There is a single word that serves as a fitting representation of 2020: resilience. Very few periods over the course of modern history have tested our resilience and shaped humanity, culture and politics the way 2020 has. From a global health pandemic, racial injustice and an increasingly volatile climate to complex geopolitics and a divisive U.S. election, the impact of this year will be felt for decades to come.
Our ability as a society to adapt, innovate and grow on a global and local level has been extraordinary. From innovations in science and medicine that accelerated a COVID-19 vaccine to the social awakening of citizens and corporations taking action in support of Black Lives Matter to communities rallying together to fight natural disasters to the largest turnout of voters in the history of U.S. presidential elections, this year has demonstrated our humanity, scars and all, and what it truly means to be a global citizen.
For Verizon Media, when faced with the very worst, I saw the best rise from our employees, consumers and partners. Our employees came together like never before, helping each other tackle the struggles of working from home. Our consumers relied on our entire ecosystem as a source for connections, transactions, trusted news and content — when accurate information was more critical than ever. We worked with our advertisers and publishers to innovate and develop products and services that catered to the “new normal.”
A year in review might suggest that the moments are behind us. What 2020 has shown is the events that defined this year will last a lifetime. Here is a snapshot.
The year kicks off with some of the worst wildfires in Australia’s history, destroying over 12 million acres of land. The World Health Organization announces the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, and the first COVID-19 case is confirmed in the U.S. COVID-19 will go on to kill over 1.6 million people worldwide by year’s end. The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins. Basketball icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others die in a tragic helicopter accident. A Ukraine-bound plane crashes shortly after taking off from Tehran airport; Iran’s government later admits it mistakenly shot the plane down. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce their intention to step down from the royal family.
The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic and lockdown begins in countries around the world, triggering a global economic reaction that causes the worst single-day point drop for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The highly anticipated Tokyo Summer Olympics are canceled. Racial injustice remains at the forefront of people’s minds as Breonna Taylor is killed by police during a botched raid in Louisville, Ky. The first COVID-19 relief bill is passed in the U.S., helping millions of people and businesses. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19. Tom Brady signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a legendary run with the New England Patriots. Tiger King hits Netflix and becomes a quarantine smash. Yahoo celebrates 25 years.
Nova Scotia suffers one of the deadliest mass shootings in Canada’s history. Much of the U.S. is in lockdown mode, with New York hit the hardest by cases of COVID-19. The pandemic has a disproportionate effect on diverse communities, with Black people, Asians and Latinos affected the most. It continues to hit all economic sectors, with unemployment numbers at 14.7 percent in the U.S., the highest rate and the largest month-over-month increase since 1948, when data was first collected. Yahoo Life, a new vertical focused on all things mental health and wellness, launches. Verizon Media donates $10 million in advertising inventory to help mental health organizations. The highly anticipated mobile streaming service Quibi launches, only to shut down six months later.
George Floyd is killed after a police officer kneels on his neck for an extended period, setting off worldwide protests and a racial justice reckoning. Political protests calling for democratic leadership and economic reform begin in Belarus, and separate protests erupt in Hong Kong after China votes to impose strict national security legislation. Costa Rica is the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Cyclone Amphan hits India, causing significant damage and becoming one of the costliest cyclones recorded in the North Indian Ocean. “Murder hornets” become a new fascination as they reach North America for the first time.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declares the country “COVID-free.” China’s economy bounces back into growth following a record Q1 slump. Global protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing escalate as citizens call for police reform and justice. Verizon announces a $10 million commitment to organizations focused on social and racial equality. The Supreme Court rules against the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program in a 5-4 decision. India wins a two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council.
The Trump administration considers banning the social media app TikTok, setting off a debate on whether the app poses a security threat to the U.S. Allegations of a toxic workplace emerge at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Glee actress Naya Rivera drowns in a California lake. Beloved TV host Regis Philbin dies. The NBA resumes its season in a “bubble” at Disney World, and Formula 1 announces it will resume racing, beginning with the Rolex Grosser Preis von Osterreich. The first four weeks of the Indian Premier League experience a sizable surge in viewership, even surpassing the viewership of the English Premier League.
The Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. President Trump and the first lady test positive for COVID-19, in addition to over a dozen others associated with the administration. Two legends in film and music pass away: Sean Connery and Eddie Van Halen. The NBA sets a successful example for a sports comeback as the season ends with zero positive COVID-19 results for players within the Orlando bubble. LeBron James and the L.A. Lakers go on to defeat the Miami Heat to win the NBA championship.. LeBron James and the LA Lakers go on to defeat the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship.
With much anticipation, Election Day arrives and more Americans vote — including by mail — than in any other election in U.S. history. Joe Biden is declared president-elect, winning both the electoral and popular vote. The U.S. formally exits the Paris Agreement. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek dies after battling pancreatic cancer. India resumes international cricket in Australia for the first time since March.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year like no other. As unrelenting as the headwinds were, what I saw — citizens and communities across the world exhibiting courage, humility and sacrifice — made me optimistic. Resilience is what defined 2020, but more importantly, it will be what takes us forward.
Thank you to our employees, consumers, partners and everyone who joined us on the journey this year. I look forward to the prospect of a new year in which we can see each other in person, share a handshake or hug, and pass one another in the hallway with a smile and a simple “Good morning.”
Here’s to a healthy and happy 2021 for you and yours.