A Visual History of the Largest Companies by Market Cap (1999-Today)

a visual history of the largest companies by market capitalization

The macro narrative underlying the market is constantly being revised.

While this is partly a function of changes in investor sentiment, it is also driven by game-changing events as well as much more structural market forces.

Reading: Largest market cap companies 2000

For example, how does the macroeconomic picture change after a drop in commodity prices? what will happen when the market really understands the unprecedented scale of the technology?

an evolving narrative

In this week’s chart, we look at how the overall narrative has changed over time using a very simple approach.

We have visualized the market capitalizations of the 10 largest public companies in the world in five-year intervals from 1999 to today, and it gives us a series of snapshots of what the market was “thinking” during these specific periods.

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Not only is this evident as certain industries rise to prominence, but there are also some interesting individual stories to follow. we can see iconic companies, like apple, rise in the public consciousness, while others disappear completely from the radar.

the composition of the top 10 changes in each of the snapshots above, and this simple approach helps capture the market narrative for each timeframe.

During the dotcom bubble, you can see that half of the list was dominated by tech companies. this was short-lived and the years 2004, 2009 and 2014 have much more diverse lists.

you can also see the impact of the financial crisis in the us. uu. company valuations. in 2009, there is an equal distribution of Chinese and American companies. royal dutch shell (uk/netherlands) and petrobras (brazil) help round out the top 10.

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Finally, in the last five years, you can see the impact of lower oil prices and the increasing scale of the technology. In 2014, Exxon Mobil was the second largest company in the world by a solid margin, but today it has been displaced by the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Tencent and Alibaba.

the era of great technology

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This is the current list of the 10 largest companies in the world by market capitalization:

In total, the five largest tech giants generated a combined $801.5 billion in revenue last year and $139 billion in net income.

the staying power of microsoft

At a current valuation of just over $1 trillion, Microsoft is once again the world’s largest company by market capitalization.

This brings the above lists full circle, as Microsoft was also the largest company in 1999.

While the software giant experienced brief periods of falling from grace, Microsoft was the only company to appear in the list of the top five snapshots above.

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