The software industry is the backbone of our digital world, full of applications, platforms, and systems that power our daily lives. From operating systems and productivity tools to entertainment and communication apps, software enables innovation and drives technological advancements. The biggest software companies are at the forefront of this revolution, continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible with their groundbreaking products and services.

By analyzing key software developments and the distinguishing features of these software companies, the experts at Business2Community have curated a list of the top software companies by market cap, offering deeper insights into their role in shaping our digital landscape and propelling global innovation forward.

Top 10 Software Companies

The software industry is a dynamic landscape, with leading companies driving innovation and shaping our digital future. Here are some key insights from the biggest players in the field:

  1. Microsoft: With a market cap of $3.16 trillion, Microsoft leads the pack with its revolutionary products like Azure and Office 365. Strategic acquisitions like GitHub bolster its developer-centric approach, while Xbox and Teams showcase its diverse software offerings.
  2. Apple: Valued at $2.61 trillion, Apple’s software ecosystem complements its iconic hardware, with macOS, iOS, and Apple Music setting industry standards. Recent innovations like visionOS for Apple Vision Pro highlight its commitment to cutting-edge software solutions.
  3. Alphabet (Google): With a market cap of $1.90 trillion, Google’s software portfolio, including Search, Maps, and YouTube, dominates the digital landscape. Strategic acquisitions and innovations like Gemini AI underscore its focus on revolutionizing online experiences.
  4. Oracle: Valued at $343.28 billion, Oracle’s database management systems and enterprise solutions drive business efficiency. Cloud computing initiatives and autonomous databases position it as a leader in software innovation.
  5. Salesforce: With a market cap of $292.85 billion, Salesforce leads in CRM solutions, with Einstein AI and Slack integration enhancing productivity. Strategic acquisitions and AI-driven innovations underscore its commitment to driving business transformation.
  6. Adobe: Valued at $220.66 billion, Adobe’s digital media and marketing solutions empower creatives and businesses worldwide. AI integration and subscription-based models ensure continued growth and innovation.
  7. SAP: With a market cap of $219.31 billion, SAP’s ERP solutions and cloud offerings streamline global business processes. Investments in AI and the Intelligent Enterprise highlight its commitment to driving digital transformation.
  8. Intuit: Valued at $180.33 billion, Intuit’s financial management software simplifies personal and business finances. Strategic acquisitions and AI-powered solutions ensure continued relevance and growth.
  9. IBM: With a market cap of $173.39 billion, IBM’s cloud computing and AI solutions drive digital transformation. Focus on hybrid cloud and data analytics ensures its position as a leader in enterprise software.
  10. ServiceNow: Valued at $160.61 billion, ServiceNow’s digital workflows optimize enterprise operations. AI-driven innovations like Now Assist enhance productivity and efficiency.

Learning from Software Giants

From Microsoft’s diverse offerings to Salesforce’s CRM dominance, each company offers valuable lessons in innovation and adaptability.

Emerging technologies like AI and strategic acquisitions are key strategies for staying ahead in the competitive software landscape. Businesses can navigate digital transformation and drive future growth by learning from these industry leaders.

The World’s 10 Largest Software Companies

By the end of 2024, the software industry is projected to have total revenues of over $698 billion globally, with enterprise software making the biggest slice with over $292 billion coming in.

global software revenues

The leading software companies combine to give a total market cap of $11.9 trillion – being such a dominant force in the industry, let’s explore how they have driven key software developments and the global tech market. 

1. Microsoft – $3.16 Trillion

Microsoft has emerged as the foremost software company, with a market capitalization of $3.16 trillion, complementing its leading position in artificial intelligence and overall market value.

Established in 1975, Microsoft revolutionized computing with software like MS-DOS and Windows. Today, its cloud platform, Azure, which launched in 2008, drives its market worth, with Server products and cloud services revenue increasing by $12.6 billion in 2023.

As a leading cloud-based software globally, Azure excels in delivering software-as-a-service (SaaS), notably Office 365. In 2023, Microsoft’s Azure ranked as the world’s top cloud vendor by total revenue, generating $28.5 billion.

Furthermore, strategic acquisitions like its purchase of GitHub, acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion in 2018, underline its developer-centric approach. GitHub is a leading software development platform that facilitates collaboration among developers, streamlines version control, and enhances code quality.

Microsoft’s software prowess further extends to its Xbox offerings. Launched alongside the original Xbox console in 2001, the Xbox system software has evolved through four generations, with its core component based on Windows 2000 code.

In Q4 2023, Teams was Microsoft’s most downloaded software product, with 27.31 million global downloads. Microsoft’s influence and impact on the enterprise software development landscape remain unmatched, further cementing its status as a powerhouse in technology.

Company Microsoft
Founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen
Date 1975
CEO Satya Nadella
Headquarters Redmond, Seattle, US
Company Size  221,000

2. Apple – $2.61 Trillion

Ranked second biggest software company by market cap and valued at $2.61 trillion, Apple’s journey from the garage-born Apple I in 1976 to its current sophisticated ecosystem of innovative solutions has transformed the digital world.

While hardware has traditionally been the mainstay of Apple’s business, its software landscape is integral to the overall user experience and contributes significantly to its success.

In 2023, Apple’s services segment generated over $78 billion. Driven by software, these Apple services underpin functionality, development, and maintenance, ensuring optimal user experiences.

Apple’s tight hardware-software integration distinguishes its products in the market, with a software portfolio spanning operating systems, applications, SaaS offerings, and development tools.

The debut of Mac OS X in 2000 marked a revolutionary leap in operating systems. Apple has since launched 20 iterations of macOS, the latest in September 2023. iTunes was originally conceived to work with the iPod, launched in 2001, and was the precursor to Apple Music – a streaming platform with over 100 million songs.

Steve Jobs’ 2007 introduction of the iPhone, blending an iPod, phone, and internet communicator, transformed the mobile industry. With its pioneering iOS platform and diverse apps, the iPhone redefined mobile interaction.

Apple ventured into SaaS with iCloud in October 2011, later expanding to include Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, and more. These innovative software offerings diversify revenue streams and form integral parts of Apple’s product ecosystem.

In February 2024, Apple launched visionOS for Apple Vision Pro, introducing the era of spatial computing with its first 3D camera. This move underscores Apple’s commitment to innovative software solutions alongside inventive hardware.

 

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Company Apple
Founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ronald Wayne
Date 1976
CEO Tim Cook
Headquarters Cupertino, California, US
Company Size 161,000

3. Alphabet (Google) $1.90 Trillion

With a total market capitalization of $1.90 trillion, Alphabet is driven by its relentless innovation and iconic digital products under the Google brand.

Google’s search engine, was launched in 1998, almost immediately revolutionizing online search. It was followed 10 years later by the Google Chrome browser and the mobile operating system Android. By Q4 2023, it had a 70.1% global market share. revolutionized online search and quickly became the cornerstone of the internet.

Google Maps, launched in 2005, reforming digital mapping and navigation. Its popularity is evident from the 21 billion downloads in 2023, making it the go-to choice for navigation among users in the US.

In 2006, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion. It enhanced the company’s software infrastructure and integrated Google’s ad tech and data analytics expertise, resulting in improved performance and user engagement.

2016 saw Google launch Google Assistant, a machine learning and natural language processing-driven conversational virtual assistant, revolutionizing smart home control. Introduced in 2023, Gemini AI represents Google’s effort to democratize AI by integrating diverse types of information.

Alphabet’s financial success in 2023, with total revenue exceeding $306 billion, was driven by Google services like ads, Android, Chrome, and YouTube, contributing over $76 billion in Q4 alone. Furthermore, the cloud computing segment, including Google Cloud Platform services and Google Workspace tools, generated over $9 billion, reinforcing Alphabet’s dominance in the software industry.

Company Alphabet
Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Date 1998
CEO Sundar Pichai
Headquarters Mountain View, California, US
Company Size 182,502

4. Oracle – $343.28 Billion

Established in 1977 as a leading data management company in the software industry, Oracle quickly gained prominence and is now valued at $343.28 billion. Its database management systems, like Oracle Database introduced in 1979, marked the onset of its dominance in the field.

In subsequent years, Oracle introduced enterprise software solutions within various industries. Oracle E-Business Suite, launched in 2001, revolutionized enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and solidified Oracle’s position as a leader in business software solutions.

Moreover, Oracle’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010 enhanced its software offerings by providing access to critical technologies like Java and Solaris operating systems.

Oracle began transitioning its database offerings to the cloud in 2013, and by 2016, it expanded its focus on cloud computing with the introduction of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

2018 saw the software company launch its first autonomous database, integrating machine learning and automation. This groundbreaking system aimed to enhance reliability, security, and performance while reducing operational costs by eliminating routine tasks handled by database administrators.

In 2023, Oracle hit its highest annual revenue at $50 billion, led by its most profitable segments – cloud services and license support – which generated over $35 billion combined.

The data management software company’s offerings reflect Oracle’s commitment to staying at the forefront of software development, ensuring its relevance and leadership.

Company Oracle
Founders Larry Ellison, Bob Miner, Ed Oates
Date 1997
CEO Safra Ada Catz
Headquarters Austin, Texas, US
Company Size 164,000

5. Salesforce – $292.85 Billon

Renowned for its cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform, Salesforce has a market capitalization of $292.85 billion at the time of writing. It has become a leader in the CRM and software industries, offering innovative solutions for sales, marketing, and customer service.

