When I graduated from University, I had the dream of working at one of the largest companies in the world.
Well, I think working for a large company gives you lots of exposure.
It opens your eye to international best practices in the business world.
Bonus: working for the largest companies gets you a hefty compensation.
Big is better (most times!)
So, if you are anything like me, you are probably asking “who are the largest companies in the world?”
According to Fortune Global 500, the top 10 largest companies in the world are: Walmart, Sinopec Group, Amazon, China National Petroleum, State Grid, Royal Dutch Shell, Volkswagen, BP, Toyota and Apple.
But “large-ness” is a relative term.
There are many ways to classify the largest companies in the world.
Companies are large by sales revenue, by profit, by number of employees, and by brand value.
Largest companies in the world by sales revenue
Sales revenue refers to money businesses earn from selling goods and services to customers…
How companies earn sales revenue?
Companies, no matter how large or how small, earn revenue from sales of products or sales of services.
For example, when you buy groceries from Walmart or a new Toyota Corolla from Toyota Motors or a Macbook Pro from Apple, you help these companies boost their sales revenue.
Top 5 largest companies in the world by sales revenue
Walmart, the world’s largest company by sales revenue, is a discount retail giant headquartered in the United States.
Founded in 1962 by Sam Walton in Rogers Arkansas, Walmart has over 10,500 stores in 24 countries. And approximately 220 million customers visit Walmart stores and ecommerce website each week!
No wonder Walmart has retained its place as the world’s largest company since 2014.
Sinopec, the second-largest company in the world by sales revenue, is a petroleum and petrochemical company owned by the Chinese state.
Established in 1998, Sinopec Group has since diversified into investment management and international logistics and e-commerce.
Sinopec Group has its headquarters in Beijing, China.
Amazon is an American retail and technology company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States.
Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos (the richest man in the world), Amazon’s offerings are basically in 5 areas: Amazon store, Delivery and Logistics, Devices and Services, Amazon Web Services, and Entertainment.
The company has attained dominance in both retail and information technology using innovative technologies to disrupt old industries.
China National Petroleum is a state owned international energy company with interests in oil and gas operations, oilfield services, petroleum engineering and construction, equipment manufacturing, financial services and new energy development.
Established in 1988, China National Petroleum Corporation is a parent company to many other subsidiaries in the energy space.
For example, Chinese National Petroleum has the highest controlling interest in Petrochina, an energy company listed in the New York Stock Exchange. Petrochina has also been listed in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock Exchange.
State Grid Corporation of China is the fifth largest company in the world by sales revenue.
Established and run by the Chinese state, State Grid sells power to over 1.1 billion people in China, and operates in over 9 countries, including Portugal, Australia and Brazil.
State Grid is currently the largest utility company in the world by sales revenue and number of customers served.
Largest companies in the world by profit
Profit is the money earned by a business after removing cost of goods sold and other operational expenses.
How companies earn profit?
Companies report profit after taking out money spent to buy the goods sold or money spent to pay salaries to employees.
For example, when you buy a Macbook Pro for $1,900, Apple instantly earns $1,900 in revenue.
However, the profit from this transaction is the amount left after removing money spent to make the Macbook and other expenses, such as salaries.
Profits earned by companies vary across industries.
Companies might earn high revenues, but after removing manufacturing cost and operating expenses, the money left as profit won’t be much.
Other industries might not earn as much revenue. But because manufacturing and operating expenses are quite low, they end up with much higher profits.
So, while Walmart remains the largest company in the world by sales revenue, it’s not the largest company in the world by profit.
Top 5 largest companies in the world by profit
Apple is currently the world’s largest company by profits. It reported a consolidated profit of $57.4 billion in 2020, making it the largest company in the world by profits.
Founded in 1974 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne to sell personal computers, Apple has its core focus in personal computers, smartphone manufacturing, software development, and online services.
Apple is currently the largest technology company in the world by sales revenue, and also the most valuable brand in the world!
Saudi Aramco is an oil and natural gas company headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government has significant stakes in Saudi Aramco and has recently put up only a tiny portion in the stock exchange. The government did this to reduce running costs.
Saudi Aramco has over 270 billion proven barrels of crude oil in reserve, and its daily oil production is the largest in the world.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is a multinational Chinese bank considered to be the largest bank in the world.
Founded in 1984 as a limited liability company, The Chinese state wholly owns ICBC.
ICBC made over $45 billion in 2020, making it the largest bank in the world by profit…
Microsoft is currently the world’s fourth largest company by profits, reporting a consolidated profit of $44.2 billion in 2020.
Founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Microsoft quickly dominated the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS, and then Microsoft Windows.
Today, Microsoft has expanded its focus from social media to quantum computing and even to artificial intelligence.
It’s currently ranked as one of the most valuable brands in the world.
Berkshire Hathaway is a conglomerate headquartered in the United States. Berkshire wholly owns some popular companies such as GEICO and Duracell.
Founded in 1955 by a merger of two successful companies, Warren Buffet (the 6th richest person in the world) and his philosophical vice chairman, Charlie Munger, runs Berkshire Hathaway.
Berkshire is popular because of its annual shareholders’ meeting, where Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger shares “worldly wisdom.”
Largest companies in the world by number of employees
Want to know how large a company really is?
Look at the number of people on its payroll.
Be careful, though, because most times more people doesn’t necessarily mean more successful.
For example, technology companies can use very few people to deliver massive value to customers. It doesn’t mean then that they are less successful because they employ very few people.
On a general level, though, the more people working at a company, the more extensive its operations.
Top 5 largest companies in the world by number of employees
Foxconn is a Taiwanese private company headquartered in Tuacheng, New Taipei City, Taiwan.
It’s the largest private employer of labor in the whole of China.
Founded by Terry Gou as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. in 1974, Foxconn Technology Group has helped American, Canadian and Japanese companies manufacture popular products, such as Blackberry, Ipad, Ipod, Kindle, Nintendo, Playstation, Xbox and Google Pixel.
Volkswagen is the fifth largest company in the world by number of employees. It employs over 670, 000 people all over the world.
Founded in 1937 by the German Labor Front, Volkswagen is a German car manufacturer with headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Some of the popular cars manufactured by Volkswagen include the iconic Beetle, Golf and Passat.
Largest companies in the world by brand value
Brand value, popularly known as brand equity, refers to financial value of a firm that is not related to physical assets.
Brand value comes from goodwill and loyalty a company enjoys with customers.
Companies that have high brand value are perceived to produce goods and services of high quality by customers.
Brand value can be measured by how attached customers are to a particular brand.
Some of the most valuable brands in the world includes: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Coca-cola, Disney, Samsung and Louis Vuitton.
How companies build brand value?
Companies build high brand value by creating great products and having excellent customer service.
For example, Apple has high brand because customers know that every Apple product is top notch. Businesses hire Mckinsey to help them solve problems because Mckinsey has some of the best consultants in the world.
Top 5 largest companies in the world by brand value
Google is the second-largest company by brand value. It is currently valued at over $207 billion.
Founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google tells anyone who cares to listen, “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
And this they’ve done since 1998!
With over 2.5 billion active users, Facebook remains the largest social network website in the world, and the fifth largest company in the world by brand value.
Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and his roommates at Harvard, Facebook has grown into the largest social media and social networking site by focusing on a clear mission: “building technologies that help people connect with friends and family, find communities, and grow businesses.”