Whatever device you’re reading this on, chances are that several of the biggest tech companies in the world were involved – including a couple you may have never heard of. Technology has become ingrained in every corner of our lives and the economy.

Over the past five years, technology stocks have far outperformed the S&P 500 on the stock market, and the sector is predicted to be worth over $9 trillion in 2024. This article from Business2Community brings you a rundown of the top companies in the sector and how they got to this point.

The World’s Biggest Tech Companies

The world’s 10 biggest tech companies have a combined market capitalization of over $15 trillion, and 8 of them are headquartered in the US.

Let’s take a look at who these companies are, what they do, and what the future holds for them.

tech stocks performance 2019-2024

1. Microsoft Corporation – $3.08 Trillion

With a market cap of over $3 trillion, Microsoft ranks as the most valuable company in the world, not just the largest technology company. In 2023, Microsoft achieved a record-high revenue of $211 billion.

Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen were childhood friends who began programming in their school computer lab in their early teens. The name Microsoft is a portmanteau of ‘microcomputer’ and ‘software’.

tech company microsoft founders bill gates and paul allen

Microsoft went public in 1986 with an initial share price of $21. By the end of its first day of trading, over 2.5 million shares had been sold and their price had increased by almost 70% to $35.50.

During the IPO, Bill Gates retained a 45% share in Microsoft. He stepped down from his board positions in 2020 to focus on philanthropic work, so his shareholding is no longer reported. However, the company’s ownership disclosure in 2019 showed that Gates held over 102 million Microsoft shares (1.34% of common stock) which was worth around $15.5 billion at the time.

The company found success in the operating systems market in the 1980s, first with MS-DOS and then with Windows. Since then, it has broadened its reach into sectors like gaming, with the Xbox system, and SaaS, with its cloud computing software, Azure.

Microsoft expands to other sectors with Activision Blizzard acquisition

Microsoft has acquired several other large software companies including:

  • Video calling platform Skype for $8.5 billion in May 2011
  • Professional networking site LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in December 2016
  • Video game publisher Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in December 2023

Microsoft is diving headfirst into AI, attempting to pioneer the technology so that it can continue to lead the tech market. Its cloud and SaaS business is absolutely booming as companies around the world fight to stay relevant in the AI era. It also invested directly in OpenAI, the world’s leading artificial intelligence company and creator of ChatGPT. After an initial investment of $1 billion in 2019, Microsoft’s cumulative investment has reportedly grown to $13 billion.

On January 24, 2024, Microsoft’s market cap exceeded $3 trillion for the first time, undoubtedly buoyed by its partnership with OpenAI.

Microsoft market cap

Company Name Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)
Founded 1975
Headquarters Washington, USA
Market Capitalization $3.08 trillion
Type of Tech Software and services

2. Apple Inc. – $2.59 Trillion

Apple Computer Company was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. It became Apple Computer, Inc. in 1977 after Wayne left the company, and rebranded to Apple Inc in 2007 to signal its move away from computers into the broader consumer electronics market.

For much of 2012-2023, Apple held the title of the world’s most valuable company by market cap. It was the first tech company to exceed a market cap of $2 trillion, in August 2020, and $3 trillion, in January 2022.

The company reached a record-high market capitalization of $3.081 trillion in December 2023, but this had fallen by almost half a trillion dollars to $2.59 by April 2024.

Apple market cap history

In 2023, Apple reported revenue of $383 billion, down 3% or $11 billion from 2022, and net income of $97 billion, down $3 billion from 2022.

The company’s revenue sources for 2023 were as follows:

  • iPhone: $201 billion (52.3%)
  • Services: $85 billion (22.2%)
  • Wearables, home, and accessories: $40 billion (10.4%)
  • Mac: $29 billion (7.7%)
  • iPad: $28 billion (7.4%)

Apple’s services revenue includes its App Store earnings (with its massive 30% cut on in-app purchases), digital content (like on Apple Plus), cloud storage, AppleCare, advertising, and payment services. Yet, it’s the iconic iPhone that still makes up over half the company’s revenue.

Apple has long trailed Samsung in terms of the sheer volume of smartphone sales, according to IDC‘s tracker that measures market share by unit sales. However, Apple claimed the top spot for the first time in 2023 Q4 before falling back into second place the following quarter.

IDC Apple smartphone market share

However, Apple has strong brand loyalty and was named Kantar‘s most valuable global brand for 2023, with a brand value of $880 billion. It also took the top spot in 2022 with a value of $947 billion.

