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Though overall profits have started to decline, revenue growth—and the promise of artificial intelligence—are boosting tech companies’ market value.
Despite lingering economic headwinds, higher interest rates threatening profits and widespread layoffs across the industry, technology companies have been largely resilient over the past year—continuing to post record sales and recouping vast stock losses as artificial intelligence promises to reinvigorate the battered sector.
The number of technology companies landing on the Global 2000, Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s largest companies (based on revenue, profits, assets and stock market value), ticked up to 169 this year from 164 in 2022. That’s still fewer than the record 177 spots they nabbed in 2021, thanks to their relative outperformance during the pandemic. But the tech companies on our list nevertheless posted a record $4.2 trillion in combined annual revenue over the last 12 months, up from about $4 trillion the year before and $3.3 trillion two years before.
Amid the economic uncertainty, however, new leadership has emerged. Breaking Apple’s seven-year reign atop the tech rankings, Alphabet emerges as the world’s largest technology company after rising four spots to No. 7 in the global list. The Google parent’s stock is still about 15% below peak levels in 2021, but its unshakeable search division (still its largest revenue-driver by far) and momentum in cloud services helped last year’s tech runner up post record sales of $282.8 billion.
Next up, Microsoft lands at the No. 2 spot for tech after a three-spot ascent in the global rankings to No. 9 overall. Shares of the storied tech giant have surged 40% this year and are just 2% away from record levels thanks in no small part to buzz around AI. Analysts have lauded the firm’s $13 billion investment in chatbot creator OpenAI this year as a watershed moment in the global AI arms race, and CEO Satya Nadella has asserted the technology will “change every software category, starting with the largest of all—search.”
As for last year’s leader, Apple now comes in as the world’s third-largest technology firm. Though it remained the most valuable company in the world with a market capitalization of more than $2.6 trillion, the iPhone maker slipped three spots to land at No. 10 in the overall rankings while competitors gained an edge on sales and assets. With more consumers cutting back on big-ticket spending, the firm posted its second-consecutive quarter of revenue declines last month. That took it down one peg in the overall sales rankings, but doesn’t explain most of Apple’s slippage on the list. Rather, its assets have fallen about 13% to $332 billion (moving its ranking for assets down from 107 to 127) as the firm offloaded some of its receivables—a common move as companies cut risky balance sheet items and gear up for potential recession.
Rounding out the top five, Samsung Electronics is steady at No. 14 globally, and Meta Platforms climbs one spot after its stock surged 20% over the past year. Shares are still down 27% from a 2021 peak, but they’ve more than doubled this year, as the firm broke a three-quarter-long run of sales declines with an April earnings report. The Facebook parent replaces Tencent, which falls to the sixth tech spot after a year of lingering Covid lockdowns that marred the Chinese tech sector. Shares of the conglomerate are roughly flat over the past year as sales slipped about 5% to $82.4 billion.
Elsewhere on the list, ongoing tech weakness is far more evident: Overall profits cratered by 16% to $553.9 billion, and there were no high-profile initial public offerings making for buzzy debuts. Longtime stalwarts IBM and Intel are out of the top 10 after plunging in the overall global rankings, by 77 and 371 spots, respectively. Cratering PC sales fueled Intel’s worst quarterly loss in history this year, while IBM narrowly avoided its first revenue decline in two years. They’re replaced by Sony and Cisco, which similarly suffered before last year’s list, but has been on the mend ever since.
In total, 72 of the world’s largest tech companies are based in the United States, flat from last year after falling from 81 in 2021, but still far more than any other country. China, Taiwan and Japan also remained tech hotspots, claiming home base for 25, 15 and 12 companies on the list, respectively. China was the only country adding spots on the list compared to last year, when it had 21.
Altogether, the technology companies on Forbes’ Global 2000 come from 25 different nations and employ more than 8.2 million people. They represent a staggering $15.8 trillion in market value—up from $15.6 trillion last year and equal to roughly 15% of the global stock market. Assets also swelled, climbing nearly 10% to $6.4 trillion from $5.9 trillion last year.