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Meet the 5 Companies Aiming to Bring the Web to 4.3 Billion New People

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Meet the 5 Companies Aiming to Bring the Web to 4.3 Billion New People

Meet the 5 Companies Aiming to Bring the Web to 4.3 Billion New People

Infographic sponsored by: Datawind

The internet is an essential part of our daily lives, but it is actually only used by a minority of the world’s population. 4.3 billion people across the world do not yet have access to the web.

In fact, there are seven countries where more than 100 million people are not yet connected: Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, India, and Indonesia.

Internet penetration in developed countries such as the United States and Canada is high, averaging about 74%. However, in some of the world’s most populous regions, only about one in five people have access.

In the coming decades, we will see a great revolution as billions of new people get instant access to knowledge, tools, communication, and opportunities for the first time. A study by Deloitte concludes that bringing internet access to developing countries could boost productivity worldwide by 25%, generate $2.2 trillion in GDP, create 140 million new jobs, and lift 160 million people out of poverty.

The Challenge

With many of the world’s brightest minds and entrepreneurs not yet connected to the web, it remains to be seen what new world-shaping technologies and companies will be born.

However, connecting 4.3 billion people to the grid is no easy feat. Many people with no internet access live in remote areas without infrastructure or even reliable water or power. Solving these issues creates one of the largest and most challenging business opportunities the world has seen.

To succeed, companies must be bold, while thinking bigger and outside of the box. Here are the companies and technologies that will further connect our world:

Big Tech

In 2014, Facebook made $4.8 billion from online ad revenue and Google made $19.1 billion. Together, that comprises 50% of all online ad revenues.

If the worldwide audience for their services grows, that means a much bigger target audience for their services. As a result, both companies have been making big investments to build their networks.

Google is aiming to cover the sky with floating celltowers and solar-powered drones. Project Loon, officially launched as a Google project in 2013, aims to send thousands of high-flying hot air balloons 10-20km into the stratosphere to broadcast internet to the ground over remote areas. The balloons use algorithms to read wind currents and navigate the globe, all while beaming down an internet signal.

Google has broken its own records for flight duration, having a balloon that lasted 187 days in the air, circumnavigating the globe nine times and passing over more than a dozen countries on four continents along the way.

Google also outbid Facebook for Titan Aerospace in 2014 for $60 million. Titan builds the world’s biggest solar powered drones. These can also broadcast internet to the ground, and are described by Google as “exactly where Project Loon was two years ago in development.”

Facebook is also experimenting with satellites and drones. However, the bulk of its operations to expand the internet’s reach are through its newly formed Internet.org initiative founded in 2013. Partnering with telecoms and mobile operators like Microsoft and Samsung, Internet.org has launched apps in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Colombia, Ghana, and India.

Internet.org provides free access to basic internet services since it is the cost of data is one of the biggest challenges for people to absorb in developing countries. However, Facebook has been criticized for Internet.org because of the practice of zero-rating. Making some services free while having others cost money is at the heart of the debate on net neutrality.

Innovative Technology

Aside from Big Tech, there are other companies taking big steps to bringing the internet to the rest of the planet.

While most of the developed world accesses internet through broadband, the cost of building the infrastructure for such networks make it a less feasible endeavour for most remote regions. That is why 90% of the world does not have fixed broadband access.

Even if it existed, the cost of broadband is very expensive for people in developing countries, costing 27% of monthly gross income on average. However, Datawind has found another way to tackle the problem. Datawind has developed proprietary technology to reduce the amount of data being transmitted over cellular networks by approximately 20X on average.

This allows them to provide internet access to the 93% of the world that does have mobile access mostly through 2G coverage. By turning 1MB of data into 0.05MB and pairing this service with building some of the world’s cheapest tablets and smartphones, Datawind is able to bring internet browsing costs to as low as $0.70 per month.

O3b Networks, backed by Google and HSBC, is solving the traditional problem with satellite networks: latency.

The company has a growing constellation of satellites that orbit the Earth at 8,000km, about 4X closer than traditional geosynchronous satellites. The resulting signal provides internet speeds that rival fiberoptic networks.

BRCK, designed an prototyped in Kenya, is a rugged and portable hotspot that can broadcast WIFI or a cell signal via multiple networks. BRCK has its own power source and can be recharged via solar power. The battery lasts for eight hours in full power mode in the case of blackouts, a common problem in Africa and the developing world.

Conclusion

The internet impacts nearly every aspect of modern society and serves as a powerful economic stimulator. The opportunity to connect 4.3 billion people to the internet is not only a business opportunity, but one that will improve everyone’s standard of living.

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The World’s Top 50 Influencers Across Social Media Platforms

Which influencers have the most total social media followers? We tally up follower counts across all major platforms, from Twitter to TikTok.

