The Most Successful Company Founded Each Year Since 1944

Business / Tech
Posted on April 11, 2016 by Ben Taylor

About 50 percent of all businesses fail within five years. Only a quarter make it to the 15-year mark. Even then, the majority of survivors will be small operations, often based in a home.

So it is that companies like Anthem, VISA, Microsoft and Facebook are the extreme exceptions, businesses that not only beat the odds, but went on to become household names, creating thousands of jobs and redefining their industries.

At FindTheCompany, a data site that’s part of the Graphiq network, they went back to 1944 to find the most successful company founded the year you were born. In order to define success, they ranked more than 10,000 companies traded on U.S. exchanges by recent market capitalization (calculated in late March, 2016). A company’s market cap is essentially its total net worth: the number of shares outstanding multiplied by the share price.

Determining the exact founding year for some companies can be difficult, given the frequency of spinoffs, mergers and acquisitions. For this reason, we turned to Field-Ritter, which carefully tracks the history of every business with an IPO from 1975 through the present day. For example, Field-Ritter defaults to the oldest founding year among two merging companies, even if the name of the original company changes.

Most of today’s big companies — even those founded in the ’40s and ’50s — went public in this modern timeframe, but it’s worth mentioning that our dataset might miss a few businesses that IPO’d in the mid 20th century.

Every company on this list is a big success story. Each grew from nothing, maintained a strong market position and created an enduring brand that thrives to this day. We’ll start in the 1940s, then work our way up to 2015.


Anthem Inc.

Market Cap: $36,474,300,000
Ticker Symbol: ANTM

This Indiana-based insurance company’s origins began with Mutual Hospital Insurance and Mututal Medical Insurance, formed in the mid-1940s. Decades later, the company has expanded to become a major insurer across 14 states.


Hibbett Sports Inc.

Market Cap: $815,740,000
Ticker Symbol: HIBB

Hibbett Sports began as a modest shop in Birmingham, Alabama. Today, it operates in 32 states, most prominently in Alabama, Texas and Georgia as of 2015.


The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

Market Cap: $34,498,700,000
Ticker Symbol: EL

This familiar makeup, perfume and hair products brand is headquartered in Manhattan and splashed across department stores throughout America. The company owns dozens of cosmetic brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Clinique and Aveda.


Copa Holdings

Market Cap: $2,884,490,000
Ticker Symbol: CPA

This Latin American company began as the national airline of Panama. By 2014, the company had expanded its fleet to 98 airplanes.


Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.

Market Cap: $5,416,750,000
Ticker Symbol: DKS

Once a simple Pennsylvania sporting goods store, Dick’s Sporting Goods is now just about everywhere, operating in 47 states as of early 2016.


Grand Canyon Education Inc.

Market Cap: $1,945,900,000
Ticker Symbol: LOPE

Grand Canyon Education owns for-profit Grand Canyon University, a private Christian university founded in 1949. The parent company purchased the institution in 2004 and moved the school to a for-profit model.


Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc.

Market Cap: $4,246,020,000
Ticker Symbol: DNKN

The company started as a small donut restaurant named “Open Kettle,” but became Dunkin’ Donuts just two years later. Today, the popular donut shop brand also owns the ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins.


Barrett Business Services Inc.

Market Cap: $196,690,000
Ticker Symbol: BBSI

This agency finds employees to fill business needs, whether through temporary staffing, contracts or other sourcing.


Zoetis Inc.

Market Cap: $20,970,000,000
Ticker Symbol: ZTS

Zoetis is the largest provider of medicine and vaccines for pets and livestock.


Transocean Inc.

Market Cap: $3,398,760,000
Ticker Symbol: RIG

Started by Southern National Gas Corporation (later, Sonat) in 1952, the company began as an Alabama-based offshore drilling outfit. It was added to the S&P 500 in 2013.


William Lyon Homes Inc.

Market Cap: $375,780,000
Ticker Symbol: WLH

William Lyon Homes has been planning and building homes for more than 60 years. The company currently offers services across six states.


Universal Forest Products Inc.

Market Cap: $1,656,810,000
Ticker Symbol: UFPI

The company manufactures and sells wood products, from consumer lumber to home-building to commercial construction.


The TJX Companies Inc.

Market Cap: $52,062,600,000
Ticker Symbol: TJX

Over the years, TJX has come to own classic American brands in apparel and homegoods, ranging from T.J.Maxx to HomeGoods to Marshalls.


O’Reilly Automotive Inc.

Market Cap: $26,524,100,000
Ticker Symbol: ORLY

What began as a single, modest auto parts store in Springfield, Missouri, has expanded to a massive retail chain with more than 4,500 locations across the U.S.


