The 10 Most Important Technology Companies
Ten years ago, technology brands were hardly the sexy story they are today. Not surprising given predominant computing devices were beige box PCs resembling cathode ray tube TVs.
Silicon Valley has been at the heart of it all. With transformative tech figures spanning Apple founder Steve Jobs, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Marc Benioff of Salesforce and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, the best and the brightest are here. It’s no wonder that storied Sand Hill Road is home to the biggest players in venture capital, including Andreessen Horowitz, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Benchmark Capital, among others.
These amazing companies, investors and entrepreneurs have changed the world. Within them and the network of support industries there’s a shared psyche that has emerged among the Valley’s ecosystem of innovators. What’s taken hold is a collective consciousness around a set of principles that define the best products in the world.
By and large the best companies engender trust and transparency, the future of work and the future of society. They have a vision to transform work and play into the future, have staying power in their investments in research, and social and economic impact on a global scale. We aspire to work with these types of companies at Bateman Group, and in some instances do, and hold ourselves to similar values and standards.
In alphabetical order, below are the 10 most important technology brands today and for many years to come.
Ranked #5 on the Fortune 500 list, Apple’s market cap is nearly $700 billion. That’s more than Google and Facebook — combined. While many question if Apple can stay on top without Steve Jobs, there’s no question the company is poised to make, break and disrupt tech markets for many years to come. Since launching the iOS App Store six years ago, the app economy has flourished, with other major platforms from Google and Amazon taking a lesson out of Apple’s playbook. Chances are high that you’re reading this blog from your iPhone or iPad.
CloudFlare is one of a handful of earlier stage, privately held technology companies on my list, alongside Lookout, Ping Identity and Uber. CloudFlare makes software that helps websites run faster and more securely. In a world dominated by headlines about targeted attacks against media, political, cause-related, business and commerce sites, CloudFlare is creating a more trustworthy Internet by allowing the most important web sites in the world to keep the lights on against DNS attacks.
Facebook has created more than $200 billion in market cap since Mark Zuckerberg founded the company in his dorm room at Harvard 10 years ago. In 2014, Facebook surpassed 1.35 billion monthly active users, or approximately one fifth of the world population. Facebook is a seminal example of how big data and smart, elegant design can change how people and brands interact with and through the web. In addition to making the social giant $15 billion in fiscal year 2015, Facebook’s innovation in advertising and mobile design is breathing new life into a distressed, print-first media industry.
Founded 16 years ago, Google turned its AdWords technology into a cornerstone of the web’s ability to monetize itself, allowing free access to the data, information and insights people and businesses rely on every day. Search and information discovery are just the tip of the iceberg for Google, which is also one of the top two platforms, alongside Apple, powering the app economy with its Android operating system and app store. The company’s cloud-based productivity apps are changing the way people communicate, collaborate and innovate in the workplace. There’s more. Wearables. Maps. A smart home thermostat. Google is everywhere and leading the way everywhere they go.
LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, is uniquely positioned in the business world. Facebook may overshadow LinkedIn in sheer size, but the professional network’s role in people’s future is far more certain. LinkedIn has forever changed business networking and marketing and its role for people in their careers and in sales will remain unchallenged. At the core of its culture, LinkedIn also aims high to create economic opportunity worldwide. LinkedIn continues to evolve as its moves into defining Influencer professionals and media distribution, taking a next logical step that ushers content marketing and big data into the future. LinkedIn’s role in social selling, combined with data and media, will be a game-changing force in people’s careers and business sales for years to come.
With more than 50 million users around the world, Lookout is the security leader for mobile-based threats, including malware and theft. In a world where devices have overtaken the PC, Lookout is at the forefront of research and innovation to enable a safer, more trustworthy mobile experience for people and businesses alike. While Lookout doesn’t have the market caps of Apple, Facebook or Google (yet), the company has attracted nearly $300 million in venture financing from investors like Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Kholsa Ventures and T. Rowe Price.
The nearly $50 billion invested in IT security products each year is costing businesses $200 billion in password-related losses annually. As people traverse myriad connected devices and applications at work and elsewhere, identity is becoming a critical layer in the new IT stack designed to solve the security challenge of an increasingly mobile world. Ping Identity is the company leading the movement towards identity-based security, with technology that protects the identities of approximately one billion people worldwide. What’s really cool is that they do this behind the scenes without us even knowing it – no app required. The privately held company has raised $110 million in venture financing from a fleet of top tier investors, including Draper Fisher Jurvetson, General Catalyst Partners, SAP Ventures and KKR.
The world’s largest seller of consumer electronics, Samsung is a powerhouse whose business units touch diverse industries. The leading worldwide seller of smartphones has products spanning wearable technology, tablets, PCs, HDTVs and far beyond. It’s got a vision of the future with next-generation headsets such as its Samsung Gear VR as well. What’s even more remarkable about Samsung is that its chip foundries are equally massive and supply the world’s electronics makers, such as Apple, with key processors. But its business as the leading seller of Android devices assures it a leading and important spot as rival to Apple. Samsung’s ability to keep the most innovative company in the world on its toes, while continuously grafting itself into new markets, makes it one of the most important technology companies. Period.
All-electric automaker Tesla Motors is revolutionizing the auto industry. In under a decade, the company founded by Elon Musk has gone from concept to publicly traded U.S. automaker. This year, Consumer Reports awarded it Best Overall car of 2014. Tesla represents a new brand of automaker forged from the genius of Musk and the ethos of Silicon Valley. The automaker’s focus on design, software, battery technology and manufacturing has set a new industry standard. Global automakers are watching Tesla, whose electric cars do double the distance of rivals. It may be years before automakers have similar software running their cars as Tesla. And by then who knows where Tesla will be next. The sky is the limit, and Musk is there too with his company SpaceX.
Uber is at the forefront of the frictionless economy. The company has paved the way in using software, location services and simple design to make hailing cabs a thing of the past. Its personal limo-by-app service has become such the standard for “instant gratification” business that an army of startups have come forward positioned as the Uber of this or that. Since launching in 2009, the app-based driver service has landed in more than 200 cities around the world and shows no signs of slowing. While its valuation grows for its limitless potential to expand, its technical underpinnings and concept imply wider applications.
DISCLOSURE: Google, Lookout and Ping Identity are clients of Bateman Group.