The coronavirus epidemic that has swept across Europe and America has been disastrous for many types of businesses, including civil aviation, tourism and the hospitality industry. But most are agreed that the titans of new tech have had a “good crisis”.
Netflixhas prospered as locked-down households consume its treasure store of films and television shows, Microsoft’sTeams video-conferencing service, rival to Zoom, has been much in demand and, of course, Amazon’son-line ordering and home delivery service could have been tailor-made for the current situation, so much so that founder Jeff Bezos is touted as the world’s first trillionaire.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Nasdaq, the stock index closely associated with the tech sector, has put in a powerful performance. On 29 June, it closed up 1.3% at 9,874.12, well up on its level of a month earlier, when it closed on 1 June at 9,552.05. Three months ago, on 30 March, it closed at 7,774.15.
High tech not essential
Momentum is strongly upwards. The three-monthly low was seen on 1 April, when it closed at 7,360.58, and the three-monthly high was reached on 123 June, at 10,131.37.
From its low point to its current level, the Nasdaq has staged a 34% recovery, eclipsing the 22% comeback from its three-monthly low seen by the blue-chip Dow Jones index.
Founded in 1971 as the world’s first automated trading system, the Nasdaq did not set out specifically to attract tech companies. It was a venture of the National Association of Securities Dealers, then the regulatory body for share traders, and the last two letters of the acronym stand for “automated quotations”. But in a sense, the medium became the message as a technologically sophisticated exchange attracted the listings of companies at the cutting edge of scientific and technical developments.
Recognition for chief executive
Today, big names include Facebook, Cisco Systemsand Google’s owner Alphabet. But involvement in high tech is not a precondition for a Nasdaq quotation: other names include Kraft Heinz, better known for tiomato ketchup and chocolate than for digital activities, and the not notably technological coffee chain Starbucks.
Nasdaq president and chief executive Adena Friedman said of the exchange’s mission: “We aim to set the pace for rethinking capital markets and economies anywhere and everywhere.”
Earlier this week, it was announced that she had been named by financial magazine Barron’s in its list of top chief executives, in Nasdaq’s words, “recognising her extraordinary efforts to keep the markets running while seamlessly shifting to a remote-working environment amid Covid-19 pandemic”.
Usually, Barron’s compiles an annual list of top-performing chief executives, based on the prior years’ financial results and investor returns, plus the judgment of a panel of reporters and editors. This year, however, it took a different approach, “weighing corporate leaders’ preparedness for, and performance under, extraordinary circumstances”.
Adena Friedman shared the credit with her colleagues: “Our ability to be able to go from everyone in the office to everyone at home in such a short period of time is truly a testament to years of effort by our risk teams, our technology teams, [and] our people teams,” she told Barron’s.