List of Big tech companies that failed in 2022
Big Tech did not have a good year this year. The economy tanked, stocks dropped, inflation shot through the roof, and people had to tighten their belts in 2022. One of the areas that were most hit was Silicon Valley, in part because some of its businesses had grown so rapidly and steadily for so long that it almost seemed impossible for them to slow down or even halt. Even nevertheless, here we are.
Tech businesses realized it might be time to scale back on a few money-losing projects and initiatives as quarterly earnings call started to employ scary language like “economic headwinds” and business models were altered. Some of these involved significant investments from businesses in the hopes that a select few would succeed and, in Google’s words, “redefine humanity.”
With those resources running out, it became clear that projects that might never even come close to being realized should be cut. Some of what was lost were considerably less ambitious, simply unprofitable products or services, and the runway to get them there was much shorter due to the worsening economy.
Furthermore, Mark Zuckerberg insists that the metaverse is the future of both the internet and his company, Meta, which is continuing to invest a sizable sum of money in it. However, this investment may never pay off. Even those money, though, must now originate from another part of the business.
The demise of some of these humanity-redefining moonshots might be a greater loss even though it won’t likely have much of an impact on the planet’s future. But none of them ever really took off, with the probable exception of Waymo. A berry grower is currently using one of them, an Alphabet initiative called Mineral that aims to increase the sustainability of food production, to investigate strawberries, which seems like the kind of thing that will benefit the berry grower and Google more than the rest of us.
Here are some of the riskier bets and more sensible initiatives from 2022 that didn’t pan out:
In 2022, Meta faced numerous difficulties. Apple spent billions on the app privacy enhancements it introduced in 2021 that let customers choose not to be tracked across applications. Some of that information is used by Meta to target advertisements to you and provide information to businesses on the effectiveness of those advertisements, allowing them to sell more advertisements at a higher price.
As its stock continued to fall to record lows, Meta fired more than 11,000 workers in November. Its non-metaverse hardware division, which has never contributed much to Meta, had to be eliminated as part of that reduction. Facebook’s kitchen camera, Portal, has passed away. Likewise, the smartwatch was never given the opportunity to travel. Could Meta’s intelligent glasses be the next?
The newsletter service Bulletin, which failed to gain traction the way Substack did, was also discontinued. Twitter also discontinued its own newsletter, Revue, though it’s unclear whether this was due to the state of the economy or because Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, was to blame. According to reports, Meta recently shut down its connectivity division, which created or enhanced methods of connecting to the internet, and is now supposedly narrowing its attention to simply short films (like TikTok!).
In 2022, Google and its parent organization, Alphabet, performed better than Meta. However, things weren’t really getting better, and there are speculations that Google would also soon be making some layoffs. Even in the most favorable circumstances, its renowned “moonshot factory,” X, has a history of failures. One X project was spun out into a separate firm, Loon, which attempted to use weather balloons to beam internet to remote locations and was shut down in 2021.
The Google incubator known as Area 120, where staff members may collaborate on innovative ideas for the corporation, has been reduced. Google’s attempt to produce a premium Chromebook, the Pixelbook, has been discontinued. The Google Assistant team has seen significant reductions. And in January, Google’s cloud gaming platform Stadia will be discontinued. Google recently abandoned plans to construct a long-awaited data center (Meta has also canceled work on data centers).
Amazon is currently experiencing some issues. Its stock price has fallen by 50% only in 2022, and layoffs are imminent. The company is dissolving or abandoning its ambitions to construct a number of warehousing and delivery facilities. There are also product reductions, such as the allegedly reduced availability of Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, which is expensive and makes little money (much like Google Assistant).
A year after its release, Glow, a kid-friendly video calling device, is finished. Even though Amazon spent billions this year to purchase One Medical, another primary care and telemedicine business, the telehealth service Amazon Care will stop in 2022. Three out of five initiatives were apparently terminated by Amazon’s moonshot-like Grand Challenge lab in October. At the end of 2023, Wickr, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app that Amazon recently acquired, will stop offering its free version, along with Drive, a cloud storage service.
Microsoft and Apple are also included. Since they have been around longer, they have greater experience dealing with economic downturns, which could be the reason why they are both doing better than their competitors. Even though the mysterious Apple Car has purportedly been trimmed back (it won’t be fully autonomous) and delayed another year, it is still expected that Apple will release a VR headset in 2023. It’s possible that the economy is less of a factor in it than the lack of technology.
Nevertheless, Apple is extending its ad offers, which could be a means to generate additional cash at a time when consumers are making cuts that may include those to their Apple product purchases. In regards to Microsoft, experienced some layoffs in 2022 and appears to be pausing its efforts to reenter the consumer market. Additionally, there appear to be some troubles with its HoloLens VR device. However, the business has experienced worse circumstances and had more costly failures throughout the years.
There are a few cuttings that are near Big Tech as well. The short-lived Pixy selfie drone was discontinued by Snap as its stock plummeted and it laid off thousands of employees. Snap was particularly hard hit by changes in the advertising industry. Additionally, Snap is stepping up its efforts to make its AR division profitable. The flying car project Kitty Hawk, financed by Larry Page, made an emergency landing and shut down. Twitter was completely destroyed, but we can reasonably attribute that to other things.
Several streaming services are also having difficulties. Netflix, once one of the largest success stories in the industry, is losing members and has been forced to use advertisements, which was previously off-limits for the firm. Disney+ recently increased the cost of its ad-free option while launching a separate, lower-cost ad tier. Major adjustments and cuts were made as a result of the Warner Media-Discovery merger. CNN+ launched less than a month after it was announced, while HBO Max canceled certain upcoming programs and completely withdrew other shows from the service.
So yeah, not a great year for Big Tech, Big Tech-related businesses, and innovative projects that required several years and substantial funding to have a chance of succeeding. Web3, the metaverse, and crypto, the industry’s hyped-up future technologies, have burned out for the time being, if not permanently. We’re only just beginning to see the possibilities of generative AI, an initiative being spearheaded by a relatively young company called OpenAI rather than a corporate behemoth. Big Tech might have missed the boat on its own future despite all of its costly moonshot initiatives. Until the next big thing emerges, at least.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma