In this, our 161st newsletter, we present our annual update to our animated chart of the largest companies, now extended to include results for 2022.
The picture above shows the leading companies when Fortune first did a list of all US companies for 1994 (previously they focused on manufacturing companies), last year, and half-way through the 28 years, at 2008. Here are the animated charts to more clearly see the company names for the largest 25 and 50, based on revenues. In future newsletters and posts we will provide similar charts for profits, market capitalization, and the largest employers.
You can pause them and move them to any year to see the lists of the top 25 and top 50 (which is a tall chart and requires some scrolling). We find studying them over and over very worthwhile in understanding economic change in America. Watch a chart looking at a color, like turquoise for health or dark blue for tech companies, to see their rise. Or track an individual company from year to year, witnessing the rise of Enron followed by its rapid descent, or the late entry of Amazon and the company’s remarkable rise. In 2022, Tesla edged into the bottom of the top 50.
If you look at these screenshots, you can see the change in our industrial structure. Each industry has a different color. In 1994, the two orange bars are the top are Ford and GM, still on the list today but much lower. By 2008, the dark green of the energy industry took the top spot with ExxonMobil #1, but with purple retailer Walmart right behind it. In 2022, Walmart finished its eleventh year in a row as the world’s largest company, registering over $600 billion in annual sales, a level never before reached by any company. The big change, though, is the rise of the health industry, shown in turquoise. United Health is 5th and CVS Health, the largest company ever headed by a woman, is 6th biggest.
Here are larger versions of screenshots from our animated chart, broken down into four seven-year intervals.
Please send us any comments or thoughts on all this data by replying to this email.
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American Business History Center