As the World Turns to Digital
On August 10, 2016, the market capitalization leaderboard was as follows:
#1 Apple ($582 billion)
#2 Alphabet ($555.7 billion)
#3 Microsoft ($452.1 billion)
#4 Amazon ($364.4 billion)
#5 Facebook ($358.6 billion)
Facebook just edged out Exxon which was #6 at $358.3 billion.
For the first time in history, the top 5 companies are all digital companies; they are all US companies —but with global reach, impact and influence. They are all relatively young (less than 40 years old) and they are likely to impact traditional industries as they digitize their products, processes and services. These companies have already influenced several sectors such as healthcare, retailing, media & entertainment, telecommunications, automotive, advertising, marketing & communications and so on.
I believe that they are just getting started as they expand their scale and scope at speed that’s unprecedented. With their increasing R&D investments and patenting proclivity, they could exert significant influence as we rely more on artificial intelligence in areas such as conversational bots (example: Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri), drones (Amazon, Facebook, Google), healthcare (Alphabet and Apple), virtual reality (Microsoft hololens and Facebook Oculus), cloud (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google and possibly the other two) and Internet of Things (where all five would jockey in different ways). More opportunities to enhance efficiency as well as usher innovations that solve fundamental problems in industry and society.
We are just getting started and the road to 2020 and beyond will see greater dominance and influence of these digital giants and others such as GE (ranked #8), AT&T (ranked #9), Verizon (ranked #15), Alibaba (ranked #16), Intel (ranked #26) and IBM (ranked #32).
It’s a far different state of affairs than the irrational euphoria of the dotcom boom and bust of 2000. We are truly shifting to a post-industrial, digital era.