2021 has been a journey for many technology companies around the world. With many struggling to adjust to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, others found new ways to go about their businesses and rise above the virus and other challenges 2021 was associated with.
Here are some of the top business headlines around the world that we can’t overlook for reasons related to new milestones, fundraising, startups, cryptocurrencies, etc.
Bitcoin Surpassed $20,000
At the beginning of the year, Bitcoin didn’t have as much buzz as it does now. The cryptocurrency was trading below $20,000 until it set a new milestone of $20,600 on the 16th of December 2020. The cryptocurrency wasn’t expected to surpass this new milestone in quite a long time as it took the cryptocurrency years to attain the milestone. The following weeks, months, that followed saw Bitcoin hit newer milestones. The cryptocurrency surpassed the $20,000 mark and continued to soar. It was receiving both attention and adoption. Following Elon Musk-owned electric vehicle company Tesla’s adoption of Bitcoin as a medium of exchange for Tesla cars, Bitcoin set new boundaries. Other companies also began to adopt Bitcoin into their operations.
Bitcoin eventually hit an all-time high of $69,000 this year. Although it’s been a quite turbulent year for Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency set really admirable milestones and the wave it brought along with it can still be felt in the way payments, storing of wealth, sending and receiving money, etc., are done.
Bitcoin Hit $1 Trillion In Market Capitalization
The weeks that ensued after December 2020 saw Bitcoin soar astronomically. The world’s biggest cryptocurrency hit a new market cap of $1 trillion dollars after hitting a new price of $55,000. Prior to that, it had a market cap of $970 billion and was trading around $50,000. One Bitcoin was worth about $28,700 in December 2020, and in such a short time, the cryptocurrency had doubled in value.
Bitcoin’s sudden surge was influenced by quite a number of factors and investments from companies. Electric car company Tesla invested in Bitcoin with the sum of $1.5 billion and started accepting cryptocurrency as a means of payment. America’s oldest bank BNY Mellon also started trading cryptocurrency for its client. Payments companies like Mastercard began to accept cryptocurrencies on their platform. Even mobile payment apps joined the train to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment.
Facebook Versus The Indian Government
Android 12 Got Released This Year
Google released the 12th instalment of its Android operating system. The operating system which was highly anticipated brought new features to the operating system.
Google served an improved user interface with the Android 12. The operating system operates on a material design called “Material You”. This brings more personalization and options for users. CPU time was reduced by 22 percent, meaning increased speed for Android phones. The operating system also prioritized users’ privacy. Other interesting features were added to the Android 12 which is a strong contender for Apple’s iOS.
Billionaire Richard Branson Visited Space Aboard Virgin Galactic Flight Ahead Of Jeff Bezos
English business magnate, adventurer, investor, author, and commercial astronaut Richard Branson travelled more than 50 miles above the New Mexico desert aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane and safely returned in the craft’s first fully crewed test flight to space, beating Amazon’s boss Jeff Bezos to it. Jeff Bezos had announced earlier that he planned on visiting space aboard his Blue Origin Shepard flight but Richard Branson made the visit first.
The billionaire’s space trip is of huge significance because the visit launched a new era in commercial space travel. Richard Branson, alongside other competitors like Jeff Bezos, wants to make commercial space flight possible and accessible to all. In the future, a visit to space could be as booking a flight to Paris, thanks to these steps made by adventurers and dare-devils like Richard Branson.
Blue Origin, Owned By Jeff Bezos, Visits Space
Blue Origin eventually received its license to take humans on its Shepard spacecraft from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following Richard Branson’s visit. Jeff Bezos; founder and former CEO of Amazon, alongside his brother Mark Bezos, flew to the edge of space on Blue Origin’s first-ever crewed voyage on July 20. It was another historic moment in the era of space travel and a pacesetter for commercial space travel.
Global Chip Shortage
If there is anything 2021 was characterized by, it has to be the shortage in chips needed to produce virtually everything we need, from cars to mobile phones, personal computers, etc. The global chip shortage was induced by the Coronavirus pandemic which forced chipmakers to either shut down or cut down on their operations because people were made to sit at home, the increasing demand for electronic devices and sanctions against Chinese Technology companies by the U.S. Government.
