BusinessWeek recently ranked the world's 10 most influential firms. Each continues to thrive in the midst of the current global recession. As you'll see, tech firms are well represented on this list:
Apple – Known as Apple Computer for much of its 33 years, the word Computer was dropped in 2007 to better reflect the company's dominance over how we purchase and listen to music. As many iPhone owners know, the company has already changed how many of us use cell phones.
Unilever – Formed in 1930, this global powerhouse owns 400 brands, so you may be surprised to find a dozen or more of their products in your house today.
JP Morgan Chase – This financial juggernaut, with roots that date back to 1799, recently clawed its way to the top of the U.S. banking heap, partly through fire-sale purchases of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual.
Walmart – Although often polarizing, since 1962 Walmart has exerted ever increasing influence over how we shop, even if you never set foot in one of their stores.
News Corp. – Although primarily known for its ownership of the Fox family of television networks, this conglomerate exerts influence on just about every type of media available, including MySpace, as well as almost countless newspapers, magazines, movies, web sites, and more. It's come a long way since 1979.
Toyota – You may be surprised to learn that Toyota has been making cars since 1936. Just over 70 years later, this company displaced General Motors to become the world's largest automaker.
Saudi Aramco – Although Exxon-Mobile often dominates the headlines, the state-owned national oil company of Saudi Arabia — founded in 1933 — is actually the world's largest oil company.
Monsanto – This biotech giant has been around since 1901, but it is also the world's largest conventional seed producer.
Huawei – Founded in 1988, this private firm is China's largest telecom and networking equipment supplier, and serves 35 of the top 50 telecom operators.
Google – It was just 13 years ago that two students at Stanford University formed what would become the dominant search engine. How did we get by before we could "Google" things we needed to know?
BusinessWeek also ranked 10 firms that it considers "masters of their domain," with little, if any, significant competition:
3M – Founded in 1902, this company is best known for tape, and those ubiquitous yellow pads that we all have on our desks.
AutoDesk - Since 1982 this company has grown into the world's largest design software company. Can you name a software package that competes with AutoCAD?
China Mobile – In just over 12 years this state-owned company has morphed into the world's largest cell-phone provider as ranked by number of subscribers.
Jarden – This 1993 spin-off from the Ball Corporation has scooped up many household brand names, including Sunbeam, Coleman, First Alert, Kerr, Ball, Mr. Coffee, Oster, and more.
Intuit – From its humble beginnings in 1983, this company's savvy marketing has helped to obtain commanding dominance in the small business accounting and personal tax software preparation.
Japan Steel Works – Founded in 1907, this is currently the only company in the world that makes a central piece of nuclear power plants.
Nielsen – This Dutch-American conglomerate launched in 1923 and is known as the preeminent marketing and advertising research firm.
Microsoft – This company was in the right place at the right time in 1975, and until recently provided the operating system of 90 percent of the world's computers.
Sirius XM – The recent marriage of two rivals eliminated direct competition for subscription-based radio in your car, although terrestrial completion still abounds. Satellite radio first became available in 2001.
YKK – In case you were wondering, those little letters on the zipper of your coat stand for Yoshida Kogyo Co., or more specificially, Yoshida Kôgyô Kabushiki-kaisha. Founded in 1932, this company manufactures half of all zippers around the world.
Finally, BusinessWeek noted these up-and-coming influencers:
Li & Fung Ltd. – This Hong Kong-based Company helps retailers and apparel brands find the best sources around the world for their products.
Facebook – You may not have a Facebook page yet, but it's a good bet that at least several people you know do. Like it or not, social networking is here to stay.
HCL Technologies – This Noida, India-based information technology services provider turns the traditional management-employee relationship upside down: managers are accountable to employees. According to BusinessWeek, Harvard Business School professors already use case studies based on this firm.
Craigslist – The barebones look of this site may be off-putting to some, but users post more than 30 million free ads per month