Kantar most valuable global brands

In fact, US tech giants take the top 4 spots on this list, with Chinese tech brand Tencent coming in 7th place.

Company Name Apple Inc. (AAPL)
Founded 1976
Headquarters California, USA
Market Capitalization $2.62 trillion
Type of Tech Consumer electronics and software

3. Nvidia Corp. – $2.19 Trillion

Nvidia is one of the tech companies on this list that isn’t totally a household name (yet), even though hundreds of millions of people own devices and use services powered by its graphics processing units (GPUs) and other kinds of semiconductor chips.

Nvidia isn’t as well known as Apple or Microsoft in many households, despite its astounding size, because only a small part of its business is consumer-facing. It has long sold GPUs to gamers as it has produced the best hardware for years (until recently) but it has recently turned into an almost entirely business-facing firm. It is powering the AI revolution with its cutting-edge AI hardware almost singlehandedly because it is absolutely vital for training any kind of large language model (LLM) at a reasonable pace.

NVIDIA HQ

Nvidia reported $27 billion of revenue in 2023; the same as in 2022. Operating profit was $4.2 billion in 2023, down 58% year-on-year. The company attributed this drop in profit to economic headwinds, geopolitical tensions, and fluctuations in the product supply chain.

Despite this, Nvidia has been regarded by investors as one of the best tech stocks in recent months. On February 22, 2024, the technology stocks surged by 16%, adding $277 billion in market capitalization in one day. This beat the record of $197 billion set by Meta just a few weeks prior.

Nvidia’s products and platforms serve 4 key segments of the technology sector, the most profitable of which is data centers. This segment delivered $15 billion in revenue in 2023, up 41% from 2022. These data centers are using Nvidia’s futuristic hardware to train and perfect their AI models. Because no one else can make anywhere near the same quality of AI hardware, Nvidia can essentially pick whatever price it wants to charge and companies prioritizing generative AI have no choice but to acquiesce.

Nvidia tech sector revenue 2023

Nvidia is investing in several emerging technologies, including AI chips, deep learning, quantum computing, and autonomous driving. The company is also pioneering sustainable computing initiatives to reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency in data centers, which currently use an estimated 200 trillion watt-hours of electricity per year, around 2% of global energy consumption.

Company Name Nvidia Corp. (NVDA)
Founded 1993
Headquarters California, USA
Market Capitalization $2.19 trillion
Type of Tech GPUs and semiconductor chips

4. Alphabet Inc. – $1.93 Trillion

Alphabet Inc. is the parent company of Google, YouTube and various other subsidiaries. It was created in 2015 through the restructuring of Google, which itself was founded in 1998 and became publicly traded in 2004.

Google is best known for its search engine, which has long dominated the global market with a 90%+ market share.

Google search market share

Alphabet reported annual revenue of $307 billion in 2023, up 9% from $283 billion in 2022, driven by increases of 8% from Google Services and 26% from Google Cloud. Net income was $74 billion in 2023, up from $60 billion in 2022.

The vast majority (99.5%) of the company’s revenue comes from Google, and most of this is advertising revenue from its search engine. The breakdown for 2023 was as follows:

  • Google Services: $273 billion
    • Google Advertising: $238 billion
      • Google Search & other: $175 billion
      • YouTube ads: $32 billion
      • Google Network: $31 billion
    • Google subscriptions, platforms, and devices: $35 billion
  • Google Cloud: $33 billion
  • Other Bets: $1.5 billion

“Other Bets” are Alphabet’s other businesses in various stages of research, development, and commercialization. These include Waymo (autonomous vehicles), Intrinsic (robotics software), and Calico (health and life sciences). Although some of these companies are profitable, they reported a combined net loss of $4 billion in 2023.

Waymo cars from Alphabet

47% of Alphabet’s revenue comes from the US, with 30% from EMEA, 17% from APAC, and 6% from Other Americas.

Company Name Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)
Founded 2015 (Google in 1998)
Headquarters California, USA
Market Capitalization $1.93 trillion
Type of Tech Software and services

5. Amazon.com, Inc. – $1.91 Trillion

Amazon was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, a former investment banker who started out running the ecommerce company from the garage of his rented home in Bellvue, Washington. It started out as an online bookstore but it quickly evolved into a massive ecommerce marketplace. His parents invested $245 million in the operation the following year. It may have been one of the most successful investments of all time, delivering an estimated 12,000,000% return according to some analysts.

Forbes ranked Bezos as the second richest tech billionaire in 2023, behind Elon Musk, but took the top spot in March 2024.

