What Is the Largest Business in the World? The world of business is a dynamic and ever-evolving arena, where giants rise and fall, and fortunes are made and lost.
When we ponder what is the largest business in the world, we embark on a quest to understand the titans that shape the global economy.
This article explores various aspects of business size, delving into the largest corporations by revenue, market capitalization, and influence, offering a comprehensive view of the world’s most influential businesses.
Largest Corporations by Revenue
When seeking the largest business in terms of revenue, one need look no further than the Fortune Global 500 list.
Updated annually, this list showcases the economic prowess of global corporations. For several years, companies such as Walmart, Amazon, and the State Grid Corporation of China have consistently occupied the top positions.
These colossal entities span diverse industries, from retail to energy, amassing staggering annual revenues that can stretch into the trillions of dollars.
Walmart, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, is one of the world’s largest and most prominent retail corporations.
Founded by Sam Walton in 1962, Walmart has grown to become a global retail giant, operating a vast network of stores and e-commerce platforms.
When discussing the largest businesses in the world, Walmart is often at the forefront, particularly in terms of revenue and its significant impact on the global retail industry.
Key Facts About Walmart
1. Revenue and Size
Walmart consistently ranks as one of the largest corporations in the world by revenue. Its annual revenue typically ranks in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and it has a vast network of retail stores across the United States and various other countries.
The company’s extensive supply chain and economies of scale allow it to offer a wide range of products at competitive prices.
2. Retail Operations
Walmart’s primary business is retail, operating a variety of store formats, including supercenters, discount stores, and warehouse clubs.
These stores sell everything from groceries and household goods to electronics, clothing, and more. The company’s commitment to providing low prices has made it a popular shopping destination for consumers worldwide.
In addition to its brick-and-mortar stores, Walmart has made significant investments in e-commerce.
The company’s online platform, Walmart.com, offers a vast selection of products, including groceries, electronics, and apparel, allowing it to compete with online retail giants like Amazon.
4. Global Presence
Walmart has a substantial international presence, with operations in numerous countries.
It has acquired or partnered with various retail chains worldwide, adapting its approach to suit local markets while maintaining its core values of low prices and customer satisfaction.
Walmart is one of the largest employers globally, providing jobs to millions of people across its various stores and distribution centers.
It is often scrutinized for labor practices, but the company has also taken steps to improve employee benefits and wages in recent years.
Walmart has taken initiatives to enhance its sustainability efforts.
The company aims to be more environmentally friendly by reducing its carbon footprint, increasing energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable sourcing practices.
7. Community Engagement
Walmart is involved in various charitable and community programs, contributing to disaster relief efforts and supporting local communities through grants and donations.
While Walmart faces competition from other retail giants and the ever-expanding e-commerce sector, its status as one of the largest businesses in the world remains undeniable.
Its ability to adapt to changing consumer preferences and its commitment to offering value to customers have allowed it to maintain its position as a dominant force in the global retail landscape.
Amazon, founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 as an online bookstore, has grown into one of the most influential and largest businesses in the world. It has transformed the way people shop, revolutionized e-commerce, and expanded into various industries beyond online retail.
When discussing the largest businesses globally, Amazon is consistently at the forefront, particularly in terms of revenue, market capitalization, and its extensive reach.
Key Facts About Amazon
1. Diverse Revenue Streams
Amazon’s primary business is e-commerce, and it is renowned for its vast online marketplace where consumers can purchase a wide range of products, from books and electronics to clothing and groceries. However, Amazon has diversified its revenue streams significantly. It operates Amazon Web Services (AWS), a cloud computing platform that serves businesses and organizations globally, contributing significantly to its revenue and profitability.
2. Global E-commerce Dominance
Amazon’s e-commerce platform is one of the largest in the world. It offers customers convenience, competitive pricing, and a vast selection of products. The company has expanded its footprint internationally, providing customers in numerous countries with access to its services.
3. Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime, a subscription service, offers customers benefits like fast and free shipping, access to streaming services (Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Music), and exclusive discounts. It has contributed to customer loyalty and retention.
4. AWS (Amazon Web Services)
AWS is a leader in the cloud computing industry, providing a wide range of cloud-based services to businesses and organizations. AWS has a substantial market share and is known for its reliability, scalability, and innovative solutions.
Amazon has a strong commitment to innovation, exemplified by its development of new technologies such as Alexa (voice-controlled virtual assistant) and its investments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics to improve operations and customer experiences.
