The United States Steel was dominant for decades. In 1901, it was the largest company in America. In 1917 when it was worth $46.4 billion, the second company, AT&T, was worth $14.6 billion; Rockefeller’s Standard Oil was 3rd at $10.7 billion.
Fifty years later, in 1967, US Steel was displaced by IBM. As IBM ruled, after overtaking GM, which ruled the mid-1950s, Kodak, Sears (big supermarkets), and Polaroid were top of the leading 10.
But modern American capitalism was changed when Jack Welch took over in GE, as he built arguably one of the finest industrialized conglomerates. The GE of that age was everything, including financial services, power, aerospace, and healthcare. In 1995, GE became the first US company to hit a $100 billion market cap.
Then, the internet was scaled. And the age of mobile internet came. Another company, named Apple, took advantage and touched the face of the financial alpha, hitting $1 trillion, in 2018. Knowledge economy is souped! A new age and transformation born, ushering new species of companies which now dominate the top of US largest public companies, including Microsoft and Alphabet (Google).
Which company will get to $10 trillion first? Microsoft, because AI will drive the next redesign and in this race, Microsoft with ChatGPT, has an edge. Which company will get to $10 trillion first? Microsoft, because AI will drive the next redesign, and in this race, Microsoft with ChatGPT, has an edge. But where Microsoft fails, the winner may not have been born. An orthogonal path with a new basis of competition is possible, to compound leverageable factors at scale, and an entirely new company can do that.
Empires come, empires go – creative destruction in market systems.
US Steel $1 billion 1901
GM $10 billion 1955
GE $100 billion 1995
Apple $1 trillion 2018