2022 has been somewhat of a mixed year in tech — both for consumers and those working in the industry. Whilst the big tech companies have struggled which subsequently led to large amounts of layoffs, there have been tech companies thriving like the BeReal app with their unique offering to users, posting once a day and asking users to be honest and real. Here is the round-up of some of the Tech news of 2022.
2022 showed that the tech industry is not immune to real-world problems like inflation. The pandemic kind of skewed the view that the tech industry could thrive regardless of what is going on in the world. But this year we saw all the big 5; Apple, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google), announce major layoffs and slow down on recruitment.
There are a few theories as to why the big 5 and others are downsizing. The first one is due to the major hiring spree they were doing during the pandemic and shortly after the lockdown restrictions had been lifted. During the lockdown, most of our lives, if not all, were online which led to consumers spending more money online. The knock-on effect of this meant that companies were making record amounts in profit. The demand became huge which caused a hiring frenzy for companies. As the world began to open up and consumers were let out, online spending decreased. This meant that companies were not making enough money as before, but now operating with an increased headcount and therefore had no options but to let people go.
Tech companies always tend to hire more than they need, mainly to protect themselves when a number of key employees move on. Factoring this in with the extra demand for their services or products meant that even more were hired than expected to help with the increase in demand they were facing.
One of the most interesting cases of hiring and then firing happened at Meta. Mark Zuckerberg had plans, and spent money, to go full-on with the Metaverse. This was seen from the beginning as a bold and very risky move. Meta needed to do something as it was losing the younger audience to TikTok while Apple made privacy changes that cost Meta billions of dollars in revenue. All of these things, plus Facebook feeling more like a social media space for an older audience, must have played on Mark’s mind causing him to do something different and drastic. Meta went on to spend billions of dollars and assigned thousands of employees to make Zuckerberg’s dream feasible. Unfortunately, this did not pay off and in September 2022 Meta announced it was cutting thousands of jobs, almost 11,000, impacting 13% of its global workforce.
With a lot of smart and very experienced people on the market do not be surprised that 2023 will see more startups being created meaning more job opportunities. The current crop of startups are already seeing opportunities despite the economic turbulence. 2023 might also see the recovery for a lot of these tech companies which could mean a slowdown in firing and more jobs on the market.
Last year’s blog talked about the potential of the crypto space and hype but this year the crypto space has been smeared with the FTX scandal and a lot of investors, both small and big, admit they have lost a huge amount of money. As 2021 created millionaires, 2022 seemed to have made potential criminals and trillions of dollars wiped out.
In May, the first major hit crypto took was with the sudden collapse of popular crypto coins like Bitcoin, which saw $400bn wiped out. With Bitcoin falling, the other popular digital coins began to fall with it. Then what followed was news of another popular crypto company Two Terra coins going bust. The founder, Do Kwon, was charged with fraud and breaches of capital markets law after the coins imploded back in May. He is believed to be involved in the £32.7bn collapse of the terraUSD and Luna coins. These numbers are astronomical and it’s the reason why he is wanted by the authorities.
Things did not stop there with crypto as celebrities were also caught in the storm. Top celebrities were ordered to pay a whopping £1.12m fine for the promotion of crypto coins on their Instagram page. The bad news in the crypto space continued, with major crypto companies like Celsius, Three Arrows Capital and BlockFi all going bankrupt in the space of months.
Bitcoin, which was seen as the barometer for crypto coins tanked. Bitcoin price around November 2021 was valued at £48,000 but by the end of 2022, its value was at £13,000.
The big news that really took over the crypto space was of course that Sam Bankman-Fried, also known as SBF, was arrested. SBF was the founder of FTX, one of the most trusted platforms, the world’s second-largest exchange and an entry point for millions to get into crypto. The company at one point was valued at over $30 billion, so it was a shock that it would file for bankruptcy by November 2022. SBF was seen as the “Crypto Robin Hood” which now seems laughable as investors and even the US government are wondering where all the money has gone. This news will definitely continue in 2023 but all this shows what a crazy year it has been in the crypto space.