Introduced in 1999, Salesforce CRM changed how businesses manage customer relationships by providing a cloud-based platform accessible from anywhere.

In 2005, Salesforce introduced the Salesforce AppExchange. The AppExchange ecosystem has developed into a vibrant marketplace with 7,000 apps from independent software engineers and over 10 million installs.

Salesforce has strategically acquired numerous tech companies to expand its digital products and services. In 2013, Salesforce acquired ExactTarget to enhance its Marketing Cloud. Then in 2018, the company strengthened its integration capabilities by acquiring MuleSoft, and in 2019, it merged with the analytics platform Tableau.

Moreover, Salesforce’s $27.7 billion acquisition of Slack in 2021 expanded its offerings into workplace communication and collaboration, reinforcing its position as a leading provider of enterprise software.

You can get the full story of the growth and development of Salesforce, here

In 2016, Salesforce launched Einstein AI, integrated into its CRM for predictive analytics, personalized recommendations, and automation. By 2023, Einstein was generating over 1 trillion AI-powered predictions weekly.

Salesforce Einstein AI

The same year, Salesforce launched Einstein GPT, the first generative AI for a CRM, streamlining app development and automation. They also revealed the Einstein 1 Platform and Einstein Copilot, a conversational AI assistant for CRM apps.

 Salesforce reached $31.4 billion in revenue in 2023, projecting $34.7 billion for 2024, with subscriptions and support totaling $8.384 billion. The company’s innovative software solutions position it as a leader in the industry, showcasing its commitment to pioneering advancements and shaping the future of technology.

Company Oracle
Founders Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Frank Dominguez, Dave Moellenhoff
Date 1999
CEO Marc Benioff
Headquarters San Francisco, California, US
Company Size 70,000+

6. Adobe – $220.66 Billion

Adobe, with a market capitalization of $220.66 billion, is a leading software company known for its digital media and marketing solutions. It expanded from printing software to graphic design with Adobe Illustrator in 1987 and pioneered photo editing with Adobe Photoshop in 1990.

In 2012, Adobe introduced the Creative Cloud subscription service, packaging a range of popular Adobe tools and having customers pay for continuing access as well as storage.

AI technology has been integrated into Adobe products to enhance content understanding, recommendations, search, prediction, editing, and more since the debut of its AI framework Sensei in 2016.

Adobe introduced Firefly in 2023, its first generative creative AI model. It has generated over 6.5 billion images in one year, showcasing Adobe’s commitment to AI-driven innovation.

Adobe achieved record revenue of $19.41 billion in 2023, driven by its digital media segment at $14.22 billion, and creative revenue reaching $11.52 billion. Adobe’s financial success underscores its impactful software solutions, empowering creatives and businesses worldwide to innovate and thrive in the digital age.

Company Adobe
Founders John Warnock, Charles Geschke
Date 1982
CEO Shantanu Narayen
Headquarters San Francisco, California, US
Company Size 30,000

7. SAP – $219.31 Billion

SAP, a premier software company renowned for its ERP solutions, has a market capitalization of $219.31.89 billion in April 2024, reflecting its ongoing evolution to meet global business processes and needs. The integration of real-time data processing and standardization has fueled SAP’s revenue growth from a small German company in the 1970s to a global leader in business software.

In 2012, SAP entered the cloud computing market with SAP HANA Cloud, a pioneering in-memory platform for developing and managing cloud-based applications. By 2013, the entire Business Suite had transitioned to SAP HANA, propelling SAP to be the fastest-growing enterprise cloud company by 2014.

Then in 2018, the tech company unveiled its vision for the Intelligent Enterprise, focusing on tech integration like SAP Cloud Platform for decision-making. As of 2024, this platform is the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP).

By 2021, RISE with SAP was launched on a subscription basis to automate business processes, further augmented by SAP’s introduction of AI-powered innovations in 2022 to optimize end-to-end business processes.

RISE with SAP HANA

For seamless access to vital business data across various cloud infrastructures and hybrid environments, SAP introduced SAP Datasphere in 2023 on the SAP BTP. In addition, the tech company unveiled Joule, a natural-language, generative AI copilot integrated across SAP’s cloud enterprise portfolio.

SAP experienced a revenue growth of 20% in 2023, totaling €31 billion ($33.38 billion). Software and cloud revenue accounted for €27 billion ($29.16 billion) of this total.

With 280 million cloud users and over 100 solutions covering all business functions, SAP operates 57 data centers across 32 locations in 15 countries, ranking it a world-class software company.

