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Patent Wars: Who is Winning the Battle for Tech Innovation Supremacy?

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Patent Wars: The Battle for Tech Innovation

In the technology industry, the imperative to innovate is never-ending.

After all, the speed of technological change is exponential – and if a company like Microsoft or Google misses one important trend, it can drastically alter the direction of future prospects.

For the above reasons, both tech giants and unicorns are laser-focused on hiring the best engineering talent available, and deploying it to come up with the new innovations, business models, and game-changing products that they feel comfortable betting their futures on.

The Patent War Visualized

Today’s interactive visualization comes to us from The UK Domain, and it shows the amount of patents won by tech giants as well as unicorn startups.

Specifically, it pulls data from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, categorizing hundreds of thousands of patents by company, technology, and even CEO.

While the data is quite comprehensive, it’s also worth noting that recent years of data may be incomplete because there is up to an 18-month lag between patent registration and those patents becoming public.

Who’s Winning the Battle?

Here is a look solely at the quantity of patents awarded over recent years:

Overall patents awarded

Interestingly, the list tends to skew towards companies with a hardware focus, even though many of their software counterparts are larger in terms of market capitalization.

For example, Samsung has 138,934 patents registered, which is more than Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and Netflix combined.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. – better known as Foxconn – is also one of the highest-ranking companies on the list with 25,356 patents, about the same amount as its partner company Apple.

Unicorn Lightweights

Unicorns, which are startups valued at over $1 billion, also have a tough time competing with the tech giants on the patent front.

Number of unicorn patents
Note: it looks like the source has included both public and private companies on this “unicorn” list

Many unicorns are newer companies, which means that the 18-month lag in patents entering the public domain may have a considerable effect on totals.

Still, it’s amazing to see that companies like Uber and Lyft – two competitors that have confidentially filed to go public in 2019 – have fewer than 200 patents between them.

Even if you combine all patents by the companies on the above chart, it works out to roughly 1,000 registered patents. To put that in perspective, that’s not even equal to 1% of Samsung’s gigantic total.

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What is the Median Pay of Magnificent Seven Companies?

The Magnificent Seven companies are fueling stock market gains. In this graphic, we show the median pay of each company in 2023.

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This circle graphic shows the median pay of employees at the Magnificent Seven companies.

What is the Median Pay of Magnificent Seven Companies?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The Magnificent Seven are lifting the stock market to new highs, led by Nvidia, Microsoft, Apple, and Alphabet in particular.

In May alone, these tech giants added $1.4 trillion in market capitalization to the S&P 500—surpassing the combined gains of 296 other stocks during the same period. Notably, Nvidia contributed to more than half of this rise. As tech stocks boom, many are offering robust salaries with substantial stock option plans.

This graphic shows the median pay of the Magnificent Seven companies in 2023, based on analysis from The Wall Street Journal and MyLogIQ.

The Highest Paying Companies in the Magnificent Seven

Below, we show the median employee pay of the Magnificent Seven companies in 2023:

CompanyMedian Employee Pay
2023
CEO Total Pay
2023
Meta$379,050$24.4M
Alphabet$315,531$8.8M
Nvidia$266,939$34.2M
Microsoft$193,770$48.5M
Apple$94,118$63.2M
Tesla$45,811$0M
Amazon$36,274$1.4M

Data for Microsoft is from SEC filings. Total CEO pay includes equity awards and cash pay.

Meta ranks as the highest overall, with a median pay of $379,050, which is more than six times the national median salary.

Not only is it the leading company in the Magnificent Seven, it has one of the highest median pay across S&P 500 companies. Between 2022 and 2023, employee pay increased 28%, following four rounds of layoffs that slashed thousands of employees in its “year of efficiency”.

Following Meta is Google’s parent company, Alphabet, with a median pay of $315,531. The company operates a hybrid work policy, requiring employees to be in the office about three days a week. This mirrors a trend seen across Amazon and Salesforce to encourage in-person collaboration.

At Nvidia, employees received a median pay of $266,939, fueled by its soaring share price. Last year, over $300 million in value was delivered to its staff under its employee stock purchase plan. Along with a competitive pay package, the company offers an unlimited vacation policy along with 22-weeks of paid parental leave.

Falling near the bottom of the pack is Tesla, where the median salary for employees is $45,811. The automotive sector is notorious for steep wage gaps between CEOs and workers, with CEOs often earning 300 times more than the median employee.

In 2023, Tesla CEO Elon Musk earned no compensation, and is instead paid through incentive-based stock options. Recently, a judge invalidated a staggering $56 billion pay package for the executive, deeming it unfair to the company’s shareholders. This pay package was awarded in 2018, with stipulations that Tesla meet certain performance requirements over a 10-year timeframe.

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