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Alphabet, before it was the all-encompassing giant we know today, wasn’t even a search engine to begin with. The company set out as a textbook Silicon Valley startup dream – two scrappy students loaned some cash to build servers that would form the bedrock of a company launched out of a garage. Today, Alphabet is among the technology juggernauts that roll humanity’s progress forward. Aside from the Google search engine that we use for recipes and tough-to-spell words, or YouTube (great for smol cat videos), Alphabet also owns and develops artificially intelligent chatbots. So intelligent, one of them even spooked a Google dev once!
Someone tell Jeff Bezos to ‘stahp.’ From a tiny online bookstore in 1994, Amazon has expanded into an everything store and beyond. Really beyond. The tech high-flyer now boasts a large-cap e-commerce platform, has a giant cloud computing network called AWS, owns grocery stores and pharmacies, and even threw $715mn behind the hit TV show “Rings of Power'' – as a J.R.R. Tolkien fan Bezos set the record for the most expensive season of television ever made (we’re talking 8 episodes). To top it off, the roughly $1tn company was tapped by the European Central Bank to pitch a prototype for a digital euro – is there anything Amazon can’t do?
Remember Clippy, that awful paperclip with eyes? Bill Gates remembers! “Let’s make an intrusive and impractical MS Office Assistant that the world will love to hate” – Bill Gates (probably). Besides Clippy, Gates gave the world a tech revolution as he built out his vision to put a computer in every home and office. Thanks to Microsoft, the world experienced the thrill of using an operating system called Windows that could run games and programs. Today, Microsoft is a tech mainstay with around a $1.8tn valuation. Sadly, we have since had to say goodbye to house browser Internet Explorer – the most used browser to download other browsers.
Warren Buffett loves these guys and can’t own enough. Crowds line up outside its stores to get the newest model. Even predatory activist investor Carl Icahn couldn’t find fault in its chief executive Tim Cook. Ladies and gents, you’re looking at the first company to strike $3tn in market value. Apple – the technology juggernaut that Steve Jobs unleashed with a smartphone revolution that expanded into all corners of tech. The extraordinary rise of Apple, however, slowed down in 2022 when rising rates knocked the forward-looking, growth-oriented big tech space, slashing Apple’s valuation by about one fifth to just over $2.3tn.
What would happen if you pivoted your entire company to focus on a product that doesn’t yet exist? You’ll take a lot of heat from your investors, for one. But how about wiping out more than 75% of your valuation? That’s what happened to Facebook right after it rebranded to Meta. Over $800bn has been wiped off the stock in a dismal year after CEO Mark Zuckerberg changed course to pursue the immersive but amorphous digital realm known as the metaverse. In a bid to stabilize the company, Zuckerberg admitted in late 2022 that he had been overly optimistic about growth and announced broad layoffs that reached 11,000 Meta employees globally.