Company SAP
Founders Dietmar Hopp, Hasso Platter, Claus Wellenreuther, Klaus Tschira, and Hans-Werner Hector
Date 1972
CEO Christian Klein
Headquarters Walldorf, Germany
Company Size 105,000

8. Intuit – $180.33 Billion

Intuit is a financial management and accounting software. As of the time of writing, it has a market capitalization of $180.44 billion thanks to its ability to transform how individuals and businesses manage their finances.

The company’s flagship products, QuickBooks and TurboTax, have become household names, synonymous with simplicity, efficiency, and accuracy in financial management.

QuickBooks originally debuted in 1983, and its cloud-based version, QuickBooks Online, launched in 2001. Furthermore, in 1993, Intuit simplified tax filing for individuals with the introduction of TurboTax, a tax preparation software.

Intuit launched a generative AI-powered financial assistant for small businesses and consumers in 2023. Intuit Assist is integrated across Intuit’s suite of products, enhancing user experiences and streamlining financial management processes.

In 2023, Intuit’s revenue reached $14.4 billion, with TurboTax Online and Credit Karma contributing $11 billion. With over 45 software companies under its umbrella, Intuit’s major solutions serve 100+ million customers worldwide, including QuickBooks, TurboTax, Mailchimp, and Credit Karma.

Notable acquisitions like Mailchimp in September 2021 for $12 billion and Credit Karma in December 2020 for $7.1 billion have expanded Intuit’s portfolio, cementing its status as a top software powerhouse.

Company Intuit
Founders Scott Cook and Tom Proulx
Date 1983
CEO Sasan Goodarzi
Headquarters Mountain View, California, US
Company Size 105,000

9. IBM – $173.39 Billion

With a market capitalization of $173.39 billion, IBM specializes in software solutions, focusing on cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.

Some key developments in IBM’s software portfolio include the launch of IBM Watson in 2007, a pioneering artificial intelligence platform, and the introduction of IBM Cloud in 2013, providing a comprehensive suite of cloud computing services.

The mega tech company is also known for its enterprise software offerings, including IBM Cognos for business intelligence and IBM Maximo for enterprise asset management.

Learn more about the long history of IBM, here

In 2023, IBM saw over 5% growth in software revenues, thanks to its advanced capabilities in hybrid cloud, data & AI, automation, transaction processing, and security. Notably, Red Hat played a pivotal role in this growth, leading to a solid expansion in recurring revenue.

With $61.9 billion in total revenue, and IBM’s new WatsonX platform witnessing growing demand, IBM continues to innovate and stay relevant in the software market.

Company IBM (International Business Machines Corporation)
Founders Charles Flint
Date 1911
CEO Arvind Krishna
Headquarters Armonk, New York, US
Company Size 282,000

10. ServiceNow – $160.61 Billion

ServiceNow specializes in digital workflows for enterprises, enabling effective automation and streamlining of operations. Founded in 2004, it is the youngest tech company on the largest software companies list and had a market capitalization of $160.61 billion at the time of writing.

ServiceNow

In 2012, the company went public, introducing a comprehensive suite of cloud-based IT service management solutions to the software market. Four years later, in 2014, ServiceNow launched its ServiceNow Express edition, catering to SMEs with simplified IT service management capabilities.

The intelligent Now Platform debuted in 2020, residing in the cloud and serving as an integrated platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution utilizing AI technology for process automation.

In 2023, total revenue surged to $8.9 million, marking a 26% year-over-year increase. The growth can be attributed to ServiceNow unveiling its first generative AI assistant Now Assist in Q3 that year. Now Assist, which includes Virtual Agent, flow generation, and Now Assist for Field Service Management, offers embedded practical generative AI applications that are helping customers transform their work processes.

Company ServiceNow
Founders Fred Luddy
Date 2004
CEO Bill McDermott
Headquarters Santa Clara, California, US
Company Size 10,000

Learning From the Biggest Software Companies in the World

The largest software companies by market capitalization have evolved dramatically since their inception. Despite their diverse backgrounds, one commonality among these companies is the widespread integration of advanced AI into their software solutions. This emphasizes AI’s crucial role in the future of software development, ushering in an era of innovation and transformation across industries.

From these top software companies, we learn the importance of adaptability, innovation, and embracing emerging technologies like AI. Their success underscores the value of staying ahead of the curve, continuously evolving to meet changing market demands, and leveraging technology to drive growth.

What lies behind these companies is consistent innovation, such as Salesforce’s foresight in charging a monthly subscription service for software – which has been emulated by nearly all software companies.

Big tech companies like Google and Apple are still working to disrupt markets with their products, such as the Apple Vision Pro.

However, having a keen eye for others’ innovation and acquiring companies at the right time has also seen the consolidation of the biggest software companies – a lesson in knowing your competitive landscape and being able to strike a great deal, such as Intuit’s absorption of Mailchimp.

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