According to the Chicago Tribune, the five largest technology companies (Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft) are worth more than the United Kingdom’s entire economy. The United Kingdom’s GDP in 2017 was $2.6 trillion, and these technology companies are valued at $3.5 trillion. That is a lot of money indeed. There is no denying that point at all. Here are some bullet point facts pulled from the Tribune’s article linked above:
- Apple makes roughly as much money every day as 2500 average U.S. households can expect to see in a year.
- While you were looking at baby pictures or stalking your ex yesterday, Facebook made $1.6 million.
- The two big tech companies you almost never pay directly — Google and Facebook — can afford to offer you free services thanks to their hammerlock on digital advertising.
- With a single move, Amazon could create $2 billion out of thin air. The company just said it will raise the annual price of its Prime membership program to $119 from $99.
- Mark Zuckerberg made $6.6 billion on Thursday, the day after Facebook reported earnings.
But can we really consider Facebook, Amazon, and Google technology companies? That’s a question I’ve heard and considered over the years, and I still struggle with an answer. These three companies rely on information gathering and advertising to sustain their business. That is their primary means of generating profits and revenue. Their technology sides are simply a means to drive more information gathering and serve more advertising.
Often you see these three companies purchasing tech and smaller tech companies. They may assimilate the tech into their portfolio or operate the purchased company at a loss, but why? Data. As mentioned before, these big three are reliant on data because that is their business model. In the end, while all three of these companies are developing in the tech field, do you consider them purely tech companies? Or is the technology development a means to their data gathering ends?
I’m interested in what you think. Personally, I haven’t settled on an answer and tend to drift back and forth.