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$460B and a black swan: a corona tale

João Simões de Abreu
Mar 13 · 3 min read
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It seems that 2020 has been nothing but coronavirus. At the time this article is being written, nearly 5,000 people have died from COVID-19 and more than 50,000 are infected. Countries on lockdown, events being canceled, companies sending their teams home and, on top of this, the big uncertainty over what’s going to happen in the upcoming months. We should all brace ourselves for the impact this will have on our families, companies, countries and the global economy.

Since January 30th, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency, FAMGA — Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon — have lost more than 460 billion dollars in market capitalization, according to data from CB Insights. The corona-induced market turmoil (and the oil-price war) sent the stock market on a nose-dive.

Due to its delivery service, which might be more requested in times of confinement, Amazon is the only one that’s surviving the chaos, even though nearly 40% of its sellers are based in China, where the coronavirus outbreak first started. On the other hand, since WHO set the alarm bells, Facebook has seen a 15% fall on its stock price, Apple decreased its market cap by 11.9%, Microsoft by 6.9% and Google’s parent company — Alphabet — plunged 12.4%. Altogether, more than 460 billion dollars have vanished from some of the most successful tech companies in the world.

Sequoia Capital, one of the best reputed VC firms in the startup ecosystem, sent a letter to all its stakeholders earlier this month (find it here), where it shares its economic forecast for 2020: due to COVID-19, a Black Swan might be ahead of us. Although some companies can benefit from the chaos, namely the ones that fulfill the needs that arise from the pandemic, such as e-commerce enterprises, most businesses will face challenges in three different ways:

- A drop in business activity: many companies have seen their growth drop sharply between December and February;

- Supply chain disruptions: China is the main motor of many industries. With the country´s lockdown, the global supply chains are being highly affected by the state of emergency. Hardware and retail companies are the most punished;

- Curtailment of travel and canceled meetings: many of us are already experiencing this. Many companies in frontline countries have banned all unnecessary meetings and international trips. This not only affects travel companies but also enterprises that require in-person meetings to conduct sales, develop their businesses or establish partnerships.

The stock market’s bull has hit a wall and the bear has taken over. Bloomberg´s predictions point out that the chance of a recession in the US within the next year now stands at 53%, the highest percentage since the country exited the Great Recession in 2009.

Dodging a crisis seems inevitable. As Sequoia points out, “nobody regrets making fast and decisive adjustments to changing circumstances […] In some ways, business mirrors biology. As Darwin surmised, those who survive ´are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most capable to change. ´”

It’s certain that some of you — and us — will be directly or indirectly impacted by the virus. Our thoughts are with everyone and every company that’s facing or will face turbulent times. Wishing all of you Godspeed.

The Square

The communication office for market challengers, disrupters…

João Simões de Abreu

Written by

The Square

The communication office for market challengers, disrupters and brave entrepreneurs.

João Simões de Abreu

Written by

The Square

The communication office for market challengers, disrupters and brave entrepreneurs.

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