Chuck Robbins; Chief Executive Officer of networking giant company Cisco Systems, told BBC in an interview that the global chip shortage should last for about six months and get better twelve to eighteen months after that. He also stressed that with the continued expansion in technologies such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence, will continue to push the demand for semi-conductor chips higher. The founder of Dell Technologies in an interview with Handelsblatt newspaper mentioned that he expects the global chip shortage to last a few years.
El Salvador Adopts Bitcoin As A Legal Tender
This year, in what came as a huge unexpected surprise, Central American country El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender. This means the cryptocurrency is being used alongside its official currency – the United States dollar, as a means of payment. In June 2021, the Central American country first announced that it would be introducing Bitcoin into its mainstream economic system. In a video broadcast, El Salvador’s President – President Nayib Bukele, announced that El Salvador was partnering with Strike, a digital wallet company, to build the country’s modern financial infrastructure using blockchain technology.
The move was highly criticized by monetary bodies, some citizens and neighbouring countries but all these haven’t made the country’s decision-makers bulge or rescind its decision of making Bitcoin a legal tender.
The country subsequently announced that it was going to exempt foreign investors from paying tax on Bitcoin profits. This was done to encourage more foreign investments in the country. Weeks after officially launching Bitcoin as a legal tender, the country recorded 2.1 million citizens already using the Bitcoin wallet that the government issued.
In November, El Salvador announced plans to build Bitcoin City; an entire city based on Bitcoin. According to the information from President Nayib Bukele, “Bitcoin City” will be located along the Gulf of Fonseca situated near a volcano. The idea is to make the volcano a source of power for Bitcoin mining. It is the government’s plan to provide energy for both Bitcoin mining activities and the city from the volcano. During his presentation at Bitcoin week in November, El Salvador’s President elucidated that “Bitcoin City” will be a metropolis. According to him, it won’t just be a mining hub as people would imagine. He explained that the city is going to be a fully functional city with residential and commercial areas, restaurants, an airport as well as port and rail service. The plan for the city is to be laid out in a circle with a plaza that’ll host the Bitcoin symbol located right in the middle. The city will have no income, property, capital gains or payroll taxes, according to the President.
Hackers Rampage Crypto Firms, Steal Crypto Assets
One major highlight of this year is the crypto heist that happened. In August, over $600 million was stolen from crypto firm Poly Network, in what was concluded as the largest crypto heist in history. Poly Network, with cooperation from other exchange platforms said it was investigating the case. The hacker, known as White Hat, revealed that he did the hack to reveal the weakness of Poly Network’s systems and not because he needed the money. He agreed to return the money back to Poly Network and was offered a reward of $500,000 by Poly Network.
In December, there was another crypto attack on exchange platform Bitmart. $196 million worth of crypto assets was stolen from the platform. The hacker(s) stole more than 20 different tokens including Shiba Inu, Safemoon, Binance coin, etc. It still remains a mystery the possible methods the hacker(s) used to steal the funds but security firm Peckshield called it a classic case of “transfer-out, swap, and wash”. According to Peckshield, after stealing the fund from Bitmart, the hacker(s) used decentralized exchange aggregator “1inch” to exchange the stolen token for ether, after which the fund was deposited into a privacy mixer called Tornado Cash which makes it very hard to trace.
For The First Time Ever, The US Beat China To Become The Top Destination For Bitcoin Miners
The year has been quite a tough one for Bitcoin and its miners as they faced strict laws, regulations and eventually a ban from the Chinese government. Data from Cambridge University released in October crowned the US as the top destination for Bitcoin miners following the long hassle between the Chinese government and Bitcoin miners. China which was formerly a haven for Bitcoin miners became a literal hell following the series of crackdown actions that forced miners to either shut down operations or move out of the country. Thanks to these, the US soared to the forefront of the mining industry. Miners have moved or are moving to the US for a number of obvious reasons. A handful of American states have some of the world’s cheapest energy prices. Besides this, the US flourishes with renewable power sources and is therefore not dependent on one or a few power sources.
