What is Big Tech Contributing to Fight COVID-19?
In the ongoing global crusade against COVID-19, everyone has a part to play. As the situation intensifies, the private sector has also been rallying to help governments and healthcare organizations cope with the situation, and U.S. tech companies are no exception.
With a combined market capitalization of over $4.7 trillion, the “FAAMG” Five—Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google)—wield immense influence on the economy, as well as the potential to impact lives during this challenging time.
The Biggest Moves by Big Tech
In today’s data visualization, we look at the financial contributions being made by Big Tech giants in response to the pandemic. The main categories that these actions fall into are:
- Small businesses: Grants and ad credits
- Media/News: Fact-checking and grants for local news
- Healthcare: COVID-19 research and frontline support
- Relief Efforts: Public safety and non-profit donations
What is each company pledging in financial efforts to relieve the strain on those affected most by the ongoing crisis?
Many people rely on Google to find reliable news and resources during the pandemic. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has focused its financial support towards small businesses and healthcare researchers, mainly through offering millions of dollars in advertising credits.
|Small Businesses||$340M||Google ad credits for small businesses|
|$200M||Investment fund for NGOs and financial institutions to help small businesses|
|$20M||Ad credits for NGOs and financial institutions to help small businesses|
|$15M||Cash grants to non-profits to help small businesses|
|Media/News||$6.5M||Funding offered to Google News Initiative to support media outlets and fact-checkers|
|Healthcare||$250M||Ad grants for WHO and 100+ global government agencies|
|$20M||Google Cloud credits for researchers and academic institutions|
|Relief Efforts||$5M||Donations matched for COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, co-created by the UN Foundation and the WHO|
Google has also promised to ramp up the production of 3 million masks for the CDC Foundation. In addition, Google has partnered with Apple to create a secure and private contact-tracing tool to aid public health authorities.
Facebook is another massive platform through which information—and misinformation—spreads quickly and easily. Especially in times of crisis, the spread of poorly-vetted information can have a severe impact on our health and well-being.
To try and combat this, the company is allocating funds towards fact-checking, as well as supporting local media outlets.
|Small Businesses||$100M||Small Business Grants Program, for up to 30,000 businesses in over 30 countries|
|Media/News||$75M||Marketing to help publishers worldwide with declining ad revenues|
|$25M||Facebook Journalism Project towards emergency grant funding for local news|
|$2M||Grants and donations to fact-checking organizations e.g. International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN)|
|$1M||Grants for local news|
|Healthcare||$25M||Support for front line healthcare workers|
|Relief Efforts||$10M||Donations matched to the CDC Foundation|
|$10M||Donations matched for COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, co-created by the UN Foundation and the WHO|
Facebook and Alphabet will together match up to $15 million in donations to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which has raised over $127 million to date.
During this unprecedented era of social distancing and lockdowns, the online retailer has become almost indispensable as ecommerce shoots up. Amazon has several initiatives on the go, including help to Seattle businesses and citizens, where its operations all started.
|Small Businesses||$5.5M||Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund for over 400 Seattle small businesses|
|$1M||COVID-19 Response Fund, providing rapid-response grants to local businesses and vulnerable communities|
|Healthcare||$20M||Amazon Web Services (AWS) Diagnostic Development Initiative to speed up COVID-19 research|
|Relief Efforts||$30M||£24.5M (US$30M) provided to European non-profit and Red Cross organizations|
|$25M||Amazon Relief Fund, dedicated to support independent delivery service partners and drivers|
|$10M||Amazon Literary Partnership, an emergency initiative for artists and writers|
|$5M||Total donated in devices globally for healthcare workers and education efforts|
|$1M||Donations matched to the non-profit Mary's Place|
|$1M||Towards emergency response efforts in Washington, D.C.|
In addition, Amazon donated 800 laptops to public schools in the Seattle area, and has raised workers’ hourly and overtime pay. In early April, CEO Jeff Bezos also donated $100 million to Feeding America, a non-profit food bank.
Technology is playing an immense role in tracking COVID-19 and the progress we’re making to end it. As a result, Microsoft is directing its financial efforts towards its AI for Health program.
|Healthcare||$20M||AI for Health initiative commitment to focus on front-lines of research|
|China-specific Relief||$6.5M||¥46M (US$6.5M) donated in cash and tech support for China’s fight against the virus|
|Relief Efforts||$1M||COVID-19 Response Fund, providing rapid-response grants to local businesses and vulnerable communities|
On top of these, Bill Gates officially stepped off the board of Microsoft in mid-March to focus on philanthropic efforts. The Gates Foundation has poured $100 million into funding for coronavirus research, and plans to pump billions more dollars into research in the coming weeks, to speed up vaccine development and manufacturing.
