New York CNN Business  — 

‪Two headlines on the front page of the Wall Street Journal sum up the media’s current coverage of the economy: “U.S. Economy Bounces Back Near Its Peak” and “Amazon’s Profit More Than Triples.”‬

Sebastian Herrera’s story for the Journal about Amazon (AMZN)’s record quarterly profits said the company capped “a blockbuster earnings season for the world’s largest technology companies,” citing “significant gains in profits and revenue” for Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), and Microsoft (MSFT).

But words like “significant” and “blockbuster” are understatements! As Shira Ovide of The New York Times put it, “The dictionary doesn’t have enough superlatives to describe what’s happening to the five biggest technology companies.” The headline of her analysis uses the word “bonkers.” Apple has well exceeded a $2 trillion market cap. Microsoft and Amazon are not far from the $2 trillion mark. “These companies are just so dominant,” a portfolio manager told CNN Business’ Paul R. La Monica the other day.

The pandemic was an accelerant. “They were already on the way up and had been for the best part of a decade, and the pandemic was unique. For them it was a perfect positive storm,” NYU professor Thomas Philippon told Ovide.

But “the wildly successful last year also raises uncomfortable questions for tech company bosses, the public and elected officials already peeved about the industry,” she wrote: “Is what’s good for Big Tech good for America? Or are the tech superstars winning while the rest of us are losing?”

A post-pandemic mindset

CNN’s Clare Duffy writes: “After listening to this week’s earnings calls, it seems the thinking at tech companies has begun to shift more dramatically to the post-pandemic future. Whereas much of the conversation over the past year has been ‘here’s how the pandemic is changing demand,’ it’s now sounding more like ‘here’s how the pandemic has permanently changed the tech landscape, and how we’re planning to capitalize on those changes going forward.’ As CEO Satya Nadella said in Microsoft’s earnings report Wednesday: ‘Over a year into the pandemic, digital adoption curves aren’t slowing down. They’re accelerating, and it’s just the beginning.’” Read Duffy’s story about Amazon’s earnings here.

Ad market’s “bull run”

Companies coming out of a pandemic coma need to reach customers. So they need to pitch themselves. “We’re on an advertising bull run,” WaPo biz exec Jarrod Dicker commented as the earnings reports piled up this week. Google’s earnings were fueled by “a surge in digital ad spending.” Same for Facebook. And on Thursday “Amazon said ad and other sales rose 77% to $6.9 billion, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $6.2 billion,” per Reuters. analyst Jesse Cohen said ad revenue is “increasingly becoming another substantial growth driver for Amazon.”

Companies like Spotify also highlighted ad sales growth this week. On the flip side, when Discovery’s earnings showed some ad sales slippage, streaming was a factor: “Lower ad inventory was due in part to the company’s own promotions for its new Discovery+ service occupying ad space on its networks, the company said.”

>> Kerry Flynn writes: “There’s something to be said about how the world has gone to subscriptions while ads are thriving. Vox has a strong new piece about ‘how subscriptions took over our lives.’”

Friday’s front page

Booming Big Tech earnings are part of a broader economic story that shouldn’t be missed. The lead story in Friday’s Washington Post is “Growth speeds up in 1st quarter.” Here’s the lead: “The U.S. economic recovery picked up speed, with the economy growing 1.6 percent in the first three months of the year because of rising coronavirus vaccinations and massive federal stimulus spending. The economy is on the verge of regaining all of its pandemic losses in coming months.” Read on.

>> “Everything about this crisis has been unique,” Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, told the Journal.

>> The WSJ editorial board and other conservative voices are asking why Biden’s spending plans are necessary in light of the growth signs…

What about Twitter?

“Twitter’s stock was down more than 11% in after-hours trading on Thursday after the company released its first-quarter earnings, missing on user growth expectations and providing lower revenue guidance for the second quarter than expected,” CNBC reported.

Comcast’s conundrum

“If you want a clear picture of the state of the media industry, Comcast offers a clear snapshot: It’s losing cable TV subscribers while gaining in streaming,” i.e. Peacock, the New York Times’ Edmund Lee wrote Thursday. “The conundrum: cable still generates the most dollars while streaming loses the most.”

Here’s his full story about Comcast’s better-than-expected earnings. Lee noted that this is “the operating thesis behind every major media company today: replace the eroding base of profit-rich cable customers with loss-making streaming viewers in the hope that over time the digital audience will become more valuable.”

>> Wild stat: “About 14 million households are regularly watching NBCU’s Peacock service, just one-third of the 42 million people who have signed up for it.” (The Information)

Endeavor’s first public day

Shares in Endeavor Group Holdings, “the owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the largest Hollywood talent agency,” closed at $25.20 per share after entering public trading on Thursday at $24 per share. The public rollout “sets the stage” for Ari Emanuel’s “potential comeback after a harrowing year and a half,” the Los Angeles Times’ Ryan Faughnder and Anousha Sakoui report.