Most tech companies that are giants today were start ups less than two decades ago, and they owe their rapid growth to the power of the Internet. With traditional stores losing market share and Internet companies taking over due to the convenience of shopping out of one’s home, online companies have quickly become some of the richest and most successful in the world.
Some of these companies are behind influential software and computers, leading the way in how consumers interact with the world around them and use the Internet. Others are newcomers, capitalizing on the booming dotcom industry and becoming industry leaders in social networking, news media, and online retailing to name a few.
These online companies require fewer employees, have almost unlimited virtual inventories, and are quick to turn a profit mainly through advertising. These companies are the companies of the future, names that will be around for decades and which have already left their mark on the world.
Already tapping markets in the developing world, these companies are leading the world in innovation and technology, and seem poised to usher the world into a new super high tech era where anything is possible. Here are the top ten companies that are setting the trends and have the greatest influence on the Internet today.
10 10: The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post is a website that delivers quality news articles and editorials with a focus on political news. It ranked as the number one most popular political site in the US in 2012, and has even won a Pulitzer Prize for its achievements in journalism. AOL bought out the Huffington Post in 2011 and expanded the Post’s reach to over 375 million people.
With its respected reporting and strong reputation as a reliable source of political news and information, the Huffington Post will only grow in prestige and popularity. It may soon receive another Pulitzer Prize for its remarkable online news network.
9 9: Tumblr
Tumblr gets its name for the nickname for short from blogs, called tumbleblogs, and is a site that focuses on hosting blogs as well as social networking. Through the site, users can create their own blogs and follow others' blogs, and can post images and other content for others to view.
8 8: Amazon
Amazon.com, based in Seattle, Washington is the world’s biggest online retailer and was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos who wanted to get in on the booming Internet industry at the time. It began as a retailer for books and was able to offer hundreds of thousands of titles because they did not need to have the actual books in stock in order to sell them; they simply bought from other book retailers and publishers.
Although it took Amazon.com until 2001 to turn a profit, Bezos proved that online vendors could compete against traditional stores and that consumers were turning to the online marketplace for their needs. Now selling millions of books and other products to hundreds of countries, Amazon.com has made itself internet retail giant in just two decades.
7 7: eBay
Founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar, eBay grew quickly from a side hobby to the world’s most popular online bidding site. From 1996 to 1997 alone, the number of bids eBay hosted rose from 200,000 to two million, and in 1998 Pierre Omidyar became an instant billionaire when the company went public.
eBay continued its meteoric rise to success and now has hundreds of millions of registered users, 15,000 employees and brings in annual revenue of over $8 billion per year. By drastically changing how people bought and sold things online and revolutionizing a simple yet effective fee and delivery system, eBay has become the world’s most popular online marketplace and will only grow in its influence and profitability over time.
6 6: Twitter
Founded in 2006 by a group of five individuals, Twitter quickly became popular worldwide as not only a social networking site, but also as a search engine. Ranked as one of the top 10 most visited webpages, users tweet about 340 million times a day and it has over half a billion registered users. Revenues are gained by offering “promoted tweets” to companies that wish their results to turn up in the Twitter search engine.
Twitter also earns money by selling the public tweets and information of its users to data mining companies, which in turn sell the data to advertising companies. By limiting tweets to only 140 characters, Twitter has stood out from other social networking sites by keeping messages brief and as a result encouraging users to post a huge number of tweets per day.
Twitter paved the way for rapid and user friendly social networking and Internet searching and will likely take over even more social media market share over time.
5 5: Facebook
Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has quickly become the world’s largest social networking site, attracting over a billion users and gaining worldwide recognition. Facebook earns about $1.5 billion dollars a year in profit from advertising revenue and is a popular platform for companies and celebrities to connect with their audiences.
It has clearly become a cornerstone of modern culture, with users having their own wall to post on and the ability to communicate anyone from around the world who has Internet access. By connecting so many diverse people in such an astounding way, Facebook has earned its place as the world’s number one site for socializing.
4 4: Yahoo
Founded in 1994 by Jerry Yang and David Filo, Yahoo has quickly grown to compete with tech giants like Google, even surpassing Google’s US visitors at times. Yahoo even had the largest share of display advertising in the US, until Facebook took their spot in 2011. Yahoo not only acts as a search engine but also offers news, financial information, and even online games.
Headed by a former Google executive, Marissa Mayer, Yahoo has quickly made a comeback to being one of the top web destinations. Yahoo generates revenue primarily through advertising and attracts nearly 700 million visitors each month. Yahoo is set to grow larger as a search engine and even more diverse in its service offerings.
3 3: Google
Google makes its profit from advertising search keywords where companies pay Google for each click they receive on their advertisements. Google has its own system of ranking the value of search results called the PageRank system that they copyrighted.
Being both the world’s most popular site and the go-to site for finding all other information on the Internet gives Google an incredible amount of power. It recognizes this fact and its unofficial slogan is “Don’t be evil”, showing that even though Google has a lot of influence in peoples’ day-to-day lives, there's at least some amount of ethical consideration going into its operations. Google will be the top search engine for the foreseeable future and its influence on society - especially with its forays into robotics and connected devices - will only grow over time.
2 2: Apple
Founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976, Apple started out as a company devoted to personal computers but would go on to sell products ranging from iPhones to iPods to the iPad. The profitability of Apple went through the roof in 2000s, culminating in shares hitting an all-time high in 2010.
Having gone from underdog in the 90’s to the dominant PC company, surpassing Microsoft’s market capitalization in 2012 and setting an all-time record, it seems as though Apple has a license to print money. With almost every household having at least several of Apple’s products, such as the Apple TV, iPod, iPhone, or Mac computer, Apple has found the magic formula to getting people to buy into its ecosystem again and again.
Through its ground-breaking technology, it will have a profound impact on both our lives and our relationship with the Internet for many years to come.
1 1: Microsoft
Microsoft is the founder of modern software and computing, and could easily be ranked as one of the most influential companies of the last few decades out of any industry. Founded in 1976 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the company quickly grew to become by far the most popular software and PC Company in the world. As the eighth-largest company in the world by dollar value, Microsoft continues to dominate, particularly in the developing world, through PC operating system sales, productivity software sales, and also with its video game consoles, chiefly the Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Bill Gates in 2013 retook his title as the world’s richest man and now devotes a great deal of his time and financial might to his charity, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Without Microsoft’s innovation and trend setting software and PCs that made computers accessible to the general public, most tech companies never would have been created to begin with. It goes without saying that Microsoft is hands down the most influential tech company of the last 40 years, and will doubtless regain much of its glory with its new software/service first mentality.