Who is More Powerful – Countries or Companies?
With the stock market making major gains this year, the market capitalization of some public companies is soaring to new heights. Market capitalization, or “market cap,” is calculated by multiplying the number of a public company's outstanding shares by the current market price of a share. With several public companies approaching or exceeding the $1 trillion mark in market capitalization, some have values exceeding the GDP of different countries. In this visualization, we compare the GDP of various countries with the market capitalization of some well-recognized brands to see how they stack up.
- Most of these high-value companies are in the tech or financial services industries.
- Microsoft is currently the only public company with a market capitalization exceeding $1 trillion.
- Public companies’ high market caps are particularly apparent when compared against the GDP of developing countries, especially in eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
- In addition to exceeding the value of a lot of smaller countries, some market caps are also comparable to the GDP of much larger countries, such as Argentina and Russia.
We used information from the International Monetary Fund to compile information about each country’s GDP and Yahoo Finance to find market caps for public companies, as of July 8, 2019. In the visualization above, the pink bubbles represent the companies and the gray bubbles represent the countries or regions that have a similar GDP. The bubbles are sized proportionally to the GDP and market cap values; the greater the value, the larger the bubble. All currencies are expressed in USD.
Microsoft, the world’s most valuable public company, has a market cap of $1.05 trillion. The company is known for its dominance in the computing industry, with some of its core products like Windows and Office used on PCs around the world. Microsoft’s market cap is greater than the combined GDP of nine eastern European countries: Estonia ($30.312 billion), Lithuania ($53.323 billion), Latvia ($34.881 billion), Belarus ($59.64 billion), Poland ($586.015 billion), Ukraine ($124.603 billion), Moldova ($11.404 billion), and Slovak Republic ($106.585 billion).
Bank of America
Opening its shares to the public in 1978, Bank of America had the earliest IPO among all the companies in the visualization. Bank of America’s market cap of $278.21 billion amounts to just slightly more than the GDP of the five Central Asian “Stans”: Kazakhstan ($170.539 billion), Uzbekistan ($41.241 billion), Turkmenistan ($44.114 billion), Kyrgyz Republic ($8.093 billion), and Tajikistan ($7.52 billion). The GDP for these five countries is $271.507 billion in total.
Alphabet, the parent company of Google and its subsidiaries, encompasses a wide variety of products and services including search engines, the Android operating system, and enterprise services like G Suite. Alphabet’s market capitalization of $786.092 billion is greater than the GDP of 38 African countries combined. That represents more than 70% of African countries, mostly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the countries include: Lesotho ($2.762 billion), Eswatini ($4.679 billion), Botswana ($18.998 billion), Namibia ($13.824 billion), Zimbabwe ($26.127 billion), Mozambique ($14.428 billion), Angola ($107.316 billion), Zambia ($25.179 billion), Malawi ($6.925 billion), Madagascar ($12.093 billion), and more.
The first major social media network to go public, Facebook remains a top player in the tech space. In recent years, Facebook has grown through its acquisition of other social media platforms such as WhatApp and Instagram. Facebook has also announced its intention to launch its own cryptocurrency, Libra, further diversifying its offerings. Facebook’s current market cap ($560.622 billion) is comparable to the GDP of Argentina ($518.092 billion), which is the second-highest in South America after Brazil.
Amazon has been a major disruptor in the online retail industry, launching services such as Amazon Prime for free shipping and video streaming, AmazonFresh for groceries, and the Amazon Kindle for e-reading. To aid with the demand for delivery services, Amazon plans to increase its aircraft fleet to 70 planes by 2021. Amazon's market cap is about the same as the GDP of nine countries in Latin America: Colombia ($333.114 billion), Uruguay $60.18 billion), Paraguay ($41.604 billion), Bolivia ($41.41 billion), Peru ($225.203 billion), Ecuador ($107.511 billion), Venezuela ($98.468 billion), Guyana ($3.636 billion), and Suriname ($3.427 billion). In total, these countries have a GDP of $914.553 billion, while Amazon has a market cap of $956.557 billion.
Visa is one of the leading financial services firms in the world, expanding its offerings from credit cards and electronic transfers to its new blockchain product B2B Connect. Visa’s market capitalization of $398.008 billion is greater than the GDP of nine Central American countries, including Costa Rica ($59.006 billion), Panama ($65.206 billion), Nicaragua ($13.258 billion), Honduras ($23.778 billion), El Salvador ($26.057 billion), Guatemala ($78.979 billion), Belize ($1.925 billion), Jamaica ($15.422 billion), and Dominican Republic ($80.94 billion).
Initially founded as a DVD rental store, Netflix is now one of the most popular streaming services in the world. In recent years, Netflix has transitioned from being a database of movies and TV shows to also creating its own original content, such as “Stranger Things” and “Orange is the New Black.” Netflix’s market capitalization of $166.384 billion is greater than the GDP of five Balkan states, including Serbia ($50.651 billion), Bosnia and Herzegovina ($19.881 billion), Montenegro ($5.402 billion), North Macedonia ($12.669 billion), and Croatia ($60.688 billion). These five countries have a combined GDP of $149.291 billion.
The brainchild of Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has revolutionized the tech industry through its innovative products, ranging from the Mac computer to the iPhone. The company has recently been under fire over privacy concerns, especially related to products like the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Apple’s market capitalization of $939.678 billion is equal to more than half of Russia’s GDP ($815.3295 billion). Russia has the twelfth-highest GDP in the world.
Big companies’ influence is spreading everywhere, and not everybody likes that. For example, the ECB has already shown some concerns about Facebook’s intention to launch its own currency. Some people are also concerned about the political influence that these tech companies hold; Google alone spent $21.7 million on lobbying last year. As more calls for tech regulation arise, it will be interesting to see how market capitalization changes, if at all.
What surprised you most about big companies compared to different countries’ GDP? Please let us know in the comments.
Data: Table 1.1