Finally, Apple is putting all its donations towards supporting public relief efforts, both in China and other affected parts of the world.
|Relief Efforts||$15M||Donations committed to global response efforts|
|China-specific Relief||$7M||¥50M (US$7M) donated to China’s long-term public health recovery efforts|
Further, Apple has donated 20 million masks to health workers, and aims to manufacture 1 million face shields per week.
Together, Microsoft and Apple contributed $2 million to the Seattle-based COVID-19 Response Fund, which has racked up $15.7 million in total donations to-date.
How the $1.25B Breaks Down
Looking at the information another way, how much money is flowing towards the various contribution categories?
Small businesses are the biggest beneficiaries of Big Tech’s economic relief, and understandably so—they are one of the most affected entities in the crisis. Healthcare research is also getting a boost, with funds focused on advancing potential treatments and vaccines in the pipeline, and supporting healthcare workers in the trenches of the pandemic.
|Category||Company Breakdown||Total Amount|
|Small Business||Alphabet: $575M|
|Media/ News||Facebook: $103M|
|Relief Efforts||Amazon: $72M|
|China-specific Relief||Apple: $7M|
As a majority of work and socializing migrates online, Big Tech has the most to benefit from the current situation. Their positive efforts to lend a helping hand may well be a strategy for uplifting their poor reputation in the media—but is it enough?
Some might argue that for these Big Tech companies, $1.25 billion is just a drop in the bucket. In fact, other Silicon Valley players are single-handedly matching these contributions, such as Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey who pledged $1 billion of his own equity towards relief efforts and education.
However, that’s also not to imply that these financial efforts are the only actions taken by the five companies in question. Many of them are building critical educational and data-driven technological solutions to help mitigate the COVID-19 situation as it unfolds.
It also goes without saying that the applications they’ve created are helping us remain connected and supported—making life in lockdown a little bit easier.
All data as of Apr 12, 2020. Many thanks to our community who sent in requests for this content.
Which Streaming Service Has the Most Subscriptions?
From Netflix and Disney+ to Spotify and Apple Music, we rank the streaming services with the most monthly paid subscriptions.
Which Streaming Service Has The Most Subscriptions?
Many companies have launched a streaming service over the past few years, trying to capitalize on the digital media shift and launching the so-called “streaming wars.”
After Netflix grew from a small DVD-rental company to a household name, every media company from Disney to Apple saw recurring revenues ripe for the taking. Likewise, the audio industry has long-since accepted Spotify’s rise to prominence, as streaming has become the de facto method of consumption for many.
But it was actually the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic that solidified the foothold of digital streaming, with subscription services seeing massive growth over the last year. Although it was expected that many new services would flounder along the way, media subscription services saw wide scale growth and adoption almost across the board.
We’ve taken the video, audio, and news subscription services with 5+ million subscribers to see who came out on top—and who has grown the most quickly—over the past year. Data comes from the FIPP media association as well as individual company reports.
Streaming Service Giants: Netflix and Amazon
The top of the streaming giant pantheon highlights two staples of business: the first-mover advantage and the power of conglomeration.
With 200+ million global subscribers, Netflix has capitalized on its position as the first and primary name in digital video streaming. Though its consumer base in the Americas has begun to plateau, the company’s growth in reach (190+ countries) and content (70+ original movies slated for 2021) has put it more than 50 million subscribers ahead of its closest competition.
The story is the same in the audio market, where Spotify’s 144 million subscriber base is more than double that of Apple Music, the next closest competitor with 68 million subscribers.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s position as the second most popular video streaming service with 150 million subscribers might be surprising. However, Prime Video subscriptions are included with membership to Amazon Prime, which saw massive growth in usage during the pandemic.
|Service||Type||Subscribers (Q4 2020)|
|Amazon Prime Video||Video||150.0M|
|Amazon Prime Music||Audio||55.0M|
|Tencent Music (Group)||Audio||51.7M|
|New York Times||News||6.1M|
Another standout is the number of large streaming services based in Asia. China-based Tencent Video (also known as WeTV) and Baidu’s iQIYI streaming services both crossed 100 million paid subscribers, with Alibaba’s Youku not far behind with 90 million.
Disney Leads in Streaming Growth
But perhaps most notable of all is Disney’s rapid ascension to the upper echelons of streaming service giants.
