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The World’s Largest Technology Companies In 2021: Apple’s Lead Widens As Coinbase, DoorDash Storm Into Ranks

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Boosted by a flurry of monster public-market debuts, a record 177 tech companies landed on this year’s Global 2000, Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s largest public companies. BARCROFT MEDIA VIA GETTY IMAGES

After massive pandemic gains and blockbuster public-market debuts, technology firms tightened their grasp on global business and got bigger than ever over the past year, claiming a record 177 spots on this year’s Global 2000, Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s largest public companies. 

Apple heads up the technology ranks for the sixth-straight year, climbing two spots to No. 6 on the overall list, as surging demand in China helped iPhone sales crush expectations and lifted annual profits to a record $63.9 billion—making Apple the most profitable company in the world. The Silicon Valley firm is also worth more than any other company in the world, boasting a market value of nearly $2.3 trillion when the Global 2000 was tallied on April 16. 

Fellow smartphone-maker Samsung Electronics reclaimed the No. 2 spot in tech after slipping to No. 4 last year, rising five spots to No. 11 overall thanks to a pandemic-led boom in the company’s home appliance sales. Those revenues are expected to remain strong due to the recovering global economy. Despite short-term headwinds to its semiconductor business from a global chip shortage, Samsung posted revenue over the past year of more than $200 billion.

Gallery: The World’s 20 Largest Tech Companies In 202120 imagesView gallery 

Holding steady at No. 13 in the overall list, Alphabet claims the No. 3 spot in tech after sharing the position last year with software giant Microsoft, which slips to No. 4 in tech and No. 15 overall. Both companies shattered Wall Street earnings expectations over the past year, but Alphabet’s dominance in the digital ad space helped its profit soar nearly 17% to $40.3 billion, outpacing Microsoft’s earnings growth of about 11%.

Internet giant Tencent rounds out the top five with its highest placing yet, jumping 21 spots to land at No. 29 overall. The only Chinese company among the world’s 20 largest tech firms, Tencent posted the biggest sales and profit gains out of any firm in the top 20. Another beneficiary of the booming digital ad market, annual sales soared 28% to nearly $70 billion, while profits skyrocketed 72% to $23.3 billion.

The year’s highest debut is Chinese fintech Lufax, one of more than two dozen tech newcomers on the Global 2000. Like many others appearing for the first time, Lufax lands on the list after a highly anticipated public-market debut. The digital lender raised $2.2 billion in October and now sports a $40 billion market cap, ranking No. 500 overall and No. 40 for tech.

Crypto exchange Coinbase marks the biggest debut for a U.S. firm after its direct listing in April briefly catapulted its market cap to more than $100 billion. It’s joined by a crop of other buzzy young American firms that are new to this year’s list after going public in the last two years, including delivery service DoorDash, online photo-sharing board Pinterest and cloud companies Snowflake, Datadog and Crowdstrike.

In total, about 81 of the world’s largest tech companies are based in the United States, far more than any other country. China, Japan and Taiwan are other tech hotspots, claiming stake to 26, 15 and 13 companies on the list, respectively.

Altogether, the technology companies on Forbes‘ Global 2000 come from 22 different nations and represent a staggering $17.9 trillion in market value—surging 73% year over year to nearly a third of the value of the entire U.S. stock market. The firms posted nearly $3.3 trillion in combined annual sales, up from about $3 trillion last year, when 161 tech companies made the list. Assets and profits also swelled, climbing 19% and 11%, respectively, to $5.2 trillion and $434.7 billion.

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