Back-to-Work Blues?
Bloomberg Businessweek|January 25, 2021
Tech boomed during the pandemic. It may not last
By Drake Bennett

The past year has been grim, solitary, and deeply traumatic. For the tech industry it’s been all those things, plus hugely lucrative. Silicon Valley has long specialized in technologies that compete with face-to-face social interaction, and this year the competition disappeared. “The pandemic has allowed us to test hypotheses that we were considering but have never dared testing fully,” says Diego Comin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth University who studies technology adoption. “Remote learning, massive virtual conferencing, leisure that has a large digital component. Because we don’t have any other alternative now, we had to try them with a positive attitude.” The companies behind those technologies—Zoom, Slack, DoorDash, Netflix, and Amazon, to name a few—have seen business go nuts amid a broader economic meltdown. But at some point, maybe even this year, things will start going back to normal. What happens then is an enormous unknown for the industry. Which of these new tools will keep their value when human contact is no longer freighted with contagion and death? Here are a few hypotheses.

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