Many of America’s largest and most famous companies were led by their founders for years and even decades. The most well-known of these is Ford Motor Company, founded by Henry Ford, who ran it from 1903 until 1945, when he was forced out by his family. The family continues to control the automaker.
Some of America’s newer companies were run by their founders for years. Bill Gates of Microsoft was CEO from 1975 until 2000. He remains a large shareholder. Some of his contemporaries continue to run the companies they started. Larry Ellison started Oracle in 1983. He remains the company’s board chair.
Some of the largest companies in America are also run by their founders. Mark Zuckerberg is still the head of Facebook, which he founded in 2004. Jeff Bezos remains the chair of Amazon, which he founded in 1994. These companies have grown large enough that these founders are among the richest people in the world.
To determine the largest founder-led company in the Fortune 500, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on Fortune’s website. Fortune ranks public companies by their total revenue per respective fiscal year. Each company on our list was founded by its current CEO and was ranked based on annual revenue.
According to Fidelity Investments, some investors believe that companies led by their founders have a competitive advantage. They believe founders have greater experience running the companies they have established, a stronger drive for success and an “incentive to take the long-view for the business.”
This perception that founder-led companies have an advantage may stem from the fact that these companies tend to be newer and more exciting, capitalizing on the latest innovations. The oldest existing U.S. company, Bank of New York Mellon, which was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1784, is a stuffy stalwart compared to Tesla, the maker of high-tech electric cars at the vanguard of modern automobile electrification.
The largest founder-run company in the Fortune 500 is Amazon. Here are the details:
- CEO (now chair): Jeff Bezos
- Revenue: $386.1 billion
- Fortune 500 rank: number two
- Employees: 1,298,000
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