United Technologies Corporation (UTC)

The future of conglomerates is in the cloud

Illustration of measuring tape wrapped around a briefcase
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

United Technologies is breaking up. General Electric is a shadow of its former self. The great conglomerates of the past, names like ITT and Gulf + Western and Hanson Trust, are dim memories at best.

The bottom line: Maybe the big cloud providers — Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle — are in some way the new conglomerates. They don't own the companies they power, but they deliver impressive and valuable synergies all the same.

The end of industrial conglomerates

Illustration of measuring tape wrapped around a briefcase
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

United Technologies, which announced last week it will split into three separate public companies, is joining the ranks of industrial giants that have decided bigger is not always better.

Between the lines: Industrial conglomerates were formed in the post-WWII era after an antitrust crackdown made it challenging for companies to buy rivals or acquire businesses within their own supply chains. But by the 1990s most began slimming down, and the best-known remaining industrial conglomerates are now determined to shrink (General Electric) or shake off the conglomerate label (3M).