This year has not been a great year for Big Tech. In 2022, the belt has tightened, with the economy faltering, stock prices falling, inflation soaring. Silicon Valley was one of the hardest hit places for him. One reason is that some of them have experienced explosive and sustained growth for so long that it seemed almost impossible to stop or even slow it down. Still, here I am.
With quarterly earnings calls beginning to use ominous terms like “economic headwinds” and business models upended, technology companies may be time to cut back on some loss-making projects and initiatives. I noticed. Some of them are big projects that companies have invested a lot of resources into, some of which they hope will pay off, and are, in Google’s words, “redefining what it is to be human.” As those resources dried up, efforts that might never see the light of day became obvious targets for cuts. are low, and a deteriorating economy has made the runway much shorter to make them happen.
Mark Zuckerberg continues to invest huge amounts of money in the Metaverse as he claims it is the future of his company and the internet. must be procured.
The ending of certain things probably won’t do much for our planet’s future, but the ending of some of these humanity-redefining moonshots could be a bigger loss. but none have been really successful, except for Waymo. At least one of them (a project called Minerals, an Alphabet project that wants to make food production more sustainable) is now being used by berry growers to test strawberries. everyone else.
Below are some of the more ambitious bets and more grounded projects that didn’t pay off in 2022.
Meta had some big problems in 2022. Apple’s 2021 rollout of app privacy changes that let users opt out of tracking across apps cost the company billions of dollars. Meta can use some of that data to target ads and tell businesses how those ads performed, so businesses sell more ads for more money. You will be able to
Meta laid off more than 11,000 employees in November, and the stock continued to plummet to historic lows. This reduction also meant saying goodbye to some of the non-metaverse hardware. The division has never done too much against the meta, in any case. RIP Portal is a camera that Facebook has installed in the kitchen. Also a smartwatch that didn’t get a chance to see the world. Could Meta’s smart sunglasses be next? It also truncated newsletter service Bulletin, which never caught on like Substack (Twitter has its own newsletter Revue rounded up, but it’s not clear if it’s because of the economy or Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk). Meta’s experimental product division is now reportedly scaled back to focus solely on short videos (very TikTok!), and recently launched a connectivity division that developed or improved how we access the internet. Closed.
Google and its parent company Alphabet do better than Meta in 2022. X, its famous ‘moonshot factory’, has a track record of flopping even in the best of times. One X Project Loon, which used weather balloons to send internet to remote areas but was shut down in 2021, has been spun off into an independent company. Area 120, Google’s incubator for employees to work on the company’s experimental ideas, has been scaled back. The Pixelbook, Google’s attempt to make an expensive Chromebook, has been discontinued. The Google Assistant team is undergoing significant headcount reductions. Also, Google’s cloud gaming service, Stadia, will be shutting down in January. Google also just pulled out of its long-planned data center construction (Meta also canceled data center work).
Amazon also faces some problems. Layoffs are looming and stock prices are down 50% for him in 2022 alone. The company has either closed or is not moving forward with plans to build several warehouses and distribution facilities. There are also product cutbacks, such as the reported reduction of Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa. Alexa is expensive and not very profitable (much like Google Assistant). Glow, a video calling device for kids, was completed just one year after its debut. His telemedicine service, Amazon Care, will end in 2022, but Amazon spent billions earlier this year to acquire his one primary care and telemedicine service, One Medical. Amazon’s Moonshot-like division, Grand Challenge Labs, reportedly closed three of its five projects in October. Wickr, the end-to-end encrypted messaging app that Amazon acquired last year, will also be discontinuing its free version at the end of 2023, as will Drive, its cloud storage service.
And Apple and Microsoft. They’ve been around longer and have more recession experience, which may be why they’re doing better than their rivals. But the mysterious Apple Car is clearly scaled back (it won’t be fully self-driving) and is another year behind. It may have more to do with the non-existence of technology than the economy. However, Apple is expanding its advertising offerings. This could be a way to bring in extra income when people are cutting back, perhaps including buying Apple devices. It seems to be pausing its efforts to make its HoloLens VR headset a problem as well. However, the company has seen much worse times, with much more expensive flops over the years.
There are also some Big Tech-adjacent cuts. Snap, which was hit particularly hard by the changes in the advertising industry, scrapped its short-lived selfie drone, the Pixy, as inventory plummeted and it laid off thousands of employees. Snap is also actively working to monetize its AR division. Kitty Hawk, a Larry Page-backed attempt to create a flying car, made an emergency landing in reality and shut down. Twitter took a big hit, but that’s okay because of other factors.
Some streaming platforms have also struggled. Once one of his biggest success stories in the business, Netflix was losing subscribers and had to introduce advertising. Disney+ rolled out its own low-cost ad tier while increasing prices for its ad-free service.The merger of Warner Media and Discovery brought some big changes and cuts. While he’s been live on CNN+ for less than a month, HBO Max has shut down several ongoing projects and removed others from the platform entirely.
So yes, it hasn’t been a great year for Big Tech, Big Tech-adjacent companies, and cool experiments that require many years and money to have any chance of success. Buzzwords that promised to be the industry’s future earlier this year — Web3, metaverse, crypto — are currently on fire, if not forever. We are just seeing the potential of generative AI. The effort is led not by a tech giant, but by a relatively new company called OpenAI. For all the moonshot projects that are making huge profits, Big Tech may have missed its future. At least until the next big thing comes along.