Companies Changing How We Live
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Companies That Have Changed the Way We Live Over the Past Decade

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Companies Changing How We Live
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Change Agents

The past decade has brought about tremendous change in our daily lives thanks to the evolution of technology and companies launching apps and products designed to help us with even the most mundane of tasks, from ordering take-out food (who knew that process needed to be improved?) to finding driving directions, dating, and even the accommodations we choose for vacations. The world and how we interact with it has vastly changed over the past 10 years thanks to pioneering companies and platforms. Here are just some of the companies that have had a significant impact on our lives. (And here are 12 Tech Flops of the 1970s and '80s That Were Ahead of Their Time.)

Amazon
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Amazon

There have been few companies with greater reach or more significant impact on people's lives than Amazon. A company that started by selling books in 1994, Amazon continues to grow and evolve with each passing year and now includes everything from electronics to kids' toys, clothing, engagement rings, and even coffins. At its simplest, Amazon continues to make shopping vastly easier. Long gone are the days of traipsing to the mall to do holiday shopping or back to school shopping. With a click of a button those chores are now done from the comfort of home and the items arrive swiftly. Amazon's impact continues to expand, with the company now venturing into the bricks-and-mortar world with AmazonGo, which allows users to buy items in stores without having to wait in line or go through the check-out process. In recent years, the online giant's success has spelled the demise of countless other retailers and left many shopping malls on the ropes.

Facebook
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Facebook

The other behemoth in the room, Facebook has profoundly changed the way people communicate in this country and around the world. It's now possible to stay connected to nearly every person you ever meet as well as find long lost friends and keep abreast of the daily developments in all of these people's lives as never before. More recently, the platform has had a profound and concerning impact on democratic elections with the rise of false political advertisements and propaganda appearing on Facebook that are designed to sway and manipulate the opinion of the electorate. It is believed that Facebook impacted the 2016 Brexit vote in the United Kingdom via scores of pro-Brexit advertisements appearing on its unregulated ad platform as well as the election of Donald Trump thanks to fake news items posted on Facebook. Questions also have been raised about whether the platform encourages extremism and influences American values.

Ancestry.com and 23andMe
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Ancestry.com and 23andMe

Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have been around for quite some time. But in recent years, thanks to a ramped up television and online marketing push, it seems the interest in our ancestry and health has reached epic levels. In fact, MIT Technology Review reported that "as many people purchased consumer DNA tests in 2018 as in all previous years combined." Need more proof of the profound impact these companies are having? By the beginning of this year, more than 26 million consumers had provided their DNA samples to the four top ancestry databases. What's driving the craze, besides effective marketing? The same MIT article reports that the tests offer us everything from entertainment to insights about family history and in some cases even allow for discovering relatives we didn't know about. The eye-opening tests, says MIT, are creating a world in which it is possible to "trace the relationships between nearly all Americans, including those who never purchased a test."

Netflix
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Netflix

Remember when Netflix was just a place where you could rent DVDs by mail? Who even uses Netflix to do that anymore? These days, Netflix is a full-blown production company and a force to be reckoned with at that, with titles like "Orange Is the New Black," "BoJack Horseman," "The Crown," and "Roma." Thanks to Netflix, millions of people no longer need to go to the movies. Or perhaps more accurately, those of us who don't get to the movies that often are hardly missing out anymore. Netflix has evolved in recent years and in the process has helped spawn the binge-watching craze, allowing millions of people to spend days or entire weekends catching up on their favorite series. On-demand entertainment has never been, well ... so entertaining.

Google
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Google

The first stop in internet searches for countless people around the planet (the platform receives in excess of 63,000 searches per second every day), Google took over the world by indexing the internet better than anyone else. The company, which was established in 1998, has since grown to be so much more in our lives over the past decade than just a search engine. It has evolved to provide users with such helpful features as Google images, Google maps, and Google weather. Next up? Driverless cars. But like other companies on this list, Google's impact hasn't been without some serious costs. It's dominance has been devastating for the newspaper industry, helping to put many publishers out of business. It has done the same thing for publishers of maps.

Apple
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Apple

It's hard to overestimate the impact Apple has had on our daily lives. The ground-breaking iPhone alone has dramatically changed the way people behave and revolutionized our lives over just the past decade. Whether an iPhone or another make of smartphone, we now have a mini-computer with us everywhere we go. And we can't stop looking at it. What's more, we can do so much with it: order food, listen to music, watch videos, take stellar pictures, communicate with loved ones via video chat, and play video games. It's our constant companion and the first thing many people reach for when they wake up each morning. But Apple's impact can be tied to far more than our phones, of course. The tech giant has launched everything from laptops to iPads (unveiled in 2010), and iPods, radically changing how we access entertainment, read books, work, and live.

