The Firms that Outlined 2021

The Firms that Outlined 2021

Consideration is an more and more worthwhile type of forex within the Info Age.

In 2021, a handful of corporations stood out from the pack, dominating the dialog and influencing society in each optimistic and unfavorable methods. After vigorous inside debate, right here is Visible Capitalist’s record of corporations that outlined 2021:

  • Robinhood
  • Pfizer
  • Coinbase
  • Tesla
  • TikTok
  • Fb/Meta

We checked out quite a lot of metrics to pick out these corporations, together with Google search and information quantity, efficiency relative to opponents, industry-specific indicators, and extra.

Many of those are digital corporations, and all have huge attain, scale, and affect. Apparently, many of those corporations additionally confronted controversies together with their success, and had been caught up in actions that had been greater than themselves.

With this context in thoughts, let’s dive in.


Robinhood’s eventful 12 months reached its peak when the inventory buying and selling app was caught in a frenzy involving retail merchants, quick sellers, and “meme stonks”. It didn’t take lengthy for Robinhood to go from hero to villain on this story. Because the Gamestop inventory shot up previous $400, buying and selling was halted and place limits had been initiated on the app.

As nicely, Robinhood’s said aim of democratizing finance got here beneath scrutiny resulting from their pay-for-order-flow enterprise mannequin, the place delicate person commerce exercise knowledge is bought to the very best bidder who then will get forward of the commerce, in any other case often known as “front-running”.

robinhood account size vs competitors

Regardless of the controversy, Robinhood’s platform now has over 22 million customers, lots of whom are youthful, first-time traders. Whereas they’ve key sights like zero fee trades, they had been additionally accused of gamifying investing with options like confetti capturing throughout the display screen after a commerce is made (a function that was eliminated after media criticism).

The corporate steadily made entrance web page monetary information in early 2021, and whereas the usually unfavorable press didn’t get in the best way of their IPO—which commenced in late July—it has affected investor sentiment. Since their 52-week excessive of $70 per share in August, the inventory has fallen some 70% in direction of the $18 vary.

Moreover, the SEC is rumored to be launching an investigation into them. With these headwinds, investing on Robinhood has most likely fared higher up to now than investing in Robinhood.


Maybe there was no greater story in 2021 than COVID-19 vaccines.

Early within the 12 months, the race to safe vaccines was on. Rich international locations scrambled to purchase inventory and roll out widespread vaccination applications forward of spring.

And the businesses that managed to supply environment friendly vaccines noticed the most important advantages, like pharmaceutical big Pfizer. The corporate’s COVID-19 vaccine, made in partnership with German agency BioNTech, ended up turning into the world’s most-preferred vaccine to combat the pandemic.

The corporate is forecasting income of $36 billion from its vaccine this 12 months.

Competing vaccines from Moderna and AstraZeneca additionally noticed their mother or father corporations rise in each market cap and newsworthiness. All the concerned pharma corporations have additionally confronted fixed scrutiny, with many international locations on this planet struggling to safe COVID-19 vaccines, and others coping with vaccine hesitancy.

Because the pandemic continues with the Omicron variant rapidly spreading across the globe, Pfizer and its opponents will proceed to be impactful into the brand new 12 months. The corporate introduced a COVID-19 antiviral tablet that’s deliberate to be launched within the close to future, and more practical vaccines and boosters in opposition to different variants are nonetheless a scorching commodity.


2021 was a pivotal 12 months for cryptocurrency. Costs reached new highs, and establishments and retail traders alike poured into the market.

With its user-friendly app and give attention to safety, Coinbase was nicely positioned to learn from this surge in curiosity. The alternate began off the 12 months by greater than doubling its transacting person base as Bitcoin costs shot to new heights.

coinbase transacting users 2021

It’s straightforward to underestimate the affect of the corporate’s IPO—particularly as its share worth slid because the crypto market cooled off—however the alternate’s very entry into the general public markets was an enormous enhance in legitimacy for crypto, paving the best way for related corporations to IPO sooner or later.


No one captures consideration and creates controversy fairly like Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk.

Most of Tesla’s actions are tied carefully to the well-known entrepreneur, who’s recognized for his brazen on-line presence. Musk’s social media persona is so sturdy, one tweet can ship Tesla’s inventory plummeting, prefer it did final 12 months after Musk instructed Twitter that “Tesla’s inventory is simply too excessive imo.”

Whereas naysayers are fast to criticize Tesla and Musk, the corporate has some spectacular numbers to again up its hype. 2020 was already a ridiculous 12 months for Tesla—its inventory surged by almost 700%, and with a valuation of $630 billion, it turned some of the worthwhile corporations on this planet.

This momentum carried over into 2021. This 12 months, income rose every quarter, and in October, the corporate’s market worth surpassed $1 trillion.

Tesla was additionally intertwined inside different societal narratives over the course of the 12 months. The automaker’s transfer from California to Texas was half of a bigger dialog concerning the “Bay Space exodus”, as jurisdictions in Texas and Florida seemed to steal Silicon Valley’s thunder.

elon musk twitter poll

Musk’s Tesla inventory gross sales generated loads of buzz in This fall as nicely.

