Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Data: FactSet; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The four Big Tech CEOs who will testify before Congress Wednesday command global empires with power and wealth that make them more like countries than companies.

By the numbers: Here are four very large stats for Facebook, Apple, Google/Alphabet and Amazon that tell the story of their value, scale and influence.

$5 trillion: The four companies' (rough) combined market capitalization.

  • That number changes by the day, of course. Apple, with its premium consumer devices, and Google and Facebook, who depend on ad revenue, could be vulnerable to a long-lasting pandemic-driven downturn.
  • But for the time being, they constitute four of the top five most valuable American companies to trade on public markets. (The other one, which is also often considered a member of the Big Tech club, is Microsoft.)
  • Five years ago, the other six companies in the top 10 were worth about 90% of the combined market cap of the big four. Now, they're worth about 75% as much. Even as the market and its most valuable firms have risen dramatically in value, the big four have risen more.

$773 billion: the four companies' combined annual revenue at last count.

Broken out by company, they made the following in fiscal 2019 (also calendar 2019 for all but Apple, whose fiscal year starts with the fourth calendar quarter):

  • Facebook: $70.7 billion, in the same ballpark as Venezuela's gross domestic product.
  • Alphabet: $161.9 billion, a bit north of Ukraine's GDP.
  • Apple: $260.2 billion, close to Vietnam's GDP.
  • Amazon: $280.5 billion, around Pakistan's GDP.

Together, revenue for all four add up to roughly the GDP of Saudi Arabia.

$420 billion: the combined total cash pile of the four firms (per data from FactSet, when they last reported earnings).

That breaks down to about:

  • $49.6 billion for Amazon
  • $60.3 billion for Facebook
  • $117.2 billion for Alphabet
  • $192.8 billion for Apple

Those fat cash hoards give them flexibility to make ambitious internal investments, freedom to buy up potential competitors, the option to juice shareholder value through stock buybacks, and cushioning to weather crises.

4.6 billion: Human beings on earth who are connected to the internet (according to one recent estimate).

These companies all aim to connect anyone who can get online to goods, services and other people. Their scale is limited only by how many people they can reach.

  • The world isn't all open to them, of course. Facebook and Google aren't in China, home to the largest population of internet users in the world. Amazon only operates its core e-commerce platform in certain countries (and has stumbled in efforts to crack into some key markets, including China). And Apple's high-end devices are out of reach for billions of people.

Despite those limits, these companies are operating at a scale that no previous industry has achieved.

  • Google crossed the 2 billion user mark for its G Suite of products (which includes Gmail along with productivity apps like Google Docs) earlier this year. The company's YouTube notched 2 billion monthly active users last year.
  • Facebook had 2.6 billion monthly active users as of Q1 this year.
  • By the end of last year, Apple had 1.5 billion devices in active use by people around the world.
  • Amazon doesn't publicly state how many people have accounts, but CEO Jeff Bezos did reveal in 2018 that the company had passed 100 million Prime customers in the U.S.

Our thought bubble: The big four companies shape people's lives — what goods they can obtain, what media they're exposed to, how they connect with friends and family, how they understand the world. That's a stunning amount of power to entrust to a handful of companies run by a handful of men.

Go deeper

Tech ran from politics, but couldn't hide

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tech companies that entered the 2020 election season hoping to stay out of politics find themselves more embroiled in partisan conflict than ever on Election Day.

Driving the news: Twitter and Facebook have scrambled to make late changes in complex misinformation policies — intended to dampen candidates' premature claims of victory — as they face a barrage of complaints and censorship charges from President Trump and his camp.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Nov 2, 2020 - Technology

Apple announces "One More Thing" press event for Nov. 10

Screenshot: Axios

Apple Monday announced a Nov. 10 press event, most likely to introduce the first Macs that will use Apple-designed processors. Apple had previously said the first Apple-powered Macs would ship later this year.

Why it matters: Shifting the underlying processors in a computer line without hurting sales is a tricky proposition, but Apple has managed through more of these transitions than other computer makers.

Tech platforms' last-minute election rule changes raise risks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Election-related policy changes introduced by tech companies at the last minute will put their efforts to control misinformation in the spotlight over the next few days as the U.S. readies for election results.

Why it matters: Most of the new policies haven't been tested in real time yet, and the platforms have a record of confusion, inconsistency and self-reversal as their rules land on the information battlefield.