A digital puzzle - when tech stars are bad businesses

The Amazon success story is not easily replicable.

The bummer view is that we may be living in a technology mirage, the writer says. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: UNSPLASH

(NYTIMES) - Over the past 15 years, clever digital ideas have captured imaginations, transformed habits and reshaped industries and economies. It might seem surprising, then, that so many great digital products in this generation have come from bad businesses.

Spotify has reshaped music, but the company is still figuring out how to turn a consistent profit. Uber has altered cities and become a way of life for some riders and drivers. The company has also spent far more cash than it has brought in over its 13-year life. App companies like DoorDash, Instacart and Gopuff have hooked some Americans on deliveries of restaurant meals, groceries or convenience items, but hardly any company that brings fresh food to our doors has made it work financially. Robinhood helped make investing accessible and fun, but it hasn't made free stock trades profitable. Twitter is a cultural force, but it's never been a good company.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.