Seemingly in response to criticism over inequality and tax avoidance, Musk ran a Twitter ballot to determine whether or not or to not promote a good portion of his Tesla holdings. After a majority “sure” vote, the Tesla CEO now seems to have bought off sufficient inventory to carry up his finish of the cut price.


TikTok was already widespread in 2020, however this 12 months really solidified its standing as a cultural phenomenon.

The app topped a billion customers in 2021, simply 5 years after its launch in 2016. For context, it took Fb and Instagram almost eight years to hit that very same milestone.

tiktok user growth

What’s so interesting about TikTok? Specialists have many theories, however in an interview with Forbes, John Holdridge, GM of Fullscreen, places its merely: “TikTok’s success may be attributed to the way it flips what we consider as social media on its head, whereas on the similar time returning us all to roots of the unique enchantment–the flexibility to go viral.”

TikTok’s short-style video format has turn into so widespread that it’s impressed a slew of copycat apps, particularly in areas like India the place TikTok is banned.

Even established corporations like Meta have tried to imitate TikTok’s success. In 2020, Instagram launched “reels,” its personal short-form video function the place customers can create and share 30 second movies. However Instagram reels did not overtake TikTok’s development—as a substitute, reels has turn into a spot for customers to share and promote their TikTok movies.


Fb steadily finds itself within the information, given its standing because the world’s largest social community. In 2021, nonetheless, it was for 2 completely different causes.

The primary was the U.S. Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021. Within the aftermath of this occasion, many blamed Fb for not doing sufficient to mitigate the unfavorable results of its platform—primarily polarization, conspiracy theories, and hate speech.

The controversy reached its peak in September 2021, when inside recordsdata leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen had been revealed. These paperwork uncovered Fb’s inside struggles with combating misinformation, in addition to worker dissent.

Finally, Fb weathered the storm and opted to shed its baggage with a brand new identify. Not solely does this assist the corporate disassociate from its earlier scandals, it additionally strains up with Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions of pioneering the metaverse.

Facebook metaverse

Following the announcement, “metaverse” exploded in a single day and have become one of many hottest matters of 2021. The phrase “Meta” has additionally turn into extremely worthwhile—Meta (the corporate) lately accomplished a $60 million deal to accumulate the trademark property of Meta Monetary Group, a regional U.S. financial institution.

Honorable Mentions

Whereas the businesses highlighted above had been undeniably influential in 2021, any record like that is certain to be subjective and open to debate. Here’s a shortlist of different corporations that we thought of for the Firms that Outlined 2021 record:


The surge in funding that propelled Robinhood and Coinbase to new heights was partially fueled by communities on Reddit. One of the fascinating moments of the 12 months got here when Reddit person u/deepfuckingvalue appeared earlier than the Home Committee on Monetary Companies proclaiming, “I’m not a cat” and “I just like the inventory”.

On the enterprise entrance, the “Entrance Web page of the Web” noticed double-digit person development throughout the pandemic, and now has a valuation of $10 billion after a hefty spherical of funding.


NFTs had a Cambrian explosion alongside the crypto bull run, with OpenSea rising because the dominant market this previous 12 months. Within the second half of 2021, OpenSea made up 95% of NFT buying and selling quantity on main marketplaces, and has transacted $1.42B in quantity in December up to now.

Whereas it appeared OpenSea was planning an IPO after their CFO Brian Roberts commented how “you’d be silly not to consider it [OpenSea] going public,” person backlash resulted in Roberts later tweeting that the corporate shouldn’t be actively planning an IPO. Whether or not or not OpenSea does set sail onto the general public markets, they’ll quickly have some severe competitors from Coinbase’s personal NFT market at present within the works.


Regardless of intense competitors from rival streaming platforms, Netflix will end the 12 months on high as soon as once more. The corporate has quite a lot of spectacular tallies within the win column this 12 months.

First, Squid Recreation was a cultural phenomenon, rapidly turning into the streaming service’s primary present, and likewise the world’s most Googled TV present of 2021.

Subsequent, Netflix’s Purple Discover is probably going probably the most watched new film of 2021, logging nicely over 300 million hours of viewing time. Not dangerous, contemplating its tepid rating of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. It stays to be seen whether or not deep-pocketed opponents like Disney+ are capable of dethrone Netflix, however for now, the corporate is as culturally related as ever.


The truth that Elon Musk has two corporations on this dialog factors to why he was named Time’s Most Influential Individual for 2021.

SpaceX has made launching rockets drastically cheaper lately, which helps clarify its huge reported valuation of $200 billion. The corporate, which is the highest business launch supplier within the U.S., will spherical out the 12 months with 31 launches.

Which corporations would you add to this record?

The next members of the VC editorial employees contributed to this text: Nick Routley, Carmen Ang, Niccolo Conte, Marcus Lu, Aran Ali, and Omri Wallach.

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