Visa Inc.

Market Cap: $161,795,000,000
Ticker Symbol: V

VISA can trace its roots back to Bank of America’s 1958 BankAmericard program. It expanded internationally in 1974. Today, it serves more than 200 countries.


IHS Inc.

Market Cap: $8,191,450,000
Ticker Symbol: IHS

The business started as Rogers Publishing Company, which would index product catalogs on microfilm to save space and resources. Today, the company provides data and analysis for decision making in technical industries like defense, aerospace, energy and more.


Domino’s Pizza Inc.

Market Cap: $6,499,340,000
Ticker Symbol: DPZ

Two brothers borrowed $900 (after a $500 down payment) to buy their first pizza store. Today, it operates more than 12,000 stores worldwide.


J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

Market Cap: $9,489,930,000
Ticker Symbol: JBHT

Founder J.B. Hunt founded his trucking company with just five trucks and seven trailers. Today, it’s the nation’s largest public trucking company.


Plantronics Inc.

Market Cap: $1,271,670,000
Ticker Symbol: PLT

In its early history, Plantronics developed specialized headsets for airline professionals and call center employees. More recently, the company has expanded to all sorts of audio equipment, including gaming and Bluetooth.


Regency Centers Corporation

Market Cap: $7,491,820,000
Ticker Symbol: REG

This real estate investment trust mostly focuses on space for shopping centers and office buildings.


Spirit Airlines Inc.

Market Cap: $3,374,160,000
Ticker Symbol: SAVE

Spirit Airlines began as Clipper Trucking Company in 1964, but transitioned to an airline over the next several decades. Today, it is a low-cost airline with service to 52 destinations.


Dolby Laboratories Inc.

Market Cap: $4,200,170,000
Ticker Symbol: DLB

Dolby Laboratories began in 1965. Founder Ray Dolby wanted to develop noise reduction technologies. Today, the company has grown to nearly 2,000 employees and produces audio products and services across the industry.


Mastercard Inc.

Market Cap: $101,344,000,000
Ticker Symbol: MA

MasterCard began when a group of California banks created the Interbank Card Association. Today, the company processes transactions for more than 150 currencies.


Fastenal Company

Market Cap: $13,993,300,000
Ticker Symbol: FAST

Fastenal began as a small-town fastener shop. Today, the industrial supply company operates nearly 2,700 stores across 50 states and more than 20 countries.


HCA Holdings Inc.

Market Cap: $30,252,500,000
Ticker Symbol: HCA

HCA had modest beginnings, with just one hospital (Park View) in the early days. By 2014, the company was operating 168 hospitals and 113 surgery centers.


The Gap Inc.

Market Cap: $11,529,000,000
Ticker Symbol: GPS

The Gap began in San Francisco in 1969, but has expanded to other famous brands since. The company purchased Banana Republic in 1983 and launched Old Navy in 1994. To this day, the iconic “1969” founding date appears on several items of Gap clothing.


Vantiv Inc.

Market Cap: $10,037,200,000
Ticker Symbol: VNTV

The payment processing and technology provider was the second-largest merchant payment processor in the United States in 2015.


FedEx Corporation

Market Cap: $43,535,700,000
Ticker Symbol: FDX

What started as Federal Express Corporation in Little Rock, Arkansas, has expanded to a massive shipping and delivery company. Scientist and web cartoonist Randall Munroe estimates that FedEx’s bandwidth (AKA capability to transfer large amounts of data) is still greater than that of the entire internet.


Carnival Corporation

Market Cap: $29,089,800,000
Ticker Symbol: CCL

Carnival Corporation started as the Carnival Cruise Line, but has gone on to become the single largest cruise ship operator in the world. Some estimate Carnival owns a slight majority of the market (52 percent).


CBOE Holdings Inc.

Market Cap: $5,320,770,000
Ticker Symbol: CBOE

Established by the Chicago Board of Trade, CBOE has grown to become the largest U.S. options exchange.


Tech Data Corporation

Market Cap: $2,667,230,000
Ticker Symbol: TECD

This IT products and services company started by selling processing supplies for mainframe computers, but has continued to adapt to the advance of technology, including modern-day cloud service solutions.


Microsoft Corporation

Market Cap: $423,464,000,000
Ticker Symbol: MSFT

Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the modest tech geek outfit grew to become the dominant face of consumer and enterprise computing in the 1990s, and remains one of tech’s biggest players to this day.


St. Jude Medical Inc.

Market Cap: $15,428,800,000
Ticker Symbol: STJ

St. Jude Medical began by producing artificial heart valves, but has grown into a leading medical device company with customers across the globe.


Apple Inc.