Despite Disney+ launching in late 2019 with a somewhat lackluster content library (only one original series with one episode at launch), it has quickly rocketed both in terms of content and its subscriber base. With almost 95 million subscribers, it has amassed more subscribers in just over one year than Disney expected it could reach by 2024.
|Service||Type||Percentage Growth (2019)|
|Amazon Prime Video||Video||100.0%|
|Amazon Prime Music||Audio||71.9%|
|Tencent Music (Group)||Audio||66.8%|
|New York Times||News||60.5%|
The Disney+ wave also spurred growth in partner streaming services like Hotstar and ESPN+, while other services with smaller subscriber bases saw large growth rates thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lingering question is how the landscape will look when the pandemic starts to wind down, and when all the new players are accounted for. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, for example, has reached over 30 million subscribers as of January 2021, but the company hasn’t yet disclosed how many are paid subscribers.
Likewise, competitors are investing in content libraries to try and make up ground on Netflix and Disney. HBO Max is slated to start launching internationally in June 2021, and ViacomCBS rebranded and expanded CBS All Access into Paramount+.
And international growth is vital. Three of the top six video streaming services by subscribers are based in China, while Indian services Hotstar, ALTBalaji, and Eros Now all saw surges in subscriber bases, with more room left to grow.
How Do Esports Companies Compare with Sports Teams?
With some esports companies more valuable than traditional sports teams, we visualize esports vs sports in franchise value.
How Do Esports Companies Compare with Sports Teams?
Are esports on the same level as “real” sports? These comparisons range from tricky to subjective, but the monetary value of companies speak for themselves.
The world’s largest esports companies have definitely risen to the occasion. Valued at almost half-a-billion dollars, they’ve started to pass some sports franchises in value.
In the above graphic, we compare Forbes’ valuation of the top 10 esports companies in 2020 against median franchises in the “Big Four” major leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL). Despite competitive gaming’s rapid growth, there’s still a long way left to go.
Esports Impress but NFL Teams Reign Supreme
The world’s top esports companies have grown quickly, and impressively.
As of 2018, there was only one esports company worth more than $300 million in valuation. By 2020, four of the top 10 were valued at more than $300 million.
|Esports Company||Games with Franchises||Value (2020)|
|TSM||League of Legends||$410M|
|Cloud9||League of Legends, Overwatch||$350M|
|Team Liquid||League of Legends||$310M|
|FaZe Clan||Call of Duty||$305M|
|100 Thieves||League of Legends, Call of Duty||$190M|
|Gen.G||League of Legends, Overwatch, NBA 2K||$185M|
|Enthusiast Gaming||Call of Duty, Overwatch||$180M|
|G2 Esports||League of Legends||$175M|
|NRG Esports||Call of Duty, Overwatch||$155M|
|T1||League of Legends||$150M|
When compared to traditional sports valuations, esports companies have already reached major league hockey status.
TSM, the world’s most valuable esports company in 2020, has a higher valuation than five NHL franchises. In fact, four esports companies were estimated to be more valuable than two NHL franchises, the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes.
But other sports leagues are further away. While the median value of an NHL franchise in 2020 was $520 million, the MLB, NBA, and NFL all saw median values of over $1.6 billion.
|Esports vs. Sports Franchises||Lowest Valued Team||Highest Valued Team||Median|
|Esports (Top 10)||$150M||$410M||$188M|
Differences in Esports vs Sports Structures and Growth
Try as we might to make a clean apples-to-apples comparison between esports and traditional sports teams, there are significant differences in the business models to consider.
For starters, major esports companies own multiple franchises and non-franchise teams across many games. Cloud9 owns both the eponymous Cloud9 League of Legends franchise and the London Spitfire Overwatch franchise, for example, as well as non-franchise teams in Halo, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and other games.
The revenue streams for esports companies are also extremely varied. Companies like TSM, 100 Thieves, FaZe Clan and Enthusiast Gaming made 50% or more of their revenue from outside of esports, having instead expanded into diverse companies with an equal focus on content creation and apps.
But it’s this greater ability to diversify, and the still-increasing size of esports fandom, that continues to grow esports valuations. In fact, TSM’s estimated 2020 revenue of $45 million is less than half of the Arizona Coyotes’ estimated revenue of $95 million, despite a $100+ million valuation difference in favor of TSM.
That’s why the continued maturation of esports is only going to make traditional sports comparisons easier, and closer. Instead of having to pit companies against franchises, direct league-to-league comparisons will be possible, and the differences will likely shrink from billions to millions.
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