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Expand chart

Data: stockrow.com, Yahoo! Finance; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Microsoft is now neck and neck with Apple for the title of most valuable company in the world.: At market close on Monday, Microsoft was worth $817 billion, just shy of Apple's $829 billion, That comes amid a steady two-year climb for Microsoft and a recent steep drop in Apple's valuation, which topped $1 trillion not long ago.

Bottom line: The story isn't just about the drop in Apple shares, but also the resilience of Microsoft despite having lost its seat at the cool kids' table. This year alone, Microsoft surged past Amazon and Google parent Alphabet.

How is that?: Microsoft has gradually moved from a consumer and business PC company to one that is increasingly focused on the less sexy, but highly profitable data center.

Yes, but: Aren't PC sales flat? They are. But Microsoft has managed to offset that with a fast-growing business in cloud computing. Sales from Windows, even when combined with Surface and Xbox, account for just 36% of revenue, per The Verge.

What they're saying:

  • Bloomberg's Shira Ovide: "Microsoft is the tortoise in a technology world obsessed with hares. We know how that race turned out."
  • Business Insider's Kif Leswing: "The last time Microsoft was more valuable than Apple: The current iPhone was the 3GS. If you wanted to install Windows 7 it came on a CD. Instagram did not yet exist. Barack Obama was finishing out the first half of his first term."

History lesson: Apple and Microsoft have been rivals in the PC world since its early days. When it comes to valuation, though, they have spent most of their history far apart.

  • Apple went public before Microsoft (1980 vs. 1986) but Microsoft quickly eclipsed Apple in value and held the lead for the first two decades or so of the PC era, even having to bail Apple out with a $150 million cash infusion back in August 1997.
  • Buoyed by the iPhone, Apple surged back, overtaking Microsoft. It held the lead continuously over Microsoft until Monday, when Apple briefly dropped below the software giant, before closing at a slightly higher valuation.

But, but, but: The longer view you take, the more you need to think about adjusting for inflation. Today's $800 billion company isn't the same as $800 billion two decades ago.

Bottom line: Market cap is not an indication of innovation, but it does show where Wall Street is placing its bets on the future.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 10 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.