Take into account this reality: Simply 500 corporations—those on this 12 months’s Fortune 500 listing, to be exact—produced sufficient income final 12 months to equal two-thirds of all the financial output of the USA. Take into consideration minute: simply 500 corporations.
These identical American companies offered an astounding $13.7 trillion value of products and providers, a file sum whether or not you measure it in nominal or adjusted for inflation. However focus in on the numbers and also you’ll uncover one thing but extra outstanding: that only a tenth of those corporations account for almost half (48%) of that whole income. Sharpen your microscope a bit extra, and also you’ll see that income among the many group are extra concentrated nonetheless—with a mere 40 corporations accountable for 52% of the mixed earnings. Twenty-seven of those family names earned at the very least $10 billion of their most up-to-date fiscal 12 months. Six, furthermore, are as wealthy as mighty nations, with at the very least $1 trillion in belongings on their stability sheets.
Every year, it appears, America’s greatest corporations look increasingly like a set of matryoshka dolls; corporations technology in the past would have been seen as company titans now seem as in the event that they might be swallowed up as noon snacks by the true behemoths. That’s one of many takeaways from this 12 months’s Fortune 500 rating—the 65th operating of the listing: The massive are getting greater, and the wealthy are getting richer. And, as Erika Fry explores in a gap essay, there are a number of explanation why—from the rise of company ecosystems, to the growing aggressive want for scale, to the power-concentrating impact of information and data know-how.
This identical broad narrative of American enterprise winds by means of the 1000’s of information factors we’ve curated—with some abandon, it might appear—in 45 pages of tables and charts. However maybe extra telling are the implications of that story line—which emerge in every of the options on this problem. Each AT&T (publishing on-line Might 21) and CVS (publishing on-line Might 17) have remade themselves into information-age colossi. The reinvented Ma Bell, writes Fortune’s Geoff Colvin, is relying on huge scale and attain to beat the results of old-economy gravity. (It isn’t precisely working.) CVS, for its half, has mixed with Aetna to grow to be the well being business’s greatest platypus: a drugstore-insurer-pharmacy profit manager-walk-in clinic. As Shawn Tully stories, buyers aren’t shopping for this one both.
The prize of dimension is driving Occidental Petroleum (No. 167 on the listing) to purchase Anadarko (No. 237), so it may well outcompete Chevron (No. 11) within the oil-rich Permian Basin (learn Jen Wieczner’s well timed story). And it’s driving Wayfair right into a wild, loss-leading gambit for e-commerce domination … within the very old-world realm of couches and cupboards. What’s Wayfair spending so ferociously on? Effectively, says Jeffrey O’Brien, the corporate’s 2,300 in-house knowledge geeks ought to provide you with a touch.
Knowledge, after all, could assist an organization get to the highest. However it might not be sufficient to maintain it there. That’s one other—and way more essential—lesson from this 12 months’s Fortune 500.
Take into account the emperor of information itself, Alphabet, which in simply 14 years on the Fortune 500 has leaped from the No. 353 spot (in its erstwhile Google identification) to No. 15 right now. However as Beth Kowitt stories in “Google’s Civil Struggle” (publishing on-line Might 17), the search large goes by means of the sort of rising pains that might solely happen within the fashionable company period: The corporate’s extremely expert and in-demand workforce—who’ve been the engine of its historic development—are actually vocally difficult the technique set by administration.
Our extremely gifted artwork, photograph, and graphics staff helped understand this unfolding story of American enterprise—a story advised within the grandness of the forest and the specificity of every tree—in a collection of journal covers. They embrace the duvet we in the end ran, created by Fortune’s info graphics editor Nicolas Rapp, which reveals in 500 gleaming golden circles a sphere encompassing the entire.
ILLUSTRATION BY NICOLAS RAPP
Artwork director Josue Evilla commissioned the stylized radio tower illustration by Tavis Coburn, which captures the venerable historical past and outsize ambition of AT&T. To focus on Jen’s story on Occidental Petroleum, inventive director Peter Herbert labored with Liverpool-based illustrator Justin Metz to provide the beautiful, twisting gasoline pump proven under.
AT&T COVER BY TAVIS COBURN
OCCIDENTAL COVER BY JUSTIN METZ
Karol Gadzala, primarily based in Hamburg, produced the vivid colorscape to showcase Alphabet. And director of pictures Mia Diehl commissioned our placing cowl of CVS, styled and shot by husband-and-wife duo The Voorhes, in addition to our Wayfair cowl. Within the final, photographer Stephen Lewis and stylist Michele Faro assembled a mélange of dollhouse furnishings right into a “500” that appears oddly fashionable and uncomfortable.
ALPHABET COVER BY KAROL GADZALA
CVS COVER BY THE VOORHES
WAYFAIR BY STEPHEN LEWIS; PROP STYLING MICHELE FAR
Stephen Lewis; Prop styling by Michele Far
Every of those photos, we imagine, tells greater than the story of 1 firm. Every affords a snapshot of the entire. Simply as each good story does.
A model of this text seems within the June 2019 problem of Fortune with the headline “The Prize of Measurement.”