What does the future hold for crypto?
Honestly, who knows? Is it the end of crypto? Probably not, but it could mean the space could be more regulated to avoid fraud and other criminal activities going on.
One of the surprises of 2022 in the tech industry to do well was BeReal. BeReal is a photo-sharing app that gives you a time window to post a photo from both your front and back cameras. The whole premise of the app is for users to be authentic and not to be drowned in the vast amount of posts we consume. You get a notification to take a picture of what you are doing at that moment in time. There are still ways to “stage” a post but for the most part, most users stick to the theme of being authentic. The app came out in 2020 but grew to fame in 2022, everybody was jumping on the bandwagon, and it became Apple’s top iPhone app of the year. It was even cloned by competitors, TikTok and Instagram both tried to imitate BeReal.
Will BeReal’s popularity continue in 2023?
It is very difficult to say, as the novelty of “being real” does wear off very quickly. It might be a passing fad but users still use it, with BeReal boasting up to 20 million active users. These numbers are very promising and should make BeReal want to expand and keep the app alive. The app will appeal to those who just want to remove the vanity we see on social media and see real things that most can relate to.
We cannot talk about 2022 in tech without mentioning Twitter.
We will start in March 2022, when Elon Musk starts to call out Twitter and question if they adhere to the principle of free speech. Then in early April 2022, Musk revealed that he is Twitter’s largest shareholder with a 9% stake. By the end of April, Musk sold Tesla shares worth roughly $8.5 billion to help fund the purchase of Twitter. On May 13th, Elon announced that the whopping $44 billion deal for Twitter was “temporarily on hold” after finding out that 5% of users were spam accounts. Then in June, things get heated between Musk and the Twitter board. Musk alleged that Twitter was refusing to give him data for the number of spam accounts. Elon then began to get frustrated and threaten to walk away unless Twitter provided proof of how many daily active users were actually spam. On June 21st, the board of Twitter unanimously recommended that shareholders approve the proposed $44 billion sale to Musk. Then things took another turn when on July 9th Musk demanded the termination of the deal as Twitter had failed to provide the data he wanted.
In July, as there seemed to be no resolution in sight, Twitter sued Musk to force him to complete the sale. Twitter believed that Musk’s actions hurt Twitter’s stock value and did irreparable harm. Then in October, Musk finally agreed to move ahead with the sale, maybe the threat of legal action forced him to rethink things. By the end of October Twitter had a new CEO. Elon announced this by tweeting “Let the good times roll”.
Elon takes over Twitter and things become very interesting and toxic pretty quickly. In the first week of November, Elon announces that it will charge $8 per month to verify the accounts of celebrities and businesses. This was not the strange part, but it was reported that Twitter employees were asked to work 12-hour shifts to accomplish the goal.
Anyone who works in software development or tech, in general, knows this was a disaster waiting to happen. With the new feature being extremely buggy and leading to even more fake accounts which scared advertisers, Musk was forced to suspend the move. The other big news announced in November was that Twitter was going to half its workforce. This was a necessary cost-cutting action, but the announcement (or lack thereof) was handled poorly. Employees didn’t know what was going on if they were still in a job or what direction the company was going in. More controversies as Musk announced that Twitter would be turning off certain microservices that he claimed were not necessary. Things got worse for employees on November 16, 2022, when Musk gave an ultimatum to Twitter staff to choose long working hours or to lose their job. This didn’t go well and a large number of employees chose to quit. Elon continued to raise questions about his reign by bizarrely running a poll if he should stay on as CEO of Twitter. It was no surprise that 57.5% of Twitter users who voted wanted him to resign. We will see in 2023 if Elon is true to his poll
2023 should bring more interesting news in tech and hopefully a lot less controversies and more on the progression of the tech industry. Eyes will continue to be on Twitter and see how things plan out with Musk at the helm. Could Crypto make a recovery in 2023 after 12 months of scrutiny and turmoil?