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Companies That Rode Pandemic Boom Get a Reality Check

Will the online shopping and entertainment habits forged in confinement continue to accelerate the trends toward e-commerce and video streaming?

No one knows for sure, but the view of Bay Area technologists and investors, not surprisingly, leans toward a long-term Covid bump for tech companies.

Rich Wong, a general partner at Accel, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, sees “a truly credible case” that the growth of “these digital transformations have actually increased by a major step and, with that, the size of the opportunity in technology and venture investing.”

Stock market gyrations can shelve plans by start-ups to sell shares to the public. But the gaming site Roblox, which is popular among children and tweens and has thrived in the stay-at-home economy, made its stock-market debut on Wednesday. After its first day of trading, Roblox was valued at $45 billion, up from $4 billion just over a year ago.

At the end of last week Coursera, the digital learning network, filed the documents necessary to go public in the coming weeks. The company and its venture backers are convinced that adult education and skills training will increasingly be online, and that investors will agree. In its filing, Coursera reported that its revenue jumped 59 percent last year, to $294 million.

So far, there is little evidence of a retreat from online life in general.

SimilarWeb, an online data provider, compared traffic at the top 100 websites in the United States during last March and April, when web use spiked at the start of the pandemic, with the first two months of this year. Total traffic was up more than 12 percent this year. No “peak web” yet.

Mr. Readerman, portfolio manager for Endurance Capital Partners, has been a technology company analyst and investor for 30 years. He is mainly a longer-term investor in companies he views as tech innovators with strong managements.


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