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Lessons of success from the world’s trillion-dollar companies

There aren’t many global businesses that have made it to the exclusive 12-digit club.

trillion dollar companies

One trillion dollars is a figure so gigantic it’s truly unfathomable to many, but not for five global corporations in the trillion dollar companies club.

Google’s parent company Alphabet is the newest company to hit a market peak of $1 trillion, making it the fourth US business to reach the staggering sum.

Before the tech giant’s incredible milestone, Apple and Amazon cracked the trillion-dollar ceiling in 2018 only for its shares to plummet shortly after.

Microsoft was briefly named the world’s most valuable tech company when it entered the exclusive 12-digit club in 2019 before share prices dropped.

It follows in the footsteps of Dutch East India Company, which is believed to be the world’s first multinational business. The venture operated for 200 years after being founded in 1602 where it was worth 78 million Dutch guilders at the time – equating to US$7.9 trillion in modern currency.

With only a handful of ventures reaching the exclusive milestone (not to forget Saudi Aramco that, incredibly, became the first company to reach $2 trillion valuation in 2016), we’ve taken a look at the secrets behind the extraordinary success with lessons to inspire your own business journey.


For the first time, the umbrella to Google became the newest US company to hit a market cap of US$1 trillion on 16 January 2020.

As Google’s value constantly increases, the golden milestone marks the start of Alphabet’s significant future. But what exactly led the Silicon Valley giant to its incredible success?

trillion dollar companies
Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

While it might be down to turning its name into a verb, its innovative leadership is a huge factor to its ongoing success.

From creating wearable technology to becoming a staple in everyday life, Google focused on innovating first and monetising second.

The company shared 10 rules it made in its early days and many of the philosophies are still relevant today.

“It’s best to do one thing really, really well” is one of the secrets to the Google’s success.

“Through continued iteration on difficult problems, we’ve been able to solve complex issues and provide continuous improvements to a service that already makes finding information a fast and seamless experience for millions of people,” the company shared.

Another key philosophy businessowners can learn from the enterprise is to “focus on the user and all else will follow”.

“Whether we’re designing a new internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line,” it shared online.


The first US company to become a trillion-dollar company reached the historic milestone mid-2018.

The 42-year journey to reach the exclusive club happened seven years after Tim Cook replaced Founder Steve Jobs as CEO.

trillion dollar companies

Now worth US$205.5 billion, according to Forbes, the home of the iPhone has constantly evolved.

Despite having faced many challenges including overcoming the brink of bankruptcy in 1997, the tech giants forged a path in marrying new technology with innovative business models.

From introducing iTunes and the App Store, which drove revenue by encouraging users to consume microcontent, to getting people to constantly upgrade increasingly expensive products, the company has remained a big tech player.

“A true leader will say goodbye to the past and be able to let go completely,” Innosight Senior Partner Scott Anthony told CNBC. “Apple is constantly evolving.

“Apple has never been afraid of being overly constrained by yesterday.”


After first entering the highly esteemed group in April 2019, Microsoft has dipped in and out of the trillion-dollar companies group a few times.

Focusing on cloud computing – a move initiated by CEO Satya Nadella – helped drive the company’s shares to the highest it has been since 1991 before the venture became the third US public company to be valued at over $1 trillion.

trillion dollar companies
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

As the world’s biggest software company, its rise has been exponential since its first 1975 revenue total of US$16,005.

Now a household name across the globe, Microsoft’s valuation is up more than 230% since Nadella came on board in February 2014.

Despite the inspiring achievement, the humble CEO insists it is more important to focus on the future.

“I would be disgusted if somebody ever celebrated our market cap,” Nadella told Bloomberg Businessweek. “(Celebrating the milestone would be) the beginning of the end.”


The ever-diversifying company reached the trillion-dollar market cap for the first time in September 2018.

Constantly disrupting markets, Amazon made it to the golden level five weeks after Apple.

trillion dollar companies
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

And the American multinational technology company could be rejoining the trillion-dollar club later in 2020 according to analysts on Wall Street.

One of the secrets to its trillion-dollar success? Positive visions.

“Vision is absolutely important, but it doesn’t deserve your day-to-day attention,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says according to Business Insider. “You need a vision, then, that’s a touchstone: It’s something you can always come back to if you ever get confused.

“But mostly, your time should be spent on things that are happening today, this year, maybe in the next two or three years.

“I try to organise my personal time so that I live mostly about two to three years out.”


The Chinese oil and gas enterprise became the first company to ever hit a US$1 trillion market cap in 2007.

At the time, it had the highest market capitalisation in corporate history.

trillion dollar companies

Founded in 1999, the Chinese business, which is owned by parent company China National Petroleum Corporation, explores, develops, produces and sells crude oil and natural gas.

A decade after making it to the trillion-dollar club, PetroChina lost US$800 billion of market value due to policy shifts in China, a 44% drop in oil and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan to promote electric vehicles, according to Australian Financial Review .

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