The Big Five

I recently heard these five companies referred to as “The Big Five.” You have heard of each of these companies. You have done business with at least one of them (or you are in a coma of course).

If you are a person who considers single entities that are too powerful to be a threat, then these collectors of our information would be a threat. How do they compare in size to the US government?

Apple

$220.46 billion = annual revenue

Amazon

$142.57 billion = annual revenue

Google (Alphabet, Inc.)

$94.76 billion = annual revenue

Microsoft

$87.25 billion = annual revenue

Facebook

$30.29 billion = annual revenue

US Government

$3,200 billion = annual tax revenue

Comparison

The total revenue of the five companies combined equals just under 18% of the US government’s tax revenue. Apple’s revenue by itself is 6.9% of the US government’s revenue. They have not passed the government, but they are starting to be in the ballpark.

What They Know, Snapshot

Apple and Microsoft’s operating systems account for most of our computers. Google controls our internet searches, and Android, and YouTube, and many of our e-mails. Amazon knows what we buy. Facebook knows the rest.

What They Don’t Control

ICANN

Others

One thought on “The Big Five”

  1. I was intrigued by your article about the “big 5“ companies having combined 18% of government tax revenues. However, not sure where you are going with it – are you saying the companies are too large/dominant or are you saying the Government is too large?

    Any case, think the comaparator should be with something like GDP – i.e. total sales in the whole US economy – rather than government tax revenues. This would show (unless I’m getting my trillions an billions mixed up) much less dominance

    – Top 5 are c 3.2% of US GDP, 0.8% World GDP
    – Top 5 are roughly equal to the economy Argentina, 21st largest in the World
    – Apple alone sales are roughly equal to Portugal, 47th in the World.

    However, perhaps on basis of market cap the %’s would be larger.

    So, they are undoubtedly large but not so large to really dominate the world, or even the USA. I think you may also find that some state companies, e.g. Saudi Aramco and Russia’s Gazprom are also pretty huge.

    Also, there is nothing new in this. It used to be said of the Seven Sister oil majors. Not sure, but think you will find that in their hey day their % of World GDP was much larger.

    It is also very interesting that tech companies have completely eclipsed oil in that space, an interesting reflection on how the world is changing. but my guess is they have added to global value rather than taking a larger share of it, if you get my drift – i.e. I suspect the oil majors had a larger share of the global economy but the latter denominator has grown massively with tech.

    In a historical context there have been even more significant/dominant companies. The Honourable East India company was around between the 16th to 19th century and easily the largest company in the World, reaching a peak in the early 1800’s. It’s vast revenues (in 1801 £7.6 bn which would probably dwarf any of today’s top 5 in today’s money) and reserves were larger than what was then the largest economy in the world (Britain). It also had a private army that was several times larger than the British army and a monopoly on trade with India and tea sales to the US. A series of regulatory acts in the houses of parliament, partly stemming from the Boston Tea Party, steadily trimmed back its monopoly powers and raised taxes to a point where it was dissolved in 1874.

    So, perhaps the influence of these modern tech companies is pervasive more from the perspective of their impact on day-to-day lives, controlling what we see and read, rather than financial dominance, which, although large, is not overpowering….

    ……I am far more worried about what your lying, cheating, tweeting, cyber bullying, TV show host of a president is likely to do than the Top 5!

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