America's Most Valuable Company Every Year Since 1995

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jan 18, 2024 - 11:55 AM

Over the last three decades, the growth of tech companies has driven a shift in the ranking of the most valuable companies in the United States.

In this graphic, Visual Capitalist's Marcus Lu and Bruno Venditti utilize data from the American Business History Center to present the history of America’s most valuable public company from 1995 to 2023. Valuations are for March 31 of that year, and are not adjusted for inflation.

The Surge of Tech Giants

In the early 1990s, the top rank was dominated by General Electric. The centenary company held a significant presence in the market with its various divisions, encompassing aerospace, power, renewable energy, digital industry, and finance.

In 1999, however, GE was surpassed by Microsoft. In that year, Bill Gates’ company launched its first online store, and Internet Explorer 5.0 was introduced, followed by more than 1 million downloads of the new version in less than a week.

YearCompanyMarket Cap (as of Q1)
1995General Electric$93,322 billion
1996General Electric$126,523 billion
1997General Electric$169,388 billion
1998General Electric$260,147 billion
1999Microsoft$418,579 billion
2000Microsoft$492,462 billion
2001General Electric$407,054 billion
2002General Electric$401,499 billion
2003Microsoft$266,037 billion
2004General Electric$329,240 billion
2005ExxonMobil$392,636 billion
2006ExxonMobil$372,792 billion
2007ExxonMobil$425,795 billion
2008ExxonMobil$455,929 billion
2009ExxonMobil$345,815 billion
2010ExxonMobil$314,154 billion
2011ExxonMobil$411,638 billion
2012Apple$568,615 billion
2013Apple$415,683 billion
2014Apple$479,069 billion
2015Apple$724,773 billion
2016Apple$604,304 billion
2017Apple$753,718 billion
2018Apple$851,318 billion
2019Microsoft$904,861 billion
2020Microsoft$1.199 trillion
2021Apple$2.050 trillion
2022Apple$2.849 trillion
2023Apple$2.609 trillion

Both Microsoft and GE competed for the top spot from 2000 to 2004. However, after 2005, ExxonMobil held the position for seven years. Following the 1998 Exxon and Mobil $74 billion merger agreement, the largest oil company in the world benefited from increasing gas prices over that period.

Since 2012, however, the ranking has been dominated by Apple. Boosted by the success of its iPhone line, its biggest cash cow, the company was only behind Microsoft in 2019 and 2020 when concerns about COVID-driven supply chain shortages affected the iPhone maker’s stock price.

More recently, Microsoft overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company in January 2024, after the iPhone maker’s shares had a weak start to the year due to growing concerns over demand in China.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s shares rose sharply thanks to the early lead the company had taken in generative artificial intelligence through an investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI.