There is little doubt that 2020 will go down as one of the most historic years ever. From worldwide lockdowns to major shifts in global markets, COVID-19 changed how just about everything operated.
While people were stuck at home, hiding from a virus that still managed to infect over 780 million people as of June 2023, companies faced an even more significant challenge—staying solvent while industries and economies came to a screeching halt.
For some, lockdowns were the push they needed to innovate their products or services, leading to a boom in business that couldn’t have been predicted otherwise. However, for others, the lack of revenue meant closing their doors permanently.
Keep reading to learn about five companies that thrived during the pandemic and continue to do so to this day. You’ll also learn about five that went belly up, even after most of the world returned to normal.
Five Companies That Thrived
It is no surprise that Amazon—one of the largest companies in the world—is at the top of the list of companies that excelled during and after the pandemic. With people forced into their homes, the online e-commerce giant was the natural provider of everything from hand sanitizer to ways to stay entertained while in quarantine.
The company, which posted a revenue of $386.06 billion at the end of 2020, saw a growth of 37.62% in turnover compared to 2019. This massive increase, however, has continued into 2023. In 2021, the company saw another increase of 21.7% (ending with $469.82 billion) and a further 9.4% year-on-year increase (to $513.98 billion) in 2022.
While nobody was caught unaware by the meteoric rise of Zoom video conferencing software during the multitudes of the pandemic, many thought this growth would fizzle out post-pandemic. After all, as more people return to physical office spaces, the software is needed less and less.
Incredibly, however, the company has continued to thrive and is still used as a replacement for physical meetings. Growing from a value of $620 million in 2019 to $2.6 billion in 2020, the company has moved from strength to strength and was valued at $4.39 billion in 2022 (an increase of 608% from 2019).
3. Kaspersky Lab
With millions working online, cyber security was one of the most prominent boomers during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the realization that security was important has lasted long past lockdowns and remote work arrangements.
Kaspersky Lab, one of the forerunners of cyber security around the world, was one company that received full benefit from this enlightenment. The company, posting revenue of just over $600 million in 2019, grew to around $752.5 million in 2022.
As one of the best ways to stay entertained, the video game industry experienced a massive boost during the pandemic. Steam, the largest online PC game store, experienced a significant surge in monthly players during the pandemic and has continued to thrive long after.
In 2019, the platform had an average concurrent user base of 17.6 million players. However, in 2020, this jumped by 40% to 24.8 million. After 2020, this number climbed a further 29.8% to reach 32.2 million in early 2023. As such, the company’s revenue rose to around $10 billion in 2022.
Already a giant in the online payment space, PayPal is yet another company that benefited massively due to the surge in online purchasing of anything and everything and online gambling through platforms like casinos.com during the pandemic. However, while the profits of pandemic spending were initially thought to dwindle as life returned to normal, PayPal has continued to see meaningful growth.
Following an increase in revenue of 20.72% year on year from 2019 to 2020, the company’s value grew to $21.45 billion. The total revenue in 2022 was $27.51 billion, rising 18.26% from 2020 to 2021 and a further 8.46% from 2021 to 2022.
Five Companies That Didn’t Survive
1. JC Penney
Established in 1902, JC Penny was one of the largest department stores in America. While the company was already struggling to compete with online e-commerce giants taking over the market, COVID-19 was the final nail in the coffin.
In May 2020, the company officially filed for bankruptcy, unable to weather the storm and withstand the lockdowns even early in the pandemic.
Another clothing brand already struggling before the pandemic hit was J.Crew. With $1.7 billion in debt by 2020, the company struggled to compete with online retailers. Sadly, just a few months into the pandemic, it was forced to file for bankruptcy and close all retail locations.
3. Hertz Global Holdings Inc.
Hertz has always been a popular car rental and car sales provider. However, with the almost non-existent travel industry during the pandemic, the company could no longer service its more than $20 billion debt. Therefore, it was forced to declare bankruptcy and, as of 2021, was still attempting to sell its fleet to pay back creditors.
4. Bed Bath and Beyond
As one of the most loved homeware stores in the USA, Bed Bath and Beyond has even been featured in multiple Hollywood blockbusters. However, it was already facing a losing battle against e-commerce giants before COVID-19 appeared.
The company, which owed almost $95 million to just 14 suppliers, managed to stay afloat post-pandemic for two full years. However, in 2023, the company couldn’t service its debts and officially filed for bankruptcy protection in April.
5. Guitar Center
As the country’s most significant musical instrument provider, Guitar Center was a money-printing machine before COVID-19, posting a revenue of $2.3 billion in 2019. However, lockdowns quickly changed things, and even with online sales, the company, which had over 269 locations around the country, couldn’t recover.
Faced with over $1.3 billion in debt, the group declared bankruptcy in November 2020.