Singapore’s e-Commerce Company Sea Raised $6 Billion In What Is Southeast Asia’s Biggest Fundraising
Singaporean gaming and e-commerce company, Sea Ltd, raised $6 billion in an equity and convertible bond sale, in what is Southeast Asia’s biggest fundraising. The company priced 11 million American Depository Receipts (ADRs) and raised $2.5 billion in a convertible bond. The new capital raising came less than a year after the company had its first and major capital raising. In December 2020, Sea raised $2.57 billion in a discounted share sale at $195 a share. According to a statement, Sea priced the sale of 13.2 million American Depositary Shares at $195 each, increasing the size from 11 million because of strong demand. The company also finalized a $1 billion convertible bond sale in May 2020. With the new funds, Sea, Southeast Asia’s largest firm by market capitalization, planned to scale up its global expansion by entering into new markets. More specifically, Sea’s plan was to push its e-commerce platform Shopee into Europe and India. Sea added that the new capital would be used for general corporate purposes, including strategic investments and acquisitions.
Korean Series “Squid Game” Brought New Glory To Netflix With Record-breaking Achievements
Movie streaming platform Netflix had an amazing year if you ask us. Its earnings from quarter to quarter showed that the company managed to rise above the effects of the pandemic and even though there was a decline as people started returning to work and as things started returning to normal, the company still managed to stay afloat. The platform made a number of releases that sent waves around the world but one that really stood out was “Squid Game”. Squid Game is a Korean series based on survival games that players must win if not they lose their lives.
Squid game is Netflix’s first-ever show to surpass 100 million views in the first month. Netflix’s most viewed show was “Bridgerton’ which held the record of 82 million views in 28 days after its launch. Netflix’s “Squid Game” became a viral hit in its home country South Korea and numerous countries across the globe. It was so successful that a South Korean broadband provider sued the streaming service after the show caused a spike in traffic. In October, results by Netflix showed that two-third of its subscribers had seen squid game, a massive milestone if you ask us.
Facebook Became Meta
At the Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference held in October, social media and tech company Facebook announced the change of its corporate name from Facebook to Meta. The company said that the name change better reflects the company’s ambitions beyond social media; the new name encompasses the company’s drive into futuristic tech and other businesses that surpass the social media business that it started with. The company’s new name Meta was adopted from sci-fi terminology metaverse, used to describe the virtual world.
Google Announced Accelerator Program For African Startups
In November, tech titan Google announced that it will be receiving applications from 17 African countries for its upcoming virtual accelerator program scheduled to hold for three months. Startups who want to participate must be from the following 17 countries – Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Keya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. According to the company, startups from these selected 17 African countries can begin to send in their applications to be a part of the African edition of its virtual accelerator program scheduled to hold for three months in 2022. The virtual program, according to Google, is scheduled to run from March to May 2022, with a one-week virtual boot camp per month. Since the accelerator program launched in 2018, 67 startups including big names like Nigeria’s Piggyvest, Kenya’s Flexpay, Ghana’s OMG Digital, etc., across 17 African countries have graduated from the program. Startups that wish to participate in the 7th edition of the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa Program can apply here starting now. The application ends on the 14th of January, 2022.
Jack Dorsey’s Square Changes Corporate Name To Block
On the 10th of December, 2021, Jack Dorsey-owned payments company changed its corporate name from Square to Block, shortly after Jack stepped down from his position as Twitter’s CEO. The reason for the name change is quite similar to that of Facebook’s name change to Meta, as Square is expanding its business beyond its original credit card-reader business to focus on technologies such as blockchain which its founder seems to be crazy about. The company will, however, continue to trade under the ticker name “SQ” on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
We’ll all agree that it’s been a wild year for businesses and tech companies around the world. While companies witnessed some challenges this year as a number of factors relating to the pandemic and chip shortage, a better 2022 is already being expected as the chip shortage problem has slowly begun to dissipate and the pandemic is now being better managed.
Happy Holidays from us at Techbooky Business!