Innovation In 2023: 4 Stories From The 2008 Recession To Get Inspired

August 21, 2023by Mihaela Binzari

Recessions seem to be one of the perfect times to invest in technology and innovation, Gartner says. From AI to Cloud, marketplaces and mobile applications, companies that focus on digital transformation manage to take up a competitive advantage in comparison with their peers.

It might be a risk, you would say, and we totally agree with it. But looking back at some of the biggest companies in tech and not only, one can easily notice that it is a risk worth taking. Read further to find the success stories of 4 companies that innovated during the 2008 Great Recession and accelerated their further growth.


Starbucks is known worldwide for its coffeehouses chain where people can buy branded premium coffee. During the 2008 recession, the company was strongly impacted, and put into place an entire strategy to recover. From replacing their CEO, to a new brand management plan focused on the ‘away from the bureaucracy and back to the customer’ principle, Starbucks has also embarked a technology-oriented journey.

In March 2008, they launched ‘My Starbucks Idea’, an online platform where every customer could create a profile and share ideas about how they would like the Starbucks experience to look like.

In 2009, the company released an iOS app, being among the pioneers of the industry who went mobile. The app provided features like locating a store, nutrition-based information, and a rewards programme. A few years later, in 2011, they added the mobile payment option, and have also built an Android version of the app.

Investing in technology helped Starbucks to get closer to their customers and pushed them through the 2008 recession. Starting with 2009, the company registered a constant growth in annual revenue, with an exception for 2020, when the lockdown caused a decrease in sales.


Uber started as an idea of Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, who couldn’t get a cab while attending a tech conference in Paris. It happened back in December 2008. A few months later, in March 2009, Uber was launched as an app where people could get a ride by simply tapping a button on their phone.

Uber revolutionized the way people travelled and continued to invest in technology by adding various features to their app and services to their business. Ride-sharing models, food delivery, connecting carriers with shippers are just some of the segments covered by the company.

The latest data shows that 131 million people are currently using Uber of Uber Eats once a month, meaning a 11% year-on-year increase. In 2022, Uber drivers completed 7,6 billion trips worldwide.

The company registered an annual revenue of $31,87 billion, a 82,62% increase from 2021.


Walmart, the multinational retail corporation, is known for its chain of stores in the Unites States and in other countries from the Americas, Asia, and Africa. They are currently operating around 10,500 stores and clubs in 20 countries, together with their e-commerce websites.

In 2007, right before the recession started, Walmart has updated its marketing approach by introducing a new advertising slogan: ‘Save money. Live better.’ Getting the biggest value for their money played a crucial role in customers’ choices during the times of high unemployment and financial struggle.

But the retailer went further. In August 2009, Walmart launched its marketplace and expanded the online product range by nearly one million items. The marketplace enabled a group of retailers to offer more products on the platform and enhanced the variety of goods available for customers.

To improve the shopping experience, Walmart has also released mobile apps available on iOS first, and Android later.

The company’s annual revenue kept growing during the post-recession years. In 2022, Walmart had an annual revenue of $572,75 billion, an increase of 2,43% from 2021.


Salesforce started its journey in 1999, as a cloud computing company. It was primarily known for its flagship product, the Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. Later, it extended its offerings by also providing a wide range of cloud-based software solutions and services to support businesses in managing their operations.

The company has seriously suffered during the 2000 dot-com bubble, but continued to put efforts into developing its product. In June 2004, Salesforce conducted its first public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, using the stock symbol CRM, and successfully generated $110 million in funds.

In 2006, they released IdeaExchange, a platform that connects customers with company product managers. In 2009, they launched the service customer application Service Cloud, designed to assist customers with personalized support across various communication channels. The same year, Salesforce exceeded $1 billion in annual revenue. A few years later, in September 2016, they put on the market the first comprehensive AI for CRM, Einstein.

Salesforce continued their innovation path in time and managed to keep a constant growth in annual revenue during the last 13 years, despite the pandemics and the unstable current situation. The 2022 numbers have shown an annual revenue of $26,49 billion, a 24,66% increase from 2021.

Innovation, technologies, and efforts put into digital transformation might help your company to build strong pillars for the years to come. It is one of the main lessons that some of the biggest worldwide economic actors teach us. Today, when the unstable global environment forces companies to tighten the finance belts, it is the perfect time to put into practice these precise lessons.

Is your company currently focused on innovation and digital transformation, as well? What are the main challenges you face? Leave us a message, so we can find together the right strategies to overcome them.


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