/Zoom, DoorDash, Peloton led fastest-growing tech companies in 2020
Zoom, DoorDash, Peloton led fastest-growing tech companies in 2020

Zoom, DoorDash, Peloton led fastest-growing tech companies in 2020

Zoom founder Eric Yuan speaks before the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City.

Got Betancur | Getty Images

In a boom year for technology, a handful of U.S. software and digital commerce companies powered through the pandemic with such explosive growth that their business is now more than twice as big as it was before the world first knew about Covid-19.

The financial results are now mostly in for 2020, following earnings reports this week from video chat company Zoom and cloud database vendor Snowflake. They were two of the biggest winners last year, as the new world of remote work turned their already-popular products into essential services for an increasing number of large and small businesses.

Among publicly traded U.S. tech companies valued at $5 billion or more, seven recorded revenue growth of at least 100% last year. Some of the companies report on a normal calendar year, while others are on fiscal years, with the latest quarter ending in January.

This year is poised to look very different than 2020. Multiple vaccines are now available across the country, lifting optimism that the economy will reopen in coming months, allowing people to return to work and attend group gatherings. Investors are pondering what to expect from pandemic-fueled businesses as some sense of normalcy returns.

Here are the tech companies that grew the fastest last year and what they’re telling shareholders to expect in 2021.

Zoom

  • 2020 revenue (fiscal 2021): $2.65 billion, up 326%
  • 2021 forecast (fiscal 2022): $3.76 billion – $3.78 billion, up 42% – 43%
  • Stock price: Up 191% in the past 12 months

Zoom’s stock took off in early 2020 as companies started sending their employees home. Nobody knew then that a year later we’d still be working remotely.

After revenue more than doubled in the quarter that ended in April, growth only accelerated, with sales more than quadrupling in each of the next three periods compared with the year-earlier quarters. Zoom said in its latest earnings report this week that the number of customers with 10 employees or more jumped 470% in a year to 467,100.

More startling than revenue growth is Zoom’s profitability. Zoom reported net income for the full fiscal year of $671.5 million, up more than thirtyfold from the prior year.

Zoom’s market cap soared as high as $162 billion in October before a steep pullback in recent months to about $100 billion at Wednesday’s close.

It’s only natural that Zoom’s growth would moderate dramatically, but the company is still projecting expansion of over 40% in fiscal 2022, which ends in January.

“Although we remain optimistic on Zoom’s outlook, please note the impact and extent of the Covid-19 pandemic and people returning to in-person contact still remain largely unknown,” said Zoom CFO Kelly Steckelberg said on an earnings call. “Our outlook is based on our current assessment of the business environment.”

A bike messenger carries a DoorDash bag during a delivery in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

ByDash

Jen Van Santvoord rides her Peloton exercise bike at her home on April 07, 2020 in San Anselmo, California.

Ezra Shaw | Getty Images

Peloton

  • 2020 revenue: $2.95 billion, up 139%
  • Forecast for next two quarters: $2.25 billion, up 99%
  • Stock price: Up 305% past 12 months

The closure of gyms plus work-from-home requirements added up to a monster year for Peloton, which said last month that workouts in the December quarter quadrupled from a year earlier.

Peloton’s most rapid quarter for growth was from July to September (its fiscal first quarter), when revenue jumped 232% as fitness hounds dealt with lockdowns across much of the country. Sales more than doubled for three straight quarters, and Peloton isn’t projecting much of a slowdown over the next two periods.

The bigger challenge is producing exercise cycles fast enough to meet demand.

“With many of our markets reaching record level Covid-19 cases and implementing new stay-at-home orders, we continue to see robust demand for our products,” Peloton said in its fiscal second-quarter report in February. “As a consequence, we are carrying a substantial number of deliveries into Q3.”

Peloton said it’s investing over $100 million in air and ocean freight “to improve our order-to-delivery windows.”

Frank Slootman, CEO of Snowflake, on the day of its 2020 IPO. He is known as a demanding leader, and straight shooter. “I’ve often been in board meetings at other companies and the CEO will put up a list of 10 priorities … well, that’s the same as having no priorities,” he recently told CNBC.

CNBC

Snowflake

Etsy

Digital Turbine 12-month rally

Digital Turbine

Jack Dorsey, chief executive officer of Square Inc., second right, tours the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Yana Paskova | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Square

  • 2020 revenue: $9.5 billion, up 101%
  • 2020 bitcoin revenue: $4.57 billion, up 785%
  • Stock price: Up 197% in past 12 months

Square’s 2020 was unlike any of its peers: Almost half its revenue came from bitcoin.

Bitcoin revenue at the company climbed to $4.75 billion last year from $516.5 million in 2019. Excluding bitcoin, Square’s revenue rose only 17%.

“Bitcoin revenue increased primarily due to an increase in the number of active bitcoin customers, as well as growth in customer demand and bitcoin prices,” Square said in its annual report. The company said that in January, more than 1 million customers bought bitcoin for the first time.

Trading goes through Square’s Cash App, which consumers use to send money digitally and to invest. Square, which got its start offering hardware and software to help small businesses accept credit and debit cards, has been heavily promoting the Cash App and has gained a ton of traction since enabling bitcoin purchases in 2018.

Square didn’t provide any forecasts for revenue or profit. The company said it plans to double its salesforce in 2021 and that costs for sales, marketing and administrative items will increase 41%.

While bitcoin trading has been a huge boon for Square’s top line, it’s a low-margin business because the company makes money only from what amounts to a transaction fee. Square said that for bitcoin revenue, its gross margin, or the money left after accounting for the costs of goods sold, was 3.5%. That dragged down Square’s overall gross margin for the year to 29% from 40% in 2019.

“In future quarters, we recognize that bitcoin revenue may fluctuate as a result of changes in customer demand or the market price of bitcoin,” Square said in its report.

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