Internet‑based companies generate revenue through online sales, financial transaction fees, paid advertising, cloud services, and a host of other business lines. The years 2016 and 2017 were particularly strong growth years for this sector. The following 10 publicly-traded Internet-based companies topped the list: (note: market caps cited are sourced from respective official reports).

Key Takeaways

  • Internet‑based companies generate revenue through online sales, financial transaction fees, paid advertising, cloud services, and a host of other business lines.
  • The years 2016 and 2017 were particularly strong growth years for this sector.
  • The following 10 publicly-traded Internet-based companies topped the list:
  1. Alphabet Inc.
  2. Amazon
  3. Tencent Holdings
  4. Facebook
  5. Alibaba
  6. Netflix
  7. Priceline
  8. Baidu
  9. Salesforce.com
  10. JD.com
  1. Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): The internet search giant is the world leader in search, contextual advertising, and other online offerings. NASDAQ‑listed Google had a market cap of $763.03 billion as of February 16, 2018. In 2017, its total revenue was $110.86 billion.
  2. 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 a wide swath of products. In 2017, it reported $177.866 billion in revenue. It has a market cap of $707.75 billion as of February 16, 2018.
  3. Tencent Holdings: Based in China, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed Tencent Holdings isn't yet a household name outside of Asia, where it is know for its apps, online games, advertising, and messaging services like WeChat. In 2017, its revenues stood at $21.9 billion, and it boasted a market cap of approximately $535 billion on February 16, 2018. Tencent is available for trading at Nasdaq through American depositary receipts.
  4. 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.
  1. Alibaba (BABA): NYSE‑listed Alibaba made headlines in 2014 when its initial public offering (IPO) became the world's largest IPO ever. The Chinese ecommerce giant had a market cap of $479.43 billion as of February 16, 2018. In 2016, while its revenue was $15.69 billion.
  2. 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 was $121.62 billion as of February 16, 2018. In 2017, its total revenues were $11.69 billion.
  3. Priceline (PCLN): Priceline is the online travel company that lets users book reservations for restaurants, hotels, rental cars, 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.
  4. Baidu (BIDU): While Google is the world's largest online search engine, it has limited reach in China where Baidu prevails, thanks to its ability to offer maps, news, videos, 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 had a market cap of $86.25 billion as of February 16, 2018, and boasted 2016 revenues of $10.16 billion.
  1. 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.
  2. 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 and 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:

Because Internet businesses are highly dynamic, innovation and advances in the tech space mean that new entrants can grow quickly and displace current leaders. Companies can also surge significantly, only to lose steam or fizzle out entirely -- a notorious phenomenon of the 2000 dot-com bubble burst. Investors should, therefore, conduct thorough due diligence before investing in Internet-based companies.