Over the years, Amazon has acquired various companies, including Whole Foods Market (a grocery store chain), PillPack (an online pharmacy), and Ring (a smart home security company). These acquisitions have expanded its presence in different sectors.
Amazon has committed to environmental sustainability, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040. It has invested in renewable energy projects, electric delivery vehicles, and sustainable packaging.
8. Employment and Labor Practices
Amazon is one of the largest employers globally, providing jobs to millions of people worldwide. However, it has faced scrutiny and criticism for its labor practices and working conditions in some fulfillment centers.
9. Original Content Production
Amazon Studios produces original movies and TV shows, competing with traditional entertainment studios and streaming platforms like Netflix.
Amazon’s relentless focus on customer-centricity, technological innovation, and diversification has allowed it to dominate various industries and maintain its position as one of the largest and most influential businesses globally.
Its ability to adapt to changing consumer preferences and leverage emerging technologies continues to shape the future of commerce and technology.
3. State Grid Corporation of China
The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) is the largest electric utility company and state-owned enterprise in China, as well as one of the largest utility companies in the world. Established in 2002, SGCC plays a crucial role in the management and operation of China’s power grid infrastructure. When discussing the largest businesses globally, SGCC stands out due to its immense scale, control over critical infrastructure, and its pivotal role in China’s energy sector.
Key Facts About the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC):
1. Scope of Operations
SGCC is responsible for the construction and operation of China’s high-voltage electricity transmission network. It owns and manages a vast network of power transmission lines and substations that span the entire country, ensuring the reliable supply of electricity to China’s growing population and industrial base.
2. Global Reach
While SGCC primarily focuses on serving China’s domestic energy needs, it has also expanded its presence internationally. The company has invested in power infrastructure projects in several countries, including Brazil, Australia, and the Philippines, and has shown interest in participating in global energy markets and initiatives.
3. Massive Scale
SGCC’s transmission network is one of the largest in the world, with thousands of substations and extensive high-voltage power lines crisscrossing China. Its reach and capacity are critical for delivering electricity from power generation sources to end-users across the vast Chinese territory.
4. State Ownership
As a state-owned enterprise, SGCC is directly controlled by the Chinese government. Its status as a state-controlled entity underscores its strategic importance in ensuring a stable and reliable energy supply for China’s economic development and societal well-being.
5. Energy Transition and Modernization
SGCC plays a significant role in China’s efforts to transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. The company invests in modernizing the grid to accommodate renewable energy integration, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and smart grid technologies.
6. Innovation and Technology
SGCC is actively involved in research and development initiatives to advance grid technologies. It aims to enhance grid reliability, reduce energy losses, and improve overall energy efficiency.
7. Environmental Initiatives
SGCC has committed to environmental sustainability by reducing carbon emissions and promoting green energy solutions. It is working on projects related to wind power, solar energy, and other renewable resources.
With its extensive operations and numerous subsidiaries, SGCC provides employment to a significant number of people in China. It contributes to job creation, infrastructure development, and economic growth.
9. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
SGCC has been involved in energy projects related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, aiming to connect China with neighboring countries through energy infrastructure development, enhancing regional cooperation and connectivity.
SGCC’s role in China’s energy sector is indispensable, as it ensures a stable electricity supply to support the country’s rapid industrialization and urbanization. As China continues to invest in renewable energy and modernize its power grid, SGCC’s influence and importance are expected to grow further, solidifying its position as one of the largest and most critical businesses in the world, particularly in the energy and utility sector.
Largest Corporations by Market Capitalization
Market capitalization is a crucial metric that reflects the total value of a company’s outstanding shares of stock.
It serves as a barometer of investor confidence and the overall financial health of a business. In recent years, technology giants have dominated the list of the largest businesses in the world by market capitalization.
Apple Inc. is one of the world’s most renowned and influential technology companies. Founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976, Apple has played a transformative role in the technology industry, shaping consumer electronics, software, and digital services.
When discussing the largest businesses globally, Apple consistently stands out, particularly in terms of market capitalization, innovation, and brand recognition.
Key Facts About Apple Inc.
1. Product Portfolio
Apple is widely recognized for its diverse product lineup, including the iPhone (smartphones), iPad (tablets), Mac (computers), Apple Watch (wearables), and Apple TV (digital media players). It also produces software such as macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
2. iOS Ecosystem
Apple has created a unique ecosystem around its products and services. This ecosystem is characterized by seamless integration between devices and software, enabling users to sync data, content, and services across their Apple devices effortlessly.
