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Platform Firms Pivot to Meet Demands of ‘Great Reopening’

The great reopening is hitting companies in different ways, as evidenced in the ongoing earnings season’s reports and commentary.

At this writing, and perhaps most visibly, shares of Peloton are down roughly 25%, as the movement of doing everything at home over much of the past year seems to be reversing. For Peloton, the reversal has been stark: More people are going back outside or to the gym to exercise, which means the clamor is cooling to work out at home, and to have the bike and the online fitness classes just steps from the couch.

Also see: Peloton Sales Growth Slows Amid Softening Demand, Supply Chain Issues 

But in looking elsewhere, the great reopening is a complement, or even a tailwind, to revenue and user growth. The firms that have been busy building platforms and ecosystems have found that momentum is tied to a continuum of the great pivot that began nearly two years ago and forced all manner of verticals to adapt.

The strategy has been reaping dividends, demonstrating that flexibility pays off when consumers are able to go online to navigate the lives they live offline.

A few companies’ recent results give illustration to the strategy.

Cross-Platform Flexibility 

Take Uber, for example. The company has been expanding its offerings tied to its own platform, well beyond the confines of ride-hailing. Delivery of food and groceries has been a notable beneficiary of the stay-at-home economy. But in recent quarters, vaccinations and reopenings have moved people to start traveling again. The shift is showing up in Uber’s numbers. Trips to the airport are up double-digit percentage points; active driver count is up 65% through 2021 to date. The company has also said that about half of all gross bookings have come from cross-platform users.

Read more: Uber’s Horizontal Platform Shows Delivery Revenue Growth Outpacing Ride-Hailing Snapback

Elsewhere, the home-sharing platform Airbnb has been able to satisfy work-from-home demand, as well as demand to “get away from it all.”

The company just had its “best quarter ever,” as Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said in remarks on the firm’s earnings call this week. Revenue for the company is above pre-pandemic levels. The strong showing reflects broader trends, he noted – which allows for cross-pollination, too.

“Something bigger than a travel rebound is happening. The world is undergoing a revolution in how we live and work,” he said. “The pandemic has suddenly untethered tens of millions of people from the need to go into an office. Technologies like Zoom make it possible to work from home. Airbnb makes it possible to work from any home, and this newfound flexibility is bringing about a revolution in how we travel.”

Related news: Airbnb Logs ‘Best Quarter Ever,’ Signaling Strong 2022 Travel Rebound 

People will live their lives in an increasingly hybrid way, using online channels to navigate what they do offline (and vice versa), which means platforms will continue to weave into the fabric of everyday activities.

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