Related: Historic Failures by Steve Jobs and Other Successful Billionaires

Uber and Lyft
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Uber and Lyft

Remember when taking taxis was still a thing? Of course, there are still plenty of taxis to be hailed, but Uber, founded in 2009, has certainly put a dent in that market while simultaneously modernizing it with cashless transactions. The company has also made it possible for ordinary car owners who possess a driver's license to access a new stream of income. The Uber revolution is hardly limited to allowing users to command automobile rides with a tap of a button. It has since branched into UberBoat, Uber Freight, Jump (rentable bicycles and scooters), and even food delivery with Uber Eats. Now the company has its sights set on the skies with Uber Elevate.

Though Uber and Lyft have a great deal in common as behemoth ride-sharing companies, the two are also quite different. Lyft, founded in 2012, was created with a goal of using technology to dramatically reduce carbon emissions generated by our transportation system. In 2018, the company became one of the largest purchasers of carbon offsets in the world. More recently, it began offering electric scooters and bike shares. And earlier this year, Lyft also announced plans for a Green Mode, which will offer riders to opt for hybrid or electric vehicles.

Twitter
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Twitter

What would political discourse, or public discourse of any sort be these days without Twitter? Within seconds, it's possible to hop on the platform and start a hashtag trending around the world. In fact, hashtag activism has grown to be quite a phenomenon in recent years thanks to Twitter. Founded in 2006, Twitter has taken on a heightened importance in recent years, especially since 2016. The medium is so powerful and so pervasive, it's even used daily by the president of the United States, which is also an example of one of Twitter's most significant drawbacks — use of the platform to level attacks and abuse people. Still, Twitter has forever changed the way people consume information and news. And like Instagram, Twitter has allowed for the rise of influencers.

Related: 13 Brands That Celebrities Hurt Via Social Media

Instagram
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Instagram

Another platform that's given rise to an entirely new profession, Instagram, founded in 2010, has created the phenomenon of the Instagram influencer, and in the process transformed marketing practices. "With the rise of influencers, products and services have found a brilliant way to come to people's attention disguised as honest endorsements. Instagram influencers have changed the marketing game," says Nick Galov, co-founder of Review 42. Yes, the rapidly growing photo-sharing platform has made it far easier to share images, but it's most profound impact seems to be on the ability to market everything from healthy food to designer handbags, not to mention sparking food trends.

Tinder
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Tinder

For years, there was Match.com and eHarmony. Then in 2012, due in large part to the explosion of the smartphone, Tinder came along and shook things up, changing online dating for a generation of users. (About 80% of Tinder users are millennials). At its most basic level, Tinder has allowed singles to shop for each other, and when first launched was described by some as nothing more than a hook-up app for hot people. But the swipe app, which is used across about 196 countries, has also expanded the reach of one's social network allowing users to make connections with people they might not have otherwise met, with some Tinder users even going on to get married.

Related: I Signed Up for Trump Dating and Here's What Happened

Venmo
Venmo

Venmo

Picking up on the success of platforms like PayPal and taking it one step further, Venmo, founded in 2009, has grown to be one of the most popular apps for transferring money. It has made sharing costs for everything from a meal to a cab ride truly effortless. In fact, the millennials who predominantly use this offering have turned it into a verb: "Venmo me, okay?" And the beauty of Venmo is that it doesn't charge users for sending or receiving money, unlike many of its predecessors. Also, unlike its predecessors, Venmo has transformed money transferring into a social transaction by including a news feed in the app for users to share commentary if they wish.

DoorDash
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DoorDash

Who needs to drive to a restaurant anymore to pick-up take-out food thanks to the proliferation of businesses like DoorDash (and Postmates, and Uber Eats and on and on)? Though many of these companies are continuing an offering made famous by predecessors like GrubHub, DoorDash has grown to be the nation's biggest meal delivery business and is taking the segment to new levels. Not only has it increased business tremendously for restaurants around the country, DoorDash has created jobs for countless gig workers, or in this case, on-call Dashers. And just a few months ago, the company announced it would begin paying Dashers more, making this gig job slightly more lucrative. These types of services have also had a profound impact on users, says Sean Clancy, a director with Edge Marketing, a digital marketing agency. "Takeaway and delivery have been a staple of Western culture for the last few decades, but even with that said, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Deliveroo have been game-changers," said Clancy. "It has added to the general inactivity that has crept up on the population in the last decade. Takeaway food was seen as a treat or a lazy option, now it's used multiple times a week, all with a press of a button."

Wag
Wag

Wag

As the name implies, this app is all about the dogs in our lives, making it suddenly effortless for pet owners everywhere to schedule pet sitting or pet walking on-demand. Like many other companies on this list, this service can be provided with a mere tap of a button on your smartphone. And with the globetrotting lives many people lead these days, that's no small development. Wag has also created yet another job opportunity for side hustlers everywhere, one that offers a flexible schedule if you love walking or boarding dogs. "The app works a lot like Uber and Lyft, in that it uses your geographical location to pinpoint dogs that need walking in your vicinity," said Raj Vardhman, founder of GoRemotely. Doesn't get more convenient than that.

Related: Must Love Dogs: 14 Unexpected Jobs for Animal Lovers

Instacart
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Instacart

Instacart, launched in 2012, is really just one example of a growing segment of businesses that has already impacted (and improved) life for rushed people everywhere. "On-demand services have revolutionized the way we live our daily lives including shopping for groceries. Gone is the leisurely roll down the grocery aisles," says Marsha Kelly, a marketing consultant for Best4Businesses.com. Other popular names in this space include FreshDirect and Peapod. Though this business is still finding its footing, The Food Marketing Institute predicts that online grocery sales will grow to reach $100 billion in the coming five years. That's about 20% of the grocery retail market.

Related: These 32 Stores Are Getting Rid of Cashiers and Checkout Lanes

OfferUp
OfferUp

OfferUp

Founded in 2011, OfferUp has changed the way people deal with their unwanted goods, which, it should go without saying, is a great thing for the planet. Instead of old clothes, furniture and who knows what else ending up in landfills, OfferUp has made it easy to give the items away to others or sell them, whichever users choose. As the OfferUp website points out, "Americans spend trillions of dollars each year on new stuff, billions each year on storage units, and every day, they throw tons of their stuff away." But that no longer has to be the case, at least when it comes to throwing things away. Allowing people to exchange or "offer up" their items via photos uploaded on a smartphone, the local buying and selling platform has made it dramatically easier to empty your garage, closets and more.

Airbnb
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Airbnb

Though Airbnb was founded way back in 2008, the company continues to push the needle every year in terms of its influence on travel, entire communities, and society as a whole. In recent years, the home sharing company has branched far beyond merely offering a place for travelers to sleep with the launch of Airbnb Experiences, fascinating activities designed to further immerse globetrotters in a destination via one-of-a-kind offerings from locals. The company's mere presence has also helped drive down the price of hotel rooms and has simultaneously driven traditional hotels into new offerings. Look no further than Marriott's recent launch of a home rental market platform. And like almost every other company on this list, Airbnb has made it possible for the little guy to generate unexpected streams of income from renting out everything from a spare room to a spare home. Though Airbnb also has its drawbacks, with the company being blamed for emptying communities of permanent residents and causing rents to skyrocket.

Related: 19 Things You Need to Know Before Booking an Airbnb

HelloFresh
HelloFresh

HelloFresh

Merely one example of the proliferating meal-kit delivery industry, HelloFresh is among the most successful in its niche. The company, founded in 2011, offers meal kits for as little as $7.49, transforming the nightly chore of making dinner into something far more effortless and convenient. Using such services, one barely needs to even go food shopping anymore. But that same feature is among the criticisms of this industry, with some scholars suggesting that the meal kits have created a disconnect from the true experience of cooking, which typically involves buying the ingredients and planning a meal.

Tesla
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Tesla

Though Tesla launched its first electric car in 2008, priced at $109,000, the Roadster wasn't exactly a vehicle that was available to the masses, so its impact was minimal. Fast forward to 2017, however, when Tesla released its Model 3, four-door sedan at the more approachable price of $35,000 and now the Tesla revolution has officially begun with the stylish electric vehicles turning up everywhere you look. Tesla's impact on our world can also be seen in the form of the Superchargers the company has been busy constructing around the country, which allow owners of the car to recharge at no cost. And in yet another pivot, Tesla in recent years also expanded into solar energy products, creating batteries that can be used to store solar energy for homes and businesses. In other words, Tesla has been busy transforming our world into a more sustainable, eco-friendly place.

Related: 12 Surprising Things That Tesla Makes That Aren't Electric Cars