Market Cap: $583,235,000,000
Ticker Symbol: AAPL

Begun by Steve Wozniak (computer programmer) and Steve Jobs (businessman, geek, visionary), Apple sparked at least two revolutions, first in computing (ex: the Apple II), and later, in mobile technology (ex: the iPhone).


Factset Research Systems Inc.

Market Cap: $6,182,800,000
Ticker Symbol: FDS

The data and analysis company set out to help people understand financial information better. Today, the company serves more than 60,000 users.


Boston Scientific Corporation

Market Cap: $24,324,200,000
Ticker Symbol: BSX

The medical device company wanted to develop less-invasive medicine for patients. Today, the company says it treats 40 patients per minute with Boston Scientific products.


Amgen Inc.

Market Cap: $111,588,000,000
Ticker Symbol: AMGN

Originally Applied Molecular Genetics, AMGen now provides medicine and other biopharmaceutical solutions to more than 75 countries.


Linear Technology Corporation

Market Cap: $10,562,300,000
Ticker Symbol: LLTC

Linear Technology Corporation manufactures integrated circuits for use in technology products in a dozen industries, from automative to medical, consumer to military.



Market Cap: $52,148,300,000
Ticker Symbol: CEO

CNOOC is the largest producer of offshore crude oil and natural gas in China.


Costco Wholesale Corporation

Market Cap: $67,027,500,000
Ticker Symbol: COST

Costco began under the name Price Club in a converted airplane hangar in San Diego, although the first official Costco opened in Seattle in 1983. In 2015, it became the second-largest retailer in the world behind Walmart.


Cisco Systems Inc.

Market Cap: $140,396,000,000
Ticker Symbol: CSCO

Started by a husband-wife pair at Stanford University, Cisco (which got its name from San Francisco) is now a massive networking solutions company with more than 71,500 employees.


Starbucks Corporation

Market Cap: $87,148,800,000
Ticker Symbol: SBUX

Starbucks’ modest origins began in 1971, when two teachers and a writer founded the coffeehouse in Seattle. It wasn’t until the enterprising Howard Schultz bought the chain over a decade later that Starbucks’ modern history started. Today, the coffee shop boasts more than 20,000 locations worldwide, making it the biggest coffee chain in the world.


Celgene Corporation

Market Cap: $77,556,800,000
Ticker Symbol: CELG

This drug manufacturer produces therapies for cancer. In 2013, Forbes named it the No. 2 drug company for financial performance and medical output.


Gilead Sciences Inc.

Market Cap: $126,379,000,000
Ticker Symbol: GILD

Founded by 29-year-old Michael L. Riordan, Gilead Sciences has grown into a major biopharmaceutical company, selling drugs like Viread and soon, Descovy.


Blackrock Inc.

Market Cap: $55,233,700,000
Ticker Symbol: BLK

A late-’80s investment management firm, BlackRock now manages more money (approximately $4.6 trillion) than any other investment firm in the world.


Accenture PLC

Market Cap: $71,688,900,000
Ticker Symbol: ACN

What started as a consulting division of accounting firm Arthur Andersen has split off to become the world’s biggest consulting firm by revenue.


Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc.

Market Cap: $12,224,500,000
Ticker Symbol: ULTA

After opening a single store in 1990, Ulta Beauty has expanded to become the biggest beauty retailer in the United States, with more than 20,000 individual products.


Open Text

Market Cap: $6,038,280,000
Ticker Symbol: OTEX

Open Text manages information for companies — often referred to as Enterprise Information Management. Today, the company employs more than 5,000 people.


Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Market Cap: $29,851,100,000
Ticker Symbol: ALXN

Four years after its inception, Alexion went public. Today, the major pharmaceutical company employs more than 3,000 employees and serves patients in 50 countries.


NVIDIA Corporation

Market Cap: $18,877,900,000
Ticker Symbol: NVDA

Nvidia started out as a standard chip maker, but has expanded its reach to the gaming, visualization, data and auto industries. Nvidia’s GPUs remain a staple in the computing business.

1994 Inc.

Market Cap: $273,027,000,000
Ticker Symbol: AMZN

Jeff Bezos left a swanky Wall Street job when he saw the potential of the emerging internet and dreamed up “the everything store.” Today, Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer.


eBay Inc.

Market Cap: $28,430,400,000
Ticker Symbol: EBAY

EBay began as a side project and hobby for entrepreneur and tech geek Pierre Omidyar. With the explosion of e-commerce, however, it rapidly grew to become the go-to website for secondary market shopping (i.e. buying used goods from other users).