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Most-followed social media influencers across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch

Visualizing the World’s Top 50 Influencers

In the modern digital world, social media reach is power.

The people with the most followers on Twitter, for example, have a massive platform to spread their messages, while those with large, engaged followings on Instagram are an advertiser’s dream sponsor partner.

Social media can also be an equalizer of power. It’s true that many celebrities boast large followings across platforms, but social media has also enabled previously unknown personalities to turn YouTube or TikTok fame into veritable star power and influence.

Who has the biggest reach across the entire social media universe? Instead of looking at who has the most followers on Instagram, Twitter, or other networks, we ranked the most-followed personalities across all major platforms combined.

Who Has the Most Overall Followers on Social Media?

We parsed through hundreds of the most-followed accounts on multiple platforms to narrow down the top influencers across social media as of April 2021.

Sources include trackers of the most followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok, verified directly on site and with social media tracker Socialblade.

The results? A top 50 list of social media influencers consisting of athletes, musicians, politicians, and other personalities.

RankNameCategoryTotal FollowersBiggest Platform
#1Cristiano RonaldoSports517MInstagram
#2Justin BieberMusic455MInstagram
#3Ariana GrandeMusic429MInstagram
#4Selena GomezMusic425MInstagram
#5Taylor SwiftMusic361MInstagram
#6Dwayne JohnsonFilm & TV342MInstagram
#7Katy PerryMusic338MInstagram
#8Kylie JennerOther333MInstagram
#9RihannaMusic332MTwitter
#10Kim KardashianOther319MInstagram
#11Lionel MessiSports298MInstagram
#12NeymarSports283MInstagram
#13ShakiraMusic282MFacebook
#14Jennifer LopezMusic277MInstagram
#15BeyoncéMusic267MInstagram
#16Ellen DeGeneresFilm & TV260MInstagram
#17Miley CyrusMusic235MInstagram
#18Nicki MinajMusic232MInstagram
#19Barack ObamaPolitics221MTwitter
#20Will SmithFilm & TV217MFacebook
#21Kendall JennerOther212MInstagram
#22Demi LovatoMusic211MInstagram
#23Lady GagaMusic210MTwitter
#24Kevin HartFilm & TV201MInstagram
#25Virat KohliSports195MInstagram
#26EminemMusic194MFacebook
#27DrakeMusic192MInstagram
#28Khloé KardashianOther191MInstagram
#29Bruno MarsMusic191MFacebook
#30Chris BrownMusic187MInstagram
#31Vin DieselFilm & TV177MFacebook
#32Narendra ModiPolitics175MTwitter
#33Justin TimberlakeMusic175MTwitter
#34Billie EilishMusic171MInstagram
#35Charli D'AmelioOther169MTikTok
#36Kourtney KardashianOther165MInstagram
#37Cardi BMusic160MInstagram
#38LeBron JamesSports157MInstagram
#39AdeleMusic156MFacebook
#40Priyanka ChopraFilm & TV144MInstagram
#41Germán GarmendiaGaming143MYoutube
#42Wiz KhalifaMusic142MFacebook
#43Felix "PewDiePie" KjellbergGaming141MYoutube
#44Akshay KumarFilm & TV140MInstagram
#45Snoop DoggMusic138MInstagram
#46Deepika PadukoneFilm & TV138MInstagram
#47Britney SpearsMusic137MTwitter
#48Shawn MendesMusic136MInstagram
#49Whindersson Nunes BatistaOther135MInstagram
#50Salman KhanFilm & TV134MFacebook

Unsurprisingly, celebrities reign supreme on social media. As of April 2021, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was the most-followed person on social media with more than 500 million total followers.

But there are other illuminating highlights, such as the global reach of music. With large and diverse fanbases, artists account for half of the top 50 largest social media followings.

Also notable is the power of Instagram, which was the biggest platform for 67% of the top 50 social media influencers. This includes hard-to-categorize celebrities like the Kardashians and Jenners, which turned reality TV and social media fame into business and media empires.

Download the Generational Power Report (.pdf)

The Generational Power Index

The Most Followers on Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube

However, it’s not only celebrities that dominate social media.

Personalities that started on one social media platform and developed massive followings include TikTok’s most-followed star Charli D’Amelio and YouTubers Germán Garmendia, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, and Whindersson Nunes Batista.

Politicians were also prominent influencers. Former U.S. President Barack Obama has the most followers on Twitter, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more than 175 million followers across social media.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump would have also made the list with more than 140 million followers across social media before being banned from multiple platforms on January 8, 2021.

