Google Makes Top 5 Most Valuable CompaniesBy Lawrence Walsh | Posted 2007-11-01 Email Print
The search giant's market cap exceeds the GDP of most countries, but will it stand in the winners circle after the tech industry consolidates? And where will Microsoft stand?
Google walks among the titans of Wall Street, officially. With its stock flirting with $700 per share and a market capitalization of $217 billion, it is now fifth among the top five most valuable companies on the Standard & Poor 500. The four other companies ahead of the search juggernaut, in order: ExxonMobil ($506 billion), General Electric ($415 billion), Microsoft ($333 billion) and AT&T ($253 billion).
With more than $12 billion in the bank and a business that is printing more dollars than the Federal Reserve, Google is no aberration of the Internet era. The question is, who will hold the coveted spots in the pantheon of tech companies?
At a recent gathering of chief information security officers, the discussion turned from best practices and leading technologies to the viability of leading technology companies and the anticipated result of industry consolidation. When they started ticking down the top five technology companies, guess who their list didn't include? You got it: Microsoft.
For that matter, they didn't mention Oracle, SAP, Intel, AMD or Xerox.
These CISOs were fairly confident in their prediction that IBM, Hewlett-Packard, EMC, Cisco Systems and, perhaps, Google, would reign supreme in the top five following a period of anticipated consolidation. Symantec, McAfee and a swath of stalwart security companies would be pushed aside by the rising tide of EMC, Cisco and IBM, they said, while HP and IBM would dominate servers, with Cisco leading networking and software trumpeted by Google and IBM.
But why not Microsoft?
Microsoft, the original disruptor of the Information Age, has been under siege for years. Historically late to the game on industry-changing technologies but always able to use its market power to play catch-up, Bill Gates & Co. now face formidable challengers in Google, IBM and Cisco, to name a few.
Google's free apps and building portfolio of technology acquisitions may eventually result in a viable, enterprise-ready, broad-based software-as-a-service company. IBM's backing of open source productivity software is shaking the long détente between Big Blue and Redmond. And Microsoft and Cisco are on a collision course over their differing visions for unified communications.
Even as Microsoft continues to bolster its security portfolio under the ForeFront banner, many are placing their bets on EMC to win the security battle with its array of offerings in virtualization (VMWare) and information lifecycle management (RSA Security).
While Google is now firmly cemented in the industry and showing no signs of faltering, this doesn't mean it will continue along its current path. Consider the history of Yahoo, which passed on an acquisition of Google when Google was an infant and is now struggling to reinvent itself. And the same holds true for Microsoft, which is being written off before it's had a chance to reinvent itself.
Given that the technology market is in a constant state of change, which technology companies do you think will be in the top five in 2012? Send your list to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lawrence M. Walsh is editor of Baseline and regular columnist for eWeek's Channel Insider.