Adobe, a US-based platform for digital tools, was founded in 1982 and today has grown into a design software powerhouse sitting on a $150bn valuation. The downside – Adobe’s share price is down more than 60% since it peaked to nearly $700 a pop in November 2021. Adobe stunned investors in late 2022 when it delivered a $20bn-price-tag announcement – the acquisition of collaboration software maker Figma. The news jolted the tech industry which was among the hardest hit during the worst sell-off in years. The takeover raised concerns about a so-called ‘killer merger’ – could Adobe be taking out Figma just so it could eliminate a threat?
Google – the name synonymous with internet searches but also the most singled-out company when privacy gets in the limelight. After multiple slaps with record fines over personal data protection violations, Google continues to do what it does best – navigate our online life and help us avoid traffic on our way to work. Google faces little competition in its domain as a search engine with a 92% market share (Bing is a distant second with roughly 7%). However, Google parent Alphabet occasionally muscles up its other holdings in bids to diversify revenue streams. After all, over 80% of total revenue is eked out from advertising.
Apple – the wonder of human ingenuity, perseverance, and a few early-stage cold calls out of Steve Jobs’s garage. This is what led to the creation of a company that would rewire global communications, work, and entertainment. Fast-forward, Apple struck a market cap of $3tn – the first company to ever reach that milestone as the iPhone maker found itself among the biggest winners in value creation during the pandemic market rally. True, it pared back some gains and may have closed the first nine months of 2022 with a 24% loss. But that’s still better than the 33% erased in the Nasdaq Composite as Big Tech trimmed its sails after a record run.
Meta, the company that started out as a university project called Facebook, really hates missing out on anything innovative and disruptive. After TikTok beat Facebook in time spent per user, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg took it personally. He launched a full-blown offensive into the metaverse armed with a $10bn annual budget. Zuck seems to be so onboard with the belief that his fleeing users will jump into the virtual realm. Investors, however, aren’t buying into his digital-world gold rush. Meta stock is down more than 70% from its peak as it struggles to crawl out of the dismal performance – only four S&P 500 stocks fare worse so far in 2022.
Who knew that a computer programming language called BASIC would spawn an entire world of software products and services? Perhaps Bill Gates had an idea when he played around with BASIC and made it work on the Altair – a dinosaur of a personal computer dating back to 1975. That same year, Bill Gates and his childhood pal Paul Allen went on to found Microsoft – a toddler in the fledgling software industry. In 1981, Microsoft developed MS-DOS for the IBM PC and in 1985 made a name for itself with the first version of Windows. Microsoft is now a roughly $1.8tn company with global presence and a loyal customer base.
US cloud software giant Oracle was founded in 1977 under the name Relational Software. It debuted on the Nasdaq exchange in 1986 with a stock priced at $15 a slice. Fun fact: the company’s stock has seen so many stock splits, a share then would be over 300 shares now. Founder Larry Ellison’s vision for the company was so big, he expanded the operations from contract programming to commercializing data organization and storage. Thanks to Oracle’s early embrace of the internet, it developed WWW-compatible products that allowed rapid scaling. Oracle has a market cap of around $210bn, but its stock was down 30% in the first nine months of 2022.
Payments platform pioneer PayPal is a well-established fintech company that serves more than 400 million clients around the world. It commands a solid 42% of the market for payment processing solutions – a resounding success amid looming competition from newer, more modern rivals such as Stripe, Google Pay, and Shopify Payments. Despite its dominance over the payments space, PayPal has struggled to retain investor attention in a 2022 market sell-off with tech in the lead. Shares of the firm have erased more than $200bn from a peak share price of $308 to current levels around $90 and a valuation of roughly $100bn.
Salesforce, a software as a service (SaaS) provider, was founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff, a former Oracle executive. Since its first steps, the company has shown a relentless appetite to create even more value for customers through its rich suite of services. Take Slack for example. The employee chat app was gobbled up by Salesforce in late 2020 in a cash-and-stock deal for just under $28bn. The cloud software group’s hunger ultimately aims to bring in more users that sign up for subscriptions. This strategy has so far worked. Salesforce reported a $26.5bn in revenue for the fiscal 2022 ended January 2021, a 25% increase year-on-year.
Software maker SAP is Germany’s most-valuable listed company. With more than 400,000 of the world’s top firms among its clients, the blue-chip mainstay has been growing since its inception in 1972 in Weinheim. With one exception. While US rivals press into a cloud-based future, SAP is falling behind. First steps in the new business have been promising with SAP’s cloud expanding at roughly 20% a year since 2017, accounting for less than a third of total revenues. Still, to get to its goal of being a “very dominant cloud player in 2025,” SAP needs to ramp up the effort.