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The Emergence of Commercial Drones

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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, have actually been around for about a century.

Even in 1918, the U.S. military had its first UAV, which acted as a “cruise missile” in combat. Nicknamed the Kettering Bug, it was essentially a flying bomb with 12-foot wings made of cardboard and paper mâché, running off a 40-horsepower Ford engine.

As you might imagine, the military has been a catalyst over the years for the development of UAV technology, which has allowed commercial drones to become cheaper, lighter, and more sophisticated. Today, drones aren’t just for delivering military payloads in foreign lands – UAVs will also be delivering your packages, taking photos, providing wireless internet services, and monitoring conservation efforts in remote locations.

The Commercial Drones Market

The following infographic comes to us from IFLY, a Drone Economy Strategy ETF focusing on the “development, research, and utilization of drones”.

It shows the history of military drone applications, and how that has led to today’s emerging market for commercial drones.

The Emergence of Commercial Drones

According to BI Intelligence, the total drone market today is close to $10 billion.

And despite the military market remaining the largest for now, it is worth noting that the commercial drone sector will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19% between 2015 and 2020. Eventually, it will pass the military market in size, as that is only growing at a 5% clip.

The Emerging Opportunity for Commercial Drones

The growing market on the civilian side will impact a variety of industries, including private security, law enforcement, real estate, media, film, construction, mining, agriculture, and utilities.

Hardware for commercial drones is important, especially in the early stages. However, as we see in other sectors, it will likely be the software that makes the difference in many applications. As it becomes cheaper to customize commercial drones, the door will be opened to allow new functionality in a wide array of niche spaces. Sophisticated drones could soon be doing everyday tasks like fertilizing crop fields on an automated basis, monitoring traffic incidents, surveying hard-to-reach places, or even delivering pizzas.

At the end of the day, the impact of commercial drones could be $82 billion and a 100,000 job boost to the U.S. economy by 2025.

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Animation: The Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap Over 23 Years

In business, the only constant is change – and for tech companies, this is even more true. Here are the biggest tech companies over 23 years.

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The business world is certainly not a static one.

In the past, we’ve shown that the market leaders in the most stable industries are unlikely to keep their leadership positions over long periods of time.

But limit your window to just the dynamic world of tech and you’ll see an even more extreme example of this inherent volatility. Sometimes companies are able to separate from the rest of the pack for days or months, but it’s never an advantage that lasts for long.

Biggest Tech Companies by Market Cap

Today’s animation was originally posted to Reddit by /r/TheNerdistRedditor and captures the crazy world of tech valuations for public companies.

Watch the intense 1 minute animation below:


Note: the data here only lists companies traded on U.S. exchanges, and does not show every single valuation point.

Over just 23 years, the company topping the list flips eight separate times – and if you were to get more granular with the numbers (looking at daily valuations, for example), you’d see it happen far more often.

Today’s Market Cap Leaders

As we noted above, company valuations are constantly changing – and back in early September 2018, both Apple and Amazon even topped the $1 trillion milestone for a short period of time.

Using the same criteria as the above animation, which is based on U.S. listed companies, here are the top 10 tech companies based on data at time of publication:

RankCompanyTicker(s)Market Cap (March 18, 2019)
#1MicrosoftMSFT$902 billion
#2AppleAAPL$887 billion
#3AmazonAMZN$856 billion
#4AlphabetGOOG, GOOGL$824 billion
#5AlibabaBABA$471 billion
#6FacebookFB$458 billion
#7IntelINTC$243 billion
#8CiscoCSCO$236 billion
#9OracleORCL$192 billion
#10NetflixNFLX$159 billion

Based on March 18, 2019 data

This is not a comprehensive list globally, as it misses companies like Tencent which are listed on other exchanges such as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Based on recent HKD/USD conversion rates, it’s estimated that Tencent would be roughly worth $450 billion today – good enough for 7th on the list.

Regardless, since change is the only constant in the tech world, it’s fair to say that the above list of the biggest tech companies will likely be much different in just a few months time.

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Chart of the Week

The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game – here are the countries and regions projected to contribute the most to global growth in 2019.

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The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game.

As long as the data adds up to economic expansion on a worldwide level, it’s easy to keep the status quo rolling. Companies can shift resources to the growing segments, and investors can put capital where it can go to work.

At the end of the day, growth cures everything – it’s only when it dries up that things get hairy.

Breaking Down Global Growth in 2019

Today’s chart uses data from Standard Chartered and the IMF to break down where economic growth is happening in 2019 using purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Further, it also compares the share of the global GDP pie taken by key countries and regions over time.

Let’s start by looking at where global growth is forecasted to occur in 2019:

Country or RegionShare of Global GDP Growth (PPP) in 2019F
China33%
Other Asia (Excl. China/Japan)29%
United States11%
Middle East & North Africa4%
Euro Area4%
Latin America & Caribbean3%
Other Europe3%
Sub-Saharan Africa2%
Japan1%
United Kingdom1%
Canada1%
Rest of World8%

The data here mimics some of the previous estimates we’ve seen from Standard Chartered, such as this chart which projects the largest economies in 2030.

Asia as a whole will account for 63% of all global GDP growth (PPP) this year, with the lion’s share going to China. Countries like India and Indonesia will contribute to the “Other Asia” share, and Japan will only contribute 1% to the global growth total.

In terms of developed economies, the U.S. will lead the pack (11%) in contributing to global growth. Europe will add 8% between its various sub-regions, and Canada will add 1%.

Share of Global Economy Over Time

Based on the above projections, we were interested in taking a look at how each region or country’s share of global GDP (PPP) has changed over recent decades.

This time, we used IMF projections from its data mapper tool to loosely approximate the regions above, though there are some minor differences in how the data is organized.

Country or RegionShare of GDP (PPP, 1980)Share of GDP (PPP, 2019F)Change
Developing Asia8.9%34.1%+25.2 pp
European Union29.9%16.0%-13.9 pp
United States21.6%15.0%-6.6 pp
Latin America & Caribbean12.2%7.4%-4.8 pp
Middle East & North Africa8.6%6.5%-2.1 pp
Sub-Saharan Africa2.4%3.0%+0.6 pp

In the past 40 years or so, Developing Asia has increased its share of the global economy (in PPP terms) from 8.9% to an estimated 34.1% today. This dominant region includes China, India, and other fast-growing economies.

The European Union and the United States combined for 51.5% of global productivity in 1980, but they now account for 31% of the total economic mix. Similarly, the Latin America and MENA regions are seeing similar decreases in their share of the economic pie.

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