A Generational Look at Social Media Influence

While older generations have had to adapt to social media platforms, younger generations have grown up alongside them. As a measure of cultural importance, this gives Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z a rare leg-up on older generations.

Millennials, in particular, hold the lion’s share of spots in this top 50 list:

Generation# of Influencers in GenerationTop Influencer in Generation
Gen Z4Kylie Jenner
Millennial33Cristiano Ronaldo
Gen X10Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson
Baby Boomer3Ellen DeGeneres

The average age of the top 50 influencers was just over 37.

In our Generational Power Index (GPI), which measures the share of power generations hold in various categories, digital platforms were a key area where Millennials derived their power and influence. Overall, Baby Boomers—and to a lesser extent, Gen X—still run the show in most areas of society today.

Social Media Influence, Going Forward

As most fans and advertisers know, not all social media accounts and followings are homogenous.

Many influencers with relatively small followings have more consistent engagement, and are often able to demand high advertising fees as a result.

Conversely, most social media platforms are reckoning with a severe glut of fake accounts or bots that inflate follower counts, impacting everything from celebrities and politicians to personalities and businesses.

Regardless, social media has become a mainstay platform (or soapbox) for today’s cultural influencers. Billions of people turn to social media for news, engagement, recommendations, and entertainment, and new platforms are always on the rise.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the data used for this story incorrectly counted Facebook likes instead of followers for some personalities. The content has since been corrected and updated.”

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Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Cultural Power?

Visual Capitalist’s first-ever Generational Power Index looks at which U.S. generation holds the most cultural influence in American society.

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cultural power GPI

Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Cultural Power?

This year, our team put together Visual Capitalist’s inaugural Generational Power Index (GPI), which looks at power dynamics across generations in America.

We considered three categories in our quest to quantify power: economics, political, and cultural. And while it turns out Baby Boomers dominate when it comes to economics and political factors—cultural influence is a different story.

Here’s a look at which U.S. generation holds the most cultural power, and how this power dynamic is expected to shift in the coming years.

Generations and Power, Defined

Before we get started, it’s important to clarify which generations we’ve included in our research, along with their age and birth year ranges.

GenerationAge range (years)Birth year range
The Silent Generation76 and over1928-1945
Baby Boomers57-751946-1964
Gen X41-561965-1980
Millennials25-401981-1996
Gen Z9-241997-2012
Gen Alpha8 and below2013-present

Using these age groups as a framework, we then calculated the Cultural Power category using these distinct equally-weighted variables:

cultural power category breakdown

With this methodology in mind, here’s how the Cultural Power category shakes out, using insights from the GPI.

Share of Cultural Power by Generation

Overall, we found that Gen X captures the largest share of cultural power, at 36%.

GenerationCultural Power Share
The Silent Generation8.8%
Baby Boomers25.1%
Gen X36.0%
Millennials23.9%
Gen Z6.1%
Gen Alpha0.00%
Total99.9%

*Note: figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Gen X is particularly dominant in the film and TV industry, along with news media. For instance, over half of America’s largest news corporations have a Gen Xer as their CEO, and roughly 50% of Oscar winners in 2020 were members of Gen X.

Baby Boomers come in second place, capturing a 25% share of cultural power. They show particular dominance in traditional entertainment like books and art. For example, 42% of the authors on the NYT’s best-selling books list were Baby Boomers.

However, these older generations fall short in one critical category—digital platforms.

The Dominance of Digital

Why is digital so important when it comes to cultural power? Because digital media becoming increasingly more popular than traditional media sources (e.g. TV, radio).

GPI Cultural Power By Generation Supplemental Time Spent on Media

In 2020, Americans spent nearly 8 hours per day consuming digital media, nearly two hours more per day than they spent with traditional media.

This divide is expected to grow even further over the next few years. With younger generations dominating the digital space, Gen X may soon lose its place as the top dog of the culture category.

Celebrity 2.0: The Social Influencer

As audiences flock to online channels, advertisers have followed suit—and they’re willing to spend good money to gain access to their target demographics.

In fact, spend on influencer marketing has steadily increased in the last five years, and it’s expected to reach $13.8 billion by the end of 2021.

GPI Cultural Power By Generation Supplemental Influencer Marketing Spend

This shift to social media advertising is redefining the notion of celebrity, and who reaps the financial benefits of content creation. For instance, six-year-old Vlogger Like Nastya made an estimated $7.7 million per month from her YouTube channel in 2020. And keep in mind, this estimate is purely based on YouTube revenue—it doesn’t even include corporate partnerships and/or merchandise sales.

With all these shifts occurring, culture as we know it is at a crossroads. And as we continue to move towards a digital dominant society, those who hold power in traditional realms will either adapt or pass along the torch.

Download the Generational Power Report (.pdf)

The Generational Power Index

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