After initially operating as an online bookstore, Amazon expanded to offer music, books, video games, home electronics, and more. Today, it’s the go-to marketplace for 310 million users worldwide, and over 60% of the US population have an Amazon Prime subscription.

Amazon Prime users

Although traditionally classed as a retail company, Amazon has been increasingly branching out into the tech sector.

It’s now one of the top SaaS companies in the world, with $90.8 billion (15.8%) of its 2023 revenue coming from its cloud computing subsidiary AWS. Like Microsoft, Amazon is raking in cash from the rise in demand for cloud, SaaS, AI, and similar services.

Amazon is also investing significantly in warehouse robotics through its $1 billion Industrial Innovation Fund. It is already trialing a humanoid robot, Digit, developed by Agility Robotics to perform tasks within a warehouse.

These robots cost $250,000 each, and Amazon is coming under criticism for investing in this technology rather than simply improving working conditions and safety for its employees.

Company Name Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)
Founded 1994
Headquarters Washington, USA
Market Capitalization $1.91 trillion
Type of Tech Software

6. Meta Platforms Inc. – $1.27 Trillion

Meta is the youngest of the 10 biggest tech companies, founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and four of his fellow Harvard University students. TheFacebook originally served as a student directory but became available to the public in 2006 having dropped ‘The’ from its name the previous year – Silicon Valley has it that it was early investor and advisor Sean Parker who made the recommendation.

Mark Zuckerberg

When Facebook went public in 2012, it priced individual stocks at $38 and raised a total of $16 billion, the largest amount ever raised by a tech company in its first day of trading. Its valuation of $104 billion was the largest ever for a publicly traded company.

Facebook’s stocks struggled in the months after its IPO, but eventually stabilized and started to gain value.

The company had purchased Instagram for $1 billion just before its IPO, and in 2014 it went on to acquire messaging platform WhatsApp for around $16 billion and VR gaming technology company Oculus for $2 billion.

Facebook has come under a great deal of scrutiny over the years, especially for its data collection practices and the way it polices content distributed on the platform.

In 2021, the company announced that it was rebranding to Meta to reflect its shift of focus towards building the metaverse. 2022 was a difficult year amid global economic uncertainty and advertising cuts, but 2023 brought a strong recovery, and on April 5, 2024, share prices hit an all-time high of $530.

Meta Facebook market cap

Company Name Meta Platforms Inc. (META)
Founded 2004 (as Facebook, Inc.)
Headquarters California, USA
Market Capitalization $1.27 trillion
Type of Tech Software

7. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. – $725 Billion

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. may be the 7th company on this list but it’s undoubtedly one of the most important companies globally. It is Taiwan’s largest company (one of two non-US companies on this list) and the largest dedicated manufacturer of semiconductor chips in the world.

The business was listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in 1993 and became the first Taiwanese company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1997.

As a foundry company, TSMC manufactures chips that are designed by other tech companies or used in electronic devices. It held a 55% market share as of 2022, according to IDC data, and its customers include Apple, Nvidia, AMD, and Broadcom.

TSMC sells foundry time often years in advance because the demand for its services is so incredibly high. This fact actually helps Nvidia in particular, which is one of a handful of companies that have already booked their slots. TSMC is the only company in the world that can manufacture Nvidia’s AI hardware (or anything of the same quality) at scale. Because it’s booked out for so long, no one will likely be able to compete with Nvidia’s hardware for years and years.

TSM foundry market share

TSMC reported consolidated revenue of $69.3 billion in 2023 with $26.88 net income; a year-on-year decrease of 8.7% and 21.1%, respectively. Operating profit margin fell from 49.5% in 2022 to 42.6% in 2023.

The firm manufactured 11,895 different products in the year for 528 customers and accounted for 28% of the world’s semiconductor production. It also opened its first zero-waste manufacturing center and has committed to 100% renewable energy usage by 2040.

TSMC seems confident in its future growth, knowing that its products are foundational in AI technology. Its share price reached a record high of $151.60 on March 7, 2024.

Company Name Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSM)
Founded 1987
Headquarters Hsinchu City, Taiwan
Market Capitalization $725 billion
Type of Tech Semiconductor chips

8. Broadcom Inc. – $616 Billion

Semiconductor company Broadcom has been through a complicated history of mergers, spinoffs, and acquisitions to bring it to its current form. HP Associates, the company that would later become Broadcom Inc., was founded in 1961 as the semiconductor division of Hewlett-Packard. It later spun off as Agilent Technologies and then Avago Technologies.

