Internet‑based companies revolutionized business by connecting with consumers and end users through the Internet. Such companies generate revenue through online sales, fees on online financial transactions, online searches accompanied by paid advertising, online advertising, social media accompanied by paid advertising, fees on online services (such as travel services), and charges for cloud computing (for related reading see Introduction to the Internet Industry).
We have compiled a list of the top 10 Internet-based companies. All are listed on stock exchanges. We used the current-day market cap to rank the companies. Annual revenue figures are from 2016 and 2017 are sourced from respective official reports.
- Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): The internet search giant is the world leader in search, contextual advertising, and other online offerings. NASDAQ‑listed Google has a market cap of $763.03 billion as of February 16, 2018. In 2017, its total revenue was $110.86 billion.
- Amazon (AMZN): Nasdaq‑listed Amazon launched in 1995 as an online bookseller and has since diversified to become the largest U.S. Internet-based retailer of all things. In 2017, it reported $177.866 billion in revenue. It has a market cap of $707.75 billion as of February 16, 2018.
- Tencent Holdings: Based in China and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Tencent is not yet a well-known name outside of Asia. There, it has a significant presence in apps, online games, advertising, and messaging services like WeChat, which is similar to WhatsApp and has millions of users. In 2017, its revenues stood at $21.9 billion. It has a market cap of approx. $535 billion as of February 16, 2018. Tencent Holdings is available for trading at Nasdaq through American depositary receipt.
- Facebook (FB): NASDAQ‑listed Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking site. In October 2014, it acquired WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion and has also made many other relatively smaller acquisitions. Facebook reported a total revenue of $40.65 billion in 2017. Its market cap stands at $521.4 billion as of February 16, 2014.
- Alibaba (BABA): NYSE‑listed Alibaba made headlines in 2014 when its initial public offering (IPO) became the largest ever IPO in the world. The Chinese ecommerce giant has a market cap of $479.43 billion as of February 16, 2018. In 2016, its revenue was $15.69 billion.
- Netflix (NFLX): Netflix is an entertainment company that provides video streaming services. It has a network of over 117 million members across more than 190 countries. Its market cap is $121.62 billion as of February 16, 2018. In 2017, its total revenues were $11.69 billion.
- Priceline (PCLN): Priceline is the online travel company offering restaurant reservations (through OpenTable); hotel room reservations, rental car reservations, airline tickets, safaris, cruises, and other travel services through priceline.com, booking.com and agoda.com. It has a market cap of $88.683 billion as of February 14, 2018. In 2016, its total revenues were $10.74 billion.
- Baidu (BIDU): While Google is the world leader in online search, it has limited reach in China where Baidu is the number one search engine. Baidu offers maps, news, videos, an encyclopedia, anti-virus software, and Internet TV. It is listed in the Cayman Islands and is known to restrict search results to comply with Chinese laws and political directives. Its American depositary receipt is listed on Nasdaq. It has a market cap of $86.25 billion as of February 16, 2018 and 2016 revenues of $10.16 billion.
- Salesforce.com (CRM): This giant in enterprise cloud computing and social enterprise solutions is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It has a market cap of $81.76 billion as of February 16, 2018. In 2016, its total revenues were $8.39 billion.
- JD.com (JD): Nasdaq-listed JD.com is a Chinese e-commerce company headquartered in Beijing. It is one of the largest B2C online platforms in China, a member of the Fortune Global 500. Its market cap is $66.83 billion as of February 16, 2018. In 2016, its total revenues were $37.63 billion.
The Bottom Line:
Internet business is highly dynamic. Innovation and advances in technology mean that new entrants can grow quickly and displace leading companies. Companies can also surge and then quickly disappear. Some giant veterans continue to maintain top slots, though maturing companies generally struggle to sustain innovation. Investment in Internet companies can be risky (remember the 2000 internet bubble burst). Investors should conduct due diligence before making investments in Internet-based companies.