3. Market Capitalization
Apple consistently ranks among the most valuable companies in the world by market capitalization. It has been the first company to reach a market capitalization of over $2 trillion, highlighting its financial strength and market dominance.
Apple is known for its commitment to innovation, introducing groundbreaking technologies and design concepts. Examples include the touchscreen smartphone (iPhone), the tablet computer (iPad), and the App Store, which revolutionized app distribution.
5. Retail Presence
Apple operates a global network of retail stores known as Apple Stores. These stores provide a unique shopping experience and offer technical support and training. Apple’s retail presence is an integral part of its brand strategy.
Apple has expanded its offerings into digital services, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud. These services contribute significantly to the company’s revenue and are designed to complement its hardware products.
Apple is committed to environmental sustainability, with initiatives such as using renewable energy in its operations, reducing carbon emissions, and recycling and refurbishing older devices.
8. Privacy Focus
Apple places a strong emphasis on user privacy and data security. It has implemented features such as App Tracking Transparency to give users more control over their data and how it is used by third-party apps.
9. Supply Chain
Apple’s complex global supply chain involves manufacturing partners and suppliers in various countries, with China being a major hub for assembly and production.
10. Brand Loyalty
Apple has cultivated a dedicated and loyal customer base, often referred to as “Apple fans” or “Apple users.” The company’s strong brand identity and commitment to quality contribute to this loyalty.
11. Research and Development
Apple invests heavily in research and development to drive innovation and stay competitive in the ever-evolving tech industry.
Apple has been involved in philanthropic efforts, including contributions to education, environmental conservation, and community initiatives.
Apple’s influence extends far beyond its product offerings; it has reshaped industries, transformed consumer behavior, and set new standards for design and user experience. As one of the largest and most innovative technology companies globally, Apple continues to drive technological advancements and shape the digital landscape for years to come.
Microsoft Corporation, commonly known as Microsoft, is one of the world’s leading technology companies. Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, Microsoft has played a pivotal role in the personal computing revolution and the software industry. It is consistently ranked among the largest and most influential businesses globally, with a strong focus on software development, cloud computing, and other technology-related ventures.
Key Facts About Microsoft
1. Operating Systems
Microsoft is renowned for its Windows operating system, which has been a dominant force in the personal computer market for decades. Windows is used by millions of individuals and organizations worldwide.
2. Office Productivity Suite
Microsoft Office is another flagship product, including applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. It is widely used for business and personal productivity.
3. Cloud Computing
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform that competes with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as one of the largest cloud service providers globally. Azure offers a wide range of cloud-based services, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) solutions.
4. Productivity and Collaboration Tools
Microsoft’s cloud-based collaboration platform, Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), offers a suite of tools for communication, collaboration, and productivity. This includes Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive.
5. Video Game Industry
Microsoft is a major player in the video game industry, with its Xbox gaming console and related services such as Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass. The acquisition of game developer Bethesda Softworks further solidified its presence in the gaming market.
6. Enterprise Software
Microsoft offers various enterprise software solutions, including Windows Server, SQL Server, and Dynamics 365, catering to businesses’ infrastructure, data management, and customer relationship management needs.
Over the years, Microsoft has acquired numerous companies to expand its offerings and stay competitive in evolving markets. Notable acquisitions include LinkedIn, GitHub, and Skype.
8. Artificial Intelligence
Microsoft is investing heavily in artificial intelligence (AI) research and development. It offers AI-based solutions and tools for developers, businesses, and consumers.
9. Open Source Initiatives
Microsoft has increasingly embraced open source software and has contributed to open source projects. It has also developed its own open source projects, such as the .NET framework.
Microsoft is committed to sustainability and has set ambitious goals to be carbon negative by 2030. It is working to reduce its carbon footprint and invest in renewable energy projects.
The company is involved in philanthropic initiatives, including the Microsoft Philanthropies program, which focuses on education, accessibility, and digital inclusion.
12. Operating System for Embedded Devices
Microsoft’s Windows Embedded operating systems power various embedded devices, including ATMs, point-of-sale terminals, and industrial machinery.
Microsoft’s impact on the technology industry and its continued relevance in areas such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence demonstrate its ability to adapt and innovate. As one of the largest and most influential technology companies in the world, Microsoft remains a key player in shaping the digital future.