Chunghwa Telecom

Market Cap: $26,119,300,000
Ticker Symbol: CHT

In an attempt to privatize various businesses, the Taiwanese government spun off Chunghwa Telecom in 1996. Today, it is the country’s largest telecommunications company and it trades on the U.S. stock market.


The Priceline Group Inc.

Market Cap: $63,858,600,000
Ticker Symbol: PCLN

Known early on for their Name Your Own Price service, Priceline has expanded its brand portfolio to include OpenTable and KAYAK, among others.



Market Cap: $504,903,000,000
Ticker Symbol: GOOG

When Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin set out to organize the internet’s information, they created Google. It would become the most powerful company on the internet. While the company changed its corporate identity to Alphabet, Google’s core, most successful product remains Search.

1999 Inc.

Market Cap: $192,151,000,000
Ticker Symbol: BABA

Essentially the Chinese version of Amazon, Alibaba actually delivers more packages per year than Amazon, although Amazon still wins on straight-up revenue.


Baidu, Inc. (ADR)

Market Cap: $64,081,800,000
Ticker Symbol: BIDU

Sometimes considered the Chinese Google, Baidu offers a variety of services, though its Chinese-language search portal is the most popular.


ITC Holdings Corporation

Market Cap: $6,516,350,000
Ticker Symbol: ITC

ITC Holdings provides electricity services to much of the Midwest, with coverage across more than a dozen states.


Antero Resources Corporation

Market Cap: $6,837,870,000
Ticker Symbol: AR

Antero Resources is an oil and natural gas company that operates in the Appalachian Basin. The company targets unconventional oil and liquids-rich natural gas properties.


Tesla Motors Inc.

Market Cap: $30,407,200,000
Ticker Symbol: TSLA

Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla to develop and commercialize electric vehicles. Soon joined by Elon Musk, the company has ridden a string of successes to car industry awards and blockbuster product releases. The recently introduced Model 3 secured nearly 300,000 reservations in the days following its announcement.


Facebook Inc.

Market Cap: $323,594,000,000
Ticker Symbol: FB

Started by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dorm room, the Facebook social network now has more than 1 billion daily active users.


Workday Inc.

Market Cap: $14,006,800,000
Ticker Symbol: WDAY

An idea that started at a Truckee, California diner wound up producing HR and finance software used by more than 700 customers worldwide.


NXP Semiconductors

Market Cap: $27,981,300,000
Ticker Symbol: NXPI

NXP’s origins lie in integrated circuits under the company name “Signetics.” Since then, the company has chanced its name to NXP Semiconductors, and has expanded to cover connected cars, cyber security, wearables, the Internet of Things and more.


Zayo Group Holdings Inc.

Market Cap: $5,776,970,000
Ticker Symbol: ZAYO

Zayo provides infrastructure services for data centers, wireless carriers, government agencies and more. Today, they provide 7.7 million miles of fiber and 53 data centers across North America and Europe.


Brixmor Property Group Inc.

Market Cap: $7,392,070,000
Ticker Symbol: BRX

The real estate investment trust serves as a landlord for many locations of popular retail and grocery store brands, including Kroger, Walmart, Target and more.


Weibo Corp

Market Cap: $3,747,760,000
Ticker Symbol: WB

Weibo is a Chinese-language social media platform with a focus on news, discussion and content sharing.


Tesoro Logistics LP

Market Cap: $4,040,310,000
Ticker Symbol: TLLP

Tesoro owns and operates more than 3,500 miles of pipelines for transporting oil and natural gas, largely west of the Mississippi.


Store Capital Corporation

Market Cap: $3,602,280,000
Ticker Symbol: STOR

Formed by six experienced executives from legal, real estate and accounting backgrounds, Store Capital Corporation is a real estate investment trust (a company that operates primarily income-producing real estate).



Market Cap: $7,904,010,000
Ticker Symbol: MPLX

Formed by Marathon Petroleum Corporation in 2012, MPLX owns nearly 3,000 miles of pipeline across nine states.


Phillips 66 Partners LP

Market Cap: $5,090,330,000
Ticker Symbol: PSXP

Phillips 66 formed this master limited partnership that includes a variety of assets, including oil pipelines and receiving facilities.


Keysight Technologies Inc.

Market Cap: $4,666,510,000
Ticker Symbol: KEYS

What started as Hewlett-Packard and Agilent’s test division became an independent company in 2014. The company won a market leadership award from Frost & Sullivan for its industry-leading products, such as oscilloscopes, multimeters and atomic force microscopes.


EQT GP Holdings

Market Cap: $6,537,010,000
Ticker Symbol: EQGP

This Appalachian Basin energy company was created by EQT Corporation. The new limited partnership is focused on acquiring midstream assets for oil and natural gas production.

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