In 1991, Broadcom Corporation was founded. Its focus in the early days was to address the need for faster internet speeds, both wired and wireless.

Broadcom information technology

Avago Technologies acquired Broadcom Corporation in 2016 and formed Broadcom Limited, which was later renamed to Broadcom Inc.

In recent years, the company has been subject to blocked acquisitions, anticompetitive orders, and patent disputes. Still, it has emerged as a global technology leader with a market cap exceeding $500 billion for the first time in January 2024.

The firm estimates that over 99% of internet traffic passes through at least one Broadcom chip.

Its $69 billion acquisition of VMWare was one of the biggest tech acquisitions in history, equalling Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard and giving Broadcom a stronghold in the virtualization and cloud services industries.

Company Name Broadcom Inc. (AVGO)
Founded 1961
Headquarters California, USA
Market Capitalization $616 billion
Type of Tech Semiconductors

9. Tesla, Inc. – $500 Billion

Although the Global Industry Classification Standard (GCIS) places Tesla in the Automobiles & Components sector, its infamous approach to technological innovation earns it a place on this list of the 10 largest tech companies.

In fact, co-founder Martin Eberhard said that he wanted to build “a car manufacturer that is also a technology company”, and saw technology as the key to designing an electric car that was better than its competition. Elon Musk invested $6.5 million in Tesla in 2004, making him the company’s largest individual shareholder. By 2008, both of the founders had left the company and Musk was made CEO, a position that he still holds today.

Tesla’s IPO in 2010 raised $226 million, with individual stocks priced at $17. They peaked at $414.50 on November 4, 2021, and have since fallen to below $150.

Tesla share prices

Tesla’s market cap exceeded $1.2 trillion in January 2022 but has been on a downward trajectory since then, partly affected by declining vehicle deliveries which Tesla has blamed on production setbacks. The embarrassing failure of Tesla’s Cybertruck, which was fully recalled in April 2024 over safety concerns, has only added to the problems.

The company is also facing increasing competition from Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers. While Tesla remains dominant in the American market, Chinese firm BYD has the top spot in the global market.

Tesla EV market share

In addition to its electric vehicles and driverless technology, Tesla is developing energy generation and storage technology, including solar systems. This segment accounted for just over $6 billion in 2023, representing 6.2% of the company’s $96.8 billion total revenue.

Company Name Tesla, Inc. (TSLA)
Founded 2003
Headquarters Texas, USA
Market Capitalization $500 billion
Type of Tech Electric power and storage, autonomous driving

10. ASML Holding NV – $385 Billion

The Dutch company ASML (short for Advanced Semiconductor Materials Lithography) is the most valuable tech company in Europe and is among the most important companies in the world.

ASML develops and manufactures the photolithography machines used to produce computer chips. It supplies some of the world’s largest technology companies including TSMC, Samsung, and Intel. Without ASML, TSMC would not be able to manufacture much of the world’s semiconductor chips as no other lithography machine manufacturer has even come close to matching ASML’s products.

ASML DUV machine

Its deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines are used for the high-volume production of standard chips, while extreme ultraviolet (EUV) devices are used for the most advanced chips. ASML is currently the only company in the world that makes EUV machines which are essential for some of the most advanced semiconductor chips used in high-end B2B hardware.

ASML reported revenue of €27.6 billion ($29.4 billion) in 2023, with a gross profit of €14.1 billion ($15 billion). These amounts were up 30% and 32%, respectively, from 2022.

The company’s sales may be hampered in the future due to restrictions placed on it by the US government in late 2023. These regulations prevent ASML from exporting certain types of machinery to China in an attempt to limit China’s chip manufacturing capabilities.

Company Name ASML Holding NV (ASML)
Founded 1984
Headquarters Veldhoven, Netherlands
Market Capitalization $385 billion
Type of Tech Photolithography machines

Learning From the Biggest Tech Companies in the World

Seven out of these 10 biggest tech companies also rank in the 10 largest companies in the world. The other 3 are Saudi Aramco (oil and gas), Berkshire Hathaway (diversified holding company), and Eli Lilly (pharmaceuticals).

So it’s clear that it’s a good time to be in the tech sector, whether you’re producing semiconductor chips, building the machines that produce the chips, or creating software that runs on them.

Artificial intelligence has had a big part to play in the growth of some technology stocks and will no doubt continue to influence the sector well into the future, delivering big profits to those who invest at the right time.

FAQs

What are the big 5 tech companies?

Who is the richest tech company?

Who are the richest tech owners?