I was struck by this tweet over the weekend by Patrick Collison:
The increase in Microsoft’s annual revenue since Google was founded is still greater than Google’s total annual revenue.
— Patrick Collison (@patrickc) October 26, 2014
It’s worth digging out the actual numbers to see what that comparison really is.
Google was founded in 1998. The earliest revenue figure I can find is from 2001: just $86.4m. It’s safe to assume in 1998, Google’s revenue was zero or close to it. For FY2013, Google annouced revenues of $59.83bn. A staggering growth from 12 years prior.
Microsoft’s revenue for FY1997/98 was $14.48bn. For FY2013/14, it was $86.83bn – an increase of $72.35bn. That’s $12.52bn more than Google’s latest figures.
And for fun, let’s throw in Apple. 1998 was still three years before the release of the iPod. Apple recorded revenues of ‘just’ $5.94bn. That’s now grown to $170.91bn for FY2013/14 – more than Microsoft and Google combined.
While these figures tell us about past growth, it doesn’t tell you much about the future. Who would you rather be: Google, Microsoft or Apple?
Notes on revenue figures
- Google’s financial year runs the same as the calendar year.
- Microsoft’s financial year runs from July to June the following year.
- Apple’s financial year runs from October to September the following year.
Reminds me of the argument Ben Thompson put forward here: http://stratechery.com/2014/peak-google/. Tech companies aren’t replaced, they’re eclipsed – the platforms they dominate don’t suddenly lose their value when a cool new disruptive platform emerges – IBM is still a very profitable company despite the emergence of Microsoft and the PC, Microsoft is still generating a tonne of revenue despite the emergence of Google and Search, and Google will still be generating tonnes of revenue from Search despite being eclipsed by Facebook’s dominance in mobile.