Farewell oil, hello tech: the world’s five most valuable companies in 2006 and 2016

NewsFromThePlatform | October 20th, 2016

From smartphones and social media, to virtual reality and artificial intelligence, the tech-oriented world we live in today looks very different to how things were just 10 years ago. In 2006, oil giant Exxon Mobil headed the list of the world’s most valuable companies and Microsoft was the only tech firm near the top. Fast forward to August 2016, and Apple, Google’s Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook dominate the list, while ExxonMobil is the only oil company left in the top five, as has been recently pointed out by the World Economic Forum.

For a brief moment on 1 August, after ExxonMobil’s profits tumbled, the oil giant found itself in sixth place behind Amazon and Facebook. According to Slate this was the first time that the world’s five most valuable companies were all tech. And when the “big five” U.S. tech companies surpass all others in market value, it feels like a cultural moment.

There is great positivity among investors towards companies that deal with technological innovation. And their trust is not casual: “The Global 2000“, Forbes’ annual ranking of the planet’s largest and most powerful public companies includes many tech companies among its first lines: just think that Apple, for instance, is the 8th on the list.

And in Italy? In our country the situation is evolving rapidly: the latest edition of Deloitte’s “Technology Fast 500 EMEA”, which rewards the 500 international tech companies with the fastest revenue growth over the past four years, lists seven Italian companies within the top 80 and one within the top 20. This is a major achievement for these high-tech start-ups that have shown an encouraging growth rate, as stated by Alberto Donato, Deloitte Partner and Head of the Italian branch of Technology Media & Telecommunication (TMT).

But do not think that today’s “best” technology companies – in terms of size, stock market position or growth rate – are necessarily also tomorrow’s big names. As underlined by  Joe Schoendorf , partner at venture capital firm Accel, in his speech at Viva Technology conference – that brings together the world’s major players in digital transformation – “nobody is safe (from disruption). When I came to the Valley, the dominant force was IBM, today all of the top eight companies (of those years) are gone. To sit here and say today’s dominant players are forever, is just not going to happen.”

Technological disruption must always be on the agenda of all the CEOs, since the only way to ensure the survival of tech companies (and not just them) is to continuously innovate, looking for new solutions to improve, change shape, adapt to – and, even better, foresee – changes in the industry.