3. Alphabet (Google’s Parent Company)
Alphabet Inc. is the parent company of Google and is one of the most prominent technology conglomerates in the world.
Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2015, Alphabet’s primary focus is on various technology-related ventures, with Google as its most well-known subsidiary.
Alphabet’s influence extends across a wide range of industries, making it one of the largest and most influential businesses globally.
Key Facts About Alphabet Inc.
Google is Alphabet’s most significant subsidiary and is synonymous with internet search. It is the world’s leading search engine, with billions of searches conducted daily. Google also operates popular products and services like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Android (the mobile operating system), and the Chrome web browser.
2. Advertising Dominance
Google is a dominant force in online advertising. It operates Google Ads (formerly AdWords), a platform that allows businesses to advertise to a global audience through targeted advertisements on search results pages and other Google properties.
3. Cloud Computing
Alphabet has a growing presence in cloud computing through Google Cloud. Google Cloud offers a suite of cloud-based services, including infrastructure, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning tools, competing with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
Alphabet has invested in hardware development, including Google Pixel smartphones, Google Nest smart home devices, and Google Stadia (a cloud gaming platform). These products contribute to Google’s ecosystem.
5. Self-Driving Cars
Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, is a leader in autonomous vehicle technology. Waymo’s self-driving cars are at the forefront of the race to commercialize autonomous transportation.
6. Life Sciences
Verily Life Sciences, another subsidiary of Alphabet, focuses on life sciences and healthcare projects, including wearables for medical monitoring and research into healthcare innovation.
7. Investments and Acquisitions
Alphabet has made numerous acquisitions and investments in various industries, including artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart cities. Notable acquisitions include DeepMind Technologies and Fitbit.
8. Moonshot Projects
Alphabet X (formerly Google X) is a subsidiary dedicated to ambitious, high-risk projects known as “moonshots.” These projects aim to address significant global challenges and include initiatives such as Project Loon (internet access via balloons) and Wing (drone delivery).
Alphabet has set goals to operate using 100% renewable energy and achieve carbon neutrality. Google is one of the world’s largest corporate buyers of renewable energy.
The company has established the philanthropic arm, Google.org, which focuses on using technology to address social and environmental challenges. It provides grants, resources, and support to various nonprofit organizations.
11. Antitrust Scrutiny
Alphabet has faced antitrust investigations and regulatory scrutiny in various countries, including the United States and the European Union, due to concerns related to market dominance and competition.
Alphabet’s diversified portfolio of businesses and its pioneering efforts in technology, artificial intelligence, and the internet have allowed it to maintain a significant presence in various sectors. Its ability to innovate and adapt to changing market dynamics ensures that it remains a key player in shaping the future of technology and digital services globally.
Influence and Global Reach
The largest business in the world can also be defined by its influence and global reach. Beyond revenue and market capitalization, companies like Amazon, Alibaba, and Saudi Aramco have transformed industries and wield considerable global influence.
Amazon’s e-commerce platform has revolutionized consumer behavior and supply chain dynamics globally. Its streaming services, cloud computing, and logistical capabilities have extended its influence far beyond online retail.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited, commonly known as Alibaba, is one of the world’s largest and most influential e-commerce and technology conglomerates.
Founded by Jack Ma in 1999, Alibaba has its headquarters in Hangzhou, China. The company’s influence extends across a wide range of industries, making it one of the largest and most prominent businesses globally.
Key Facts About Alibaba Group
1. E-commerce Dominance
Alibaba’s core business is e-commerce, operating various online marketplaces, including Taobao, Tmall, and Alibaba.com. Taobao is a popular consumer-to-consumer (C2C) platform, while Tmall focuses on business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. Alibaba.com primarily serves as a platform for global wholesale trade.
2. Singles’ Day
Alibaba’s annual Singles’ Day (November 11) shopping festival is the world’s largest online shopping event. It consistently generates record-breaking sales and has become a global phenomenon, attracting shoppers and businesses worldwide.
3. Digital Payment Services
Alibaba’s financial services arm, Ant Group (formerly known as Ant Financial), operates Alipay, one of China’s leading digital payment platforms. Alipay provides users with a secure and convenient way to make online and mobile payments, both in China and globally.
4. Cloud Computing
Alibaba Cloud, often referred to as Aliyun, is one of the largest cloud service providers globally, offering a comprehensive suite of cloud computing services, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).
