Billions? That’s peanuts. The world’s 10 biggest tech companies are worth nearly $6 trillion.
Technology’s 10 largest companies, globally
It used to be that most of the biggest technology companies in the world were based in the U.S, in the section of California known as the Silicon Valley. But today, the planet’s 10 most valuable tech companies aren’t guaranteed to be American companies; you’ll notice a growing Eastern influence on this list – a trend that’s unlikely to abate any time soon. Regardless of geography, or even if shares are publicly traded on a major American exchange, here are the top 10 tech stocks in the world today, by valuation.
Updated on Aug. 2, 2018: This article was first published on May 29, 2018, and has been updated with new information.
10. Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO): $200 billion
Cisco became one of the most valuable tech companies the old-fashioned way: selling the hardware that makes the internet go. Specifically, Cisco has huge market share – above 50 percent globally in recent years – in routers and ethernet switches. Your office computer couldn’t connect to the printer down the hall, much less other networks and websites, without these critical components of infrastructure. Cisco isn’t a growth giant, but it’s certainly a cash cow, with more than $50 billion on hand it’s spending to diversify and earn more recurring revenue in cloud, security and elsewhere. Other vital, widely used services like firewalls, VPNs, and conferencing are also enabled by CSCO.
9. Intel Corp. (INTC): $250 billion
Intel, an old-school semiconductor company founded in 1968, did quite well in the 1990s when its stock grew asymmetrically as the personal computer revolution drove massive demand for Intel’s chips. Worries that INTC would crater as mobile usage overtook desktop, though, have proven wildly overblown. Yes, Intel’s PC chip business is still meaningful, but it also makes transistors for tablets and gaming systems. More importantly, Intel smartly shifted into the data center business, a segment growing more than 20 percent annually. Using profits from its chip business, it’s diversifying into higher-growth areas like artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, as shown by its $15 billion acquisition of computer vision leader Mobileye.
8. Samsung Electronics: $289 billion
Where is it written that you’ve got to be listed on a major U.S. exchange to be one of the 10 most valuable tech companies in the world? The South Korea-based Samsung Electronics has grown like wildfire over the last decade, and has proven a worthy competitor of Apple (AAPL) in the mobile business, with its popular line of Galaxy smartphones and tablets. The company is heavily traded on Asian and European exchanges, giving it a valuation around $300 billion. Revenue grew 19 percent in 2017 while profits shot up a remarkable 86 percent. Ubiquitous in its industry, the company also sells TVs, laptops, security systems and appliances.
7. Tencent Holdings: $432 billion
Tencent has quickly emerged as an important player in Asia’s technological renaissance; unfortunately, it hasn’t yet debuted on a major American exchange, although it trades on an over-the-counter exchange. Technically, Tencent is a sprawling Chinese holding company, but at heart it’s a tech dynamo, with massive and thriving endeavors in gaming, social media, music, e-commerce and online video. WeChat, Tencent’s messaging, social media and payments platform, has more than 1 billion users. The company’s Tencent Games division is already the world’s single largest gaming company, behind names like “League of Legends,” “Arena of Valor” and “Fortnite,” along with hundreds of other popular franchises. Revenue growth clocked in at 56 percent in 2017.
6. Alibaba Group Holding (BABA): $496 billion
China’s largest e-commerce company is an absolute growth machine – and compound growth goes haywire when it’s 30 to 60 percent annually over a handful of years. Alibaba revenue soared from $8.6 billion in fiscal 2014 to $37.8 billion in fiscal 2018. Not only is BABA a significant player in China’s mobile e-commerce landscape, but it’s also getting more into physical retail with supermarkets and grocery delivery. It’s also seeing huge growth in international retail, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, and Ant Financial – an Alibaba affiliate that’s risen rapidly to become the most valuable fintech company in the world.
5. Facebook (FB): $618 billion
Facebook faced investor and consumer backlash after reports that data on more than 80 million American users were improperly accessed by shady political actors seeking to influence the 2016 U.S. elections. But on Wall Street, money talks more loudly than actions, and after shares plunged from $195 to under $145 in a matter of months, the stock quickly rebounded. There’s simply no rival to FB’s 2.2 billion users and counting, and the company’s portfolio of popular offerings implies more growth to come. Messenger and WhatsApp each have more than 1.3 billion users, Instagram is approaching 1 billion, and Oculus hopes to be a long-term winner in virtual reality.
4. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT): $840 billion
Microsoft has been one of the largest, and arguably best, tech companies in the world since the 1990s. But CEO Satya Nadella, who took the reins from Steve Ballmer in 2014, has revitalized the company, quickly pivoting MSFT into the cloud, where its high-margin Azure computing platform has grown at a torrid pace. The Xbox platform continues to dominate system-based gaming, Bing remains meaningful, the acquired professional network LinkedIn is growing rapidly, and Microsoft’s Surface tablet is also thriving. The decision to create a cloud-based Office 365 product (think recurring subscription revenue) has worked brilliantly, and Nadella is positioning Microsoft to be one of the leading AI companies.
Holding company Alphabet’s crown gem is Google, the Mountain View, California-based search giant that’s increasingly going head-to-head with Facebook in the duopolistic digital advertising market. Not only is Google the world’s most dominant search engine, it’s peeling away a larger and larger chunk of marketers’ traditional TV ad budgets as YouTube expands. GOOGL is plowing into other growth markets left and right, going after e-commerce with Google Shopping; the mobile economy with its own Google Pixel smartphone and its dominant Android OS; smart devices with Google Home, Nest and other connected devices; and driverless cars, where it’s racing forward with self-driving tech and owns a stake in Uber.
2. Amazon (AMZN): $894 billion
Somehow, Amazon.com lived up to the hype. Far from crashing and burning like Pets.com and other casualties of the ’90s internet bubble, Amazon thrived, by 2015 crossing $100 billion in revenue. Today, it’s truly “the everything store,” and despite its size, keeps growing like a weed; revenue is expected to exceed $230 billion in 2018. Amazon’s growth levers are astounding. It boasts more than 100 million Prime members (now $119 annually), AWS is the leading cloud computing platform at a run rate topping $21 billion, and Alexa-enabled devices now reach tens of millions of households. The acquisition of Whole Foods also gives Amazon a brick-and-mortar presence – and real-world laboratory.
1. Apple: $1.01 trillion (AAPL)
Not only is Apple the most valuable tech company in the world, it’s the most valuable company – period – in the world. On Aug. 2, 2018, it became the first $1 trillion enterprise. The closed-system philosophy of late founder Steve Jobs is arguably Apple’s greatest asset; Apple makes its own hardware and software, and has amassed millions of loyal followers and a blockbuster product, the iPhone, that people line up around the block to pay $800 to $1,000 for annually. A $100 billion share buyback program, inspired by tax reform, plus revenue from iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, and services like Apple Pay and iTunes, put AAPL in a league of its own.