The 10 largest global tech companies
There was a time, not so long ago, when you could expect to find the 10 most valuable tech companies in the world all within the U.S. In fact, you might find them all conveniently nestled up next to each other in a 50-square-mile area in California called Silicon Valley. But those days are gone. Over the years, the number of top 10 technology companies clustered in the San Francisco Bay area has steadily declined. Increasingly, Asia-based companies are breaking their way into the top 10; in 2020, four Eastern companies made the cut. Here are the world’s 10 most valuable tech companies by market cap.
Nvidia Corp. (ticker: NVDA)
Market value: $310 billion
Nvidia is the only new name among the top 10 most valuable tech stocks in the world. A year ago, semiconductor rival Intel Corp. (INTC) rounded out No. 10 on the list, but it has since been leapfrogged by the processor giant Nvidia. Known for its high-performance graphics processing units that help power artificial intelligence and modern gaming, Nvidia has put up incredible growth numbers, with year-over-year revenue in the last quarter growing by 50% to $3.87 billion. Now the most valuable U.S. chipmaker, the company just moved to acquire smartphone-chip designer Arm for up to $40 billion in a record-setting cash-and-stock deal. Using NVDA’s rich share price — the stock is up more than 100% year to date through mid-September — to finance $21.5 billion of the deal is a savvy move.
Samsung Electronics (SSNLF)
Market value: $339 billion
The South Korea-based Samsung Electronics has also been growing prodigiously over the last decade, and in the process has emerged as arguably Apple’s (AAPL) most annoying yet venerable opponent in the smartphone business. Its popular line of Galaxy smartphones and tablets has been a big hit with consumers, and the company was in a seven-year court battle with Apple over smartphone patents until 2018. Samsung is heavily traded on Asian and European exchanges, giving a valuation of more than $300 billion. Ubiquitous in its industry, the company also sells TVs, laptops, security systems and appliances. Expect Samsung to be at the forefront of foldable devices and 5G-enabled mobile technology.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSM)
Market value: $393 billion
TSM took Cisco Systems’ (CSCO) spot among the top 10 tech companies last year, and in 2020, it moved up one additional spot. As for what the company does, it’s all in the name; TSM is known as a semiconductor foundry — a company that takes other chipmakers’ designs and manufactures the technology for them. This often ends up as a win-win scenario for both parties, as the machines required to produce integrated circuits, transistors and high-quality semiconductors are large, complex and expensive. The fact that TSM has been able to do it well and at scale since the late ’80s has earned it customers like Apple — and ultimately a spot on this list. Despite the pandemic, TSM’s revenue jumped nearly 29% year over year in the second quarter as net income rocketed 81% higher.
Tencent Holdings (TCEHY)
Market value: $650 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 its heart, it’s a tech dynamo, with thriving operations in gaming, communications, social media, music, e-commerce and online video. WeChat, Tencent’s messaging, social media and payments platform, has more than 1 billion daily active users. The company’s Tencent Games division is already the world’s single largest gaming company, with games like League of Legends, Arena of Valor and Fortnite, along with hundreds of other popular franchises. Revenue growth clocked in at 28% year over year in the second quarter. President Donald Trump issued a ban on U.S. transactions made through WeChat, an executive order that is being challenged in courts — and one that has had little negative impact on Tencent’s valuation.
Alibaba Group Holding (BABA)
Market value: $730 billion
China’s largest e-commerce company is an absolute growth machine — and compound growth goes haywire when it’s 30% to 60% annually over a handful of years. 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. International retail, cloud computing and logistics are all growing rapidly as well, and Ant Financial — an Alibaba affiliate that has risen rapidly to become the most valuable fintech company in the world — is a gold mine, with an upcoming 2020 initial public offering on Asian exchanges expected to value the company above $200 billion. BABA will likely be one of the most valuable tech companies in the world for years to come.
Market value: $760 billion
Although Facebook faced intense public scrutiny following the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, the company’s standing on Wall Street hasn’t been impacted in the least, with FB stock hitting new all-time highs in 2020. The social media giant has more than 3.1 billion monthly active people on its family of apps (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram), and it’s merely in the early stages of leveraging that reach to enter the nearly $4 trillion global e-commerce market. Facebook Shops, which allows businesses to set up online stores across Facebook’s apps, launched in 2020, representing an extremely attractive avenue for growth.
Market value: $1.05 trillion
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, but it’s peeling away a larger chunk of marketers’ traditional TV ad budgets as YouTube expands. Alphabet is plowing into other growth markets, too, going after e-commerce with Google Shopping; the mobile economy with the Google Pixel smartphone and its dominant Android OS; smart devices with Google Home, Nest and other connected devices; and driverless cars, where it’s betting heavily on self-driving tech through its $30 billion Waymo subsidiary and multibillion-dollar equity stake in Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT).
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
Market value: $1.6 trillion
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 has worked brilliantly, and Nadella is positioning Microsoft to be one of the leading AI companies. Part of the elite $1 trillion club, MSFT continued to grow in relevance in 2020 as its Microsoft Teams workplace collaboration software had 69 organizations with more than 100,000 users using the service through June.
Market value: $1.6 trillion
Somehow, Amazon.com lived up to the hype. Far from crashing and burning like Pets.com and other casualties of the dot-com bubble, Amazon thrived, passing $100 billion in revenue in 2015. Today, it’s truly “the everything store,” and despite its size, the company keeps growing like a weed. Amazon’s growth levers are astounding: It boasts more than 150 million Prime members worldwide. Amazon Web Services is the top cloud computing platform 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 a real-world laboratory. It’s no mystery why AMZN is one of the world’s 10 most valuable tech companies — and Amazon won’t stop there, with investments in drone delivery technology and plans for more than 1,000 suburban delivery hubs.
Market value: Around $2 trillion
The businesses this high up on the list will likely be some of the biggest tech companies in the world for a long time. The closed-system philosophy of late founder Steve Jobs is arguably Apple’s greatest asset: Apple makes its own hardware and software, and it 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. Apple has aggressively used its share buyback program, aided by tax reform, to buy back hundreds of billions of dollars in stock in recent years. Revenue from iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, and services like Apple Pay and iTunes put AAPL among the technological elite.
The 10 most valuable tech companies in the world:
1. Apple (AAPL): $2 trillion
2. Amazon.com (AMZN): $1.6 trillion
3. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT): $1.6 trillion
4. Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL): $1.05 trillion
5. Facebook (FB): $760 billion
6. Alibaba Group Holding (BABA): $730 billion
7. Tencent Holdings (TCEHY): $650 billion
8. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSM): $393 billion
9. Samsung Electronics (SSNLF): $339 billion
10. Nvidia Corp. (NVDA): $310 billion
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Update 09/17/20: This article was published on a previous date and has been updated to include new information.