adoption rates differ by fintech service, across time:

Fintech Category201520172019
💸 Money transfer and payments18%50%75%
💰 Savings and investments17%20%34%
📋 Budgeting and financial planning8%10%29%
🛡️ Insurance 8%24%48%
💳 Borrowing6%10%27%

Source: EY Global Fintech Adoption Index 2019

Insurtech has steadily gained traction in the market. Digital insurance solutions provide personalized and on-demand coverage plans for clients, using bots and machine learning to assess risk levels. As a result, this sub-segment has been attracting large funding rounds due to the time—and money—it helps free up for firms.

According to CapGemini, incumbents in the financial industry see wallets and mobile payments from fintech providers as the most significant offerings impacting their companies. That may be why they’re resorting to big moves to protect their business.

Deals and More Deals

Major financial institutions made some serious plays in 2019, in the way of mergers and acquisitions of fintech companies:

  • FIS bought the payments processing company Worldpay for $35 billion, valuing the company at $43 billion when debt is included. (Reuters)
  • The London Stock Exchange Group plans to acquire financial markets data provider Refinitiv for $27 billion, in the hopes of rivaling Bloomberg. (Reuters)
  • Global Payments bought the payments processing company Total System Services for $21.5 billion, planning to provide services to over 1,300 financial institutions. (Bloomberg)
  • Fiserv acquired payments processing company First Data for $22 billion—the two companies combined are a backbone of Wall Street’s financial technology. (WSJ)
  • Visa purchased the payments authentication company Plaid for $5.3 billion in January 2020, in hopes of strengthening its relations with financial institutions. (CNBC)

As billions of dollars exchange hands, it’s been noted that many of these plays were made by established incumbents to curb the threat posed by fintech startups.

At the same time, however, it’s also clear that traditional institutions want to tap into what fintech startups are doing right.

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