Incumbent vs Startups: New Tech Developments in 2023

Incumbent companies vs startups, which are better has been a long debate. Here are some new tech developments made by incumbents and startups. 

Incumbent companies vs startups, which are better has been a long debate that we don’t know the answer to yet. However, some people have already reached a consensus that when these two work together, they drive real change in our society. 

Incumbents continued to make investments in startups even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t mean that startups can’t cause real disruption, but it is more difficult without a tech giant’s leverage. With that said, here are some new tech developments made by incumbents and startups. 



Incumbent companies are the businesses that lead the market and have an established brand and audience. Incumbent companies are also big enough to have thousands of employees and see billions in revenue each year. 

In this case, we’ll talk about the five biggest tech giants leading the industry with their tech developments. Also known as FAMGA (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon).

1. Facebook

Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms and in the last eight years, the company bought Instagram and WhatsApp. So, with Facebook Messenger, they now own the four most downloaded apps between 2010 and 2019.  

Facebook is currently researching several topics like machine learning, computer vision, economics, and computation. For example, Facebook Reality Labs work relentlessly to improve their VR/AR headset called Oculus Quest. One of the most significant developments was released earlier this year and featured a hand tracking improvement. 

Users can now enjoy the Oculus Quest without the need for controls. Instead, they can use only their hands, giving the VR experience new depth. It’s still in development, but the potential is massive. 

2. Google

Google is one of the most multifaceted companies in the industry, with tentacles in almost every area. The company has over 20 research areas like hardware and architecture, machine perception, data mining and modeling, distributed systems, and software engineering

For example, one of the game-changing technologies Google is working on is quantum computing. Quantum computing is different from everyday computing we see today. It uses quantum physics theories and properties to develop hardware that is much more powerful. This technology is still in its early stages, but Google claimed that its quantum computer carries out a calculation that a traditional computer would have done in 10,000 years. 

3. Microsoft

Microsoft was a pioneer in the tech industry 30 years ago, and the company continues to grow and keep its innovative culture. It has 20 research areas like artificial intelligence, acoustics, human language technologies, algorithms, health, and much more. 

Microsoft also has part of its research effort in quantum computing but concentrating on quantum cryptography. Most current security systems wouldn’t stand a chance against an attack from a quantum computer. So, they are working on reinventing cryptography to be prepared for a possible future with quantum computers. 

4. Apple

Apple centers its research around discovering new ways to improve its products. The company has nine research areas like computer vision, data science, health, human-computer interactions, privacy, etc. 

Apple shines in its software and user experience. Even when other companies try to compete, its products continue to outperform every other in the market even when less powerful hardware. An example of Apple research is the used of machine learning to analyze and create models of phone usage data in relation to cognitive impairment. 

5. Amazon

Amazon started as an online marketplace, and it has grown to become one of the biggest tech companies in the world. The company is also a leading cloud service provider. The company is always looking to improve its services and have twelve research areas to create the next tech disruption. 

The company has research teams working in many branches like machine learning, cloud, and systems, economics, quantum technologies, etc. Amazon was also the first company to introduced fully automatic warehouses where robots and humans work side by side. And they even open the first automated store called Amazon Go



Startups are a little more complex to define. We will define them as a company that is just starting its operations, it’s testing out different models, and it isn’t well-established in its niche. However, because they are new and more prone to taking risks, they can create significant disruption. Below you can see the tech developments powered by startups. 

1. DNA Data Marketplace

DNA genome sequencing has become popular in the last few years. Many companies offer DNA tests to help people find their ancestries and other information from their cells.

However, this brings many data privacy concerns because the user doesn’t have control of their data. DNA data marketplaces are platforms where users can give their DNA data in exchange for certain gain. It can be monetary gain, crypto tokens, or just information. 

The point is that the users have full control over their data, they know what they are getting in exchange, and they can deny permission to anyone. Some of the startups that offer these services are Sano, Nebula Genomics, and Luna PBC. 

2. Mind-Altering Medicines

Many startups are working hard to find new solutions to mental health disorders and diseases. One of these solutions is mind-altering medicines, which are the ones that have psychedelic effects. 

It may sound disturbing, but mind-altering drugs could significantly impact people with depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and ADHD. Some of the startups working on these developments are Small Pharma, Compass, and Mindmed. 

3. Speed of Light Chips

This technology works as it sounds, with light. Startups are working on developing tech devices that use light instead of energy. It could be the next step of computers, transmitting information through light. Scientists used integrated photonics and optical communications principles to make this possible. 


So far, scientists haven’t been able to find something that travels faster than lights. Thus, transmitting information with light could be the ultimate solution to our connectivity problems. The startups working on this tech are Luminous Computing, Ayar Labs, and Light Matter. 


In Summary

Incumbents are putting their research efforts on new technologies that require a lot more money and resources to reach some kind of development. That’s why they are the ones to drive real technological changes. Startups that can create disruption are still backed up by tech giants. 

Incumbents companies are the ones to take new technologies to profitable levels where startups and individuals can then drive change. 


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Artur Meyster

Artur Meyster

One comment

  1. An interesting read – I had no idea Facebook owned all these companies. It seems that the bigger incumbents get even bigger by swallowing up the startups (I don’t feel bad, they are obviously making big money to sell).

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