5. Exxon Mobil
Age of company: 135 years
No of employees: 73,500
The world’s largest oil and gas company has dropped from number one last year to number five. The company was formed in 1999 when two giants, Exxon and Mobil, merged their businesses.
4. Berkshire Hathaway
Age of company: 128 years
No of employees: 360,000.
The largest company on the list not involved in technology has its origins as far back as 1888 as a textile company. It is now a holding company with interests a wide variety of sectors including utilities, railroads and insurance companies. It is part owned by well-known investor Warren Buffet.
Age of company: 42 years
No of employees: 114,000
Apple’s most famous rival Microsoft also started in a garage, where Bill Gates and Paul Allen put together their first computer. Microsoft was officially founded in 1975, a year earlier than Apple.
Age of company: 2 years
No of employees: 69,953
Alphabet has a much more famous subsidiary, Google. Alphabet, founded in 2015 by the same people who started Google, is a collection of companies with interests in many sectors including medical research and wearable technology
Age of company: 41 years
Number of employees: 66,000
The first Apple computer was built in Steve Jobs’ parents’ garage. Apple has an estimated net worth of $605 billion, and is often called the world’s most valuable company. In 2016, however, it had to contend with falling sales of the iPhone.
Is bigger better?
Globalization is largely responsible for companies being able to grow to such a size. But does bigger mean better?
On the plus side, companies with this kind of reach can transform our lives. Apple’s iPhone led the word into the era of the smartphone with apps that touch our lives in almost any way you can imagine. Smartphones made by Apple and other tech companies are now central to our lives.
Many of these large companies are investing heavily in research that could help us improve our lives, such as products that keep us healthy. Many of the services they provide (Facebook and the search engine Google, for example) are free to use.
They also invest in solutions to problems all over the world. Facebook’s Aquila aims to provide internet access to millions, while Johnson and Johnson poured millions into helping formulate the Ebola vaccine. It also supported health-worker training on infection control and prevention in African countries where Ebola was prevalent.
On the negative side, large multinational corporations have generated negative headlines in relation to their tax-reduction strategies.