5. Logistics and Delivery
Cainiao Network, an Alibaba subsidiary, focuses on logistics and supply chain management. It provides end-to-end delivery services, including last-mile delivery, warehousing, and cross-border logistics.
6. Media and Entertainment
Alibaba has invested in various media and entertainment ventures, including Alibaba Pictures, Youku Tudou (a video streaming platform), and Alibaba Music. These investments aim to expand the company’s content and digital media offerings.
7. Global Expansion
Alibaba has expanded its presence outside of China through investments and acquisitions. It has actively sought partnerships and investments in various countries and regions, including Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
8. New Retail Concept
Alibaba promotes the “New Retail” concept, which involves the integration of online and offline shopping experiences. The company has invested in physical retail stores and shopping malls to merge the benefits of both online and brick-and-mortar retail.
7. Sustainability Initiatives
Alibaba is committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility. It has set goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and has launched initiatives related to green packaging and eco-friendly practices.
The Alibaba Foundation and Jack Ma Foundation engage in philanthropic efforts, including disaster relief, education, and environmental conservation.
9. Antitrust Scrutiny
Alibaba, like other large tech companies, has faced regulatory scrutiny in China related to antitrust concerns. The Chinese government has taken measures to address potential monopolistic practices.
Alibaba’s remarkable growth and diversification have established it as a global technology and e-commerce leader. Its ability to innovate, expand its ecosystem, and adapt to changing consumer behaviors and market dynamics positions it as a key player in shaping the future of digital commerce, technology, and financial services.
3. Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco, officially known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is one of the largest and most influential energy companies in the world. It is a state-owned enterprise headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Founded in 1933, Saudi Aramco is at the heart of the global energy industry, with a focus on oil and gas exploration, production, refining, and marketing.
Key Facts About Saudi Aramco
1. Global Energy Leader
Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest and most valuable energy company, responsible for a significant portion of the world’s oil production. It plays a pivotal role in the global oil and gas industry.
2. Oil Reserves
Saudi Arabia possesses some of the world’s largest proven oil reserves, and Saudi Aramco is the sole producer of oil in the country. The company manages vast oil fields and reserves, including the massive Ghawar Field.
3. Oil Production
Saudi Aramco has consistently been one of the top oil producers globally, with the capacity to produce millions of barrels of oil per day. The company plays a critical role in influencing global oil supply and pricing.
4. Oil Refining
In addition to exploration and production, Saudi Aramco operates a substantial refining and petrochemicals business. It refines crude oil into various petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel, and petrochemical feedstocks.
5. Global Presence
Saudi Aramco has a significant international presence, with investments in oil and gas projects around the world. It has joint ventures and partnerships with various international energy companies.
In 2019, Saudi Aramco conducted an initial public offering (IPO), becoming a publicly traded company. The IPO was one of the largest in history, although the majority of the shares remain under Saudi government ownership.
7. Technology and Innovation
The company invests in research and development to enhance its oil and gas operations and promote sustainability. This includes efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency.
8. Downstream and Petrochemicals
Saudi Aramco’s downstream operations include the production of refined products, chemicals, and plastics. The company aims to diversify its portfolio and expand into higher-value products.
Saudi Aramco is actively engaged in sustainability initiatives, aiming to reduce its carbon footprint and promote responsible environmental practices in the energy sector.
The company is involved in various philanthropic efforts, including initiatives related to education, healthcare, and community development in Saudi Arabia and other regions where it operates.
11. Geopolitical Influence
As a major player in the global energy industry, Saudi Aramco’s actions and decisions have a significant impact on international geopolitics and energy markets.
Saudi Aramco’s control over vast oil reserves and its role as a primary supplier of crude oil make it a linchpin in the global energy landscape. It is a key player in the world’s transition to cleaner energy sources while simultaneously maintaining its position as a critical component of the global energy infrastructure.
The search for the largest business in the world reveals a multifaceted landscape where different corporations excel in various dimensions.
Whether assessed by revenue, market capitalization, or global influence, the largest business can vary depending on the criteria employed.
In the ever-evolving global business arena, new contenders continually emerge, challenging established giants.
The concept of the “largest business in the world” is fluid, evolving with changing economic trends and industry disruptions.
Nonetheless, a select group of multinational corporations wields immense power and influence, shaping the global economy in profound and far-reaching ways.