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A Visual History of the Largest Companies by Market Cap (1999-Today)

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A Visual History of the Largest Companies by Market Cap (1999-Today)

A Visual History of the Largest Companies by Market Cap

The macro narrative that underlies the market is constantly under revision.

While this is partially a function of shifts in investor sentiment, it’s also driven by game-changing events as well as much more structural market forces.

For example, how does the macro narrative change after a commodity price crash? What about when the unprecedented scale of technology is truly understood by the market?

An Evolving Narrative

In this week’s chart, we look at how the big picture narrative has changed over time by using a very simple approach.

We have visualized the market capitalizations of the 10 largest public companies in the world over five-year intervals from 1999 until today, and it gives us a series of snapshots of what the market was “thinking” during these specific periods.

Not only is it evident as certain industries rise to prominence, but there are also some interesting individual stories to follow. We can see iconic companies – such as Apple – ascend into the public consciousness, while others fall off the radar completely.

YearDescriptionTop CompanyWho Dominates Top 10?
1999Dotcom BubbleMicrosoft ($583B)Five tech companies in the mix
2004Post-BubbleGE ($319B)Diverse mix of companies by industry
2009Financial CrisisPetroChina ($367B)Six non-U.S. companies make list
2014$100 OilApple ($560B)Last year for oil companies, tech starts ascending
2019Big Tech EraMicrosoft ($1,050B)Seven companies are tech

The composition of the top 10 changes in each of the snapshots above, and this simple approach helps capture the market narrative for each timeframe.

During the Dotcom Bubble, you can see that half of the list was dominated by tech companies. This was short-lived, and the years 2004, 2009, and 2014 have much more diverse lists.

You can also see the impact of the financial crisis on U.S. company valuations. In 2009, there is an equal distribution of Chinese and American companies. Royal Dutch Shell (UK/Netherlands) and Petrobras (Brazil) help round out the top 10.

Finally, over the last five years, you can see the impact of lower oil prices and the growing scale of tech. Back in 2014, Exxon Mobil was the second largest company in the world by a solid margin, but today it’s been displaced by companies like Facebook, Amazon, Tencent, and Alibaba.

The Big Tech Era

Here is the current top 10 list of the world’s largest companies by market cap:

RankCompanyIndustryMarket Cap
#1๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ MicrosoftTech$1,050 billion
#2๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ AmazonTech$943 billion
#3๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ AppleTech$920 billion
#4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ AlphabetTech$778 billion
#5๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ FacebookTech$546 billion
#6๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Berkshire HathawayDiversified$507 billion
#7๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ AlibabaTech$435 billion
#8๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ TencentTech$431 billion
#9๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ VisaFinancial$379 billion
#10๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Johnson & JohnsonConsumer Goods$376 billion

In total, the five biggest tech giants brought in a combined $801.5 billion in revenue last year, and $139 billion in net income.

The Staying Power of Microsoft

With a valuation today of just over $1 trillion, Microsoft is again the world’s largest company by market capitalization.

In this way, the above lists come full circle, since Microsoft was also the biggest company in 1999.

While the software giant experienced short periods where it did drop out of favor, Microsoft was the only company to make the list in our five snapshots above.

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Ranked: Largest Semiconductor Foundry Companies by Revenue

Most of the 10 largest semiconductor foundries in the world, are headquartered in just three Asian countries, accounting for 90% of the entire industry’s revenue.

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A cropped chart showing the largest semiconductor foundry companies by their percentage of global revenues in Q1 2023.

Ranked: Largest Semiconductor Foundry Companies by Revenue

They’re in our phones, cars, planes, and even fridges.

Semiconductor chips have become critical for the modern way of life, and the biggest semiconductor foundry companies rake in billions of dollars from widespread demand.

This chart shows the largest semiconductor foundry companies by their percentage of global revenues in Q1 2023, using data sourced from Trendforce.

โ„น๏ธ We highlight data for companies that only operate foundries (fabrication plants) that manufacture chips for clients, also known as a “pure-play” foundries, as well as companies that design and manufacture their own chips, known as integrated device manufacturers. “Fabless” manufacturers that only design and don’t manufacture their own chips are not included.

Semiconductor Foundry Companies by Revenue

At the top of the list and dwarfing every other company by revenue share is TSMC which earned 60% (or nearly $17 billion) of the entire industry’s revenue in Q1 2023.

Founded in 1987, TSMC is a pure-play foundry that has become Taiwan’s largest company and manufactures products for a host of clients including Apple, NVIDIA, and AMD.

RankCompanyCountryRevenue
(Q1 2023, USD)
1TSMC๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$16,735M
2Samsung๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea$3,446M
3GlobalFoundries๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ US$1,841M
4UMC๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$1,784M
5SMIC๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China$1,462M
6HuaHong Group๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China$845M
7Tower Semiconductor๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel$356M
8PSMC๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$332M
9VIS๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$269M
10DB Hitek๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea$234M
Other$556M
Global Total$27,860M

Note: Revenue based on the following conversion rates: USD 1 = WON 1,276; USD 1 = NTD 30.4.

Well behind TSMC in foundry revenues is integrated device manufacturer Samsung, the biggest company in South Korea, which made $3.4 billion (12.4% of the industry’s revenue) from its semiconductor manufacturing business.

GlobalFoundries from the U.S., UMC from Taiwan and SMIC from China round out the top five, with each taking home around 6% of industry’s revenue share in Q1 2023. The former spun out from AMD’s manufacturing arm when the company went fabless in 2009.

Industry concentration is apparent in semiconductors. For example, the top 10 semiconductor foundry companies account for 98% of the entire industry’s revenue. Furthermore, 90% of the market is dominated by companies in just three Asian countries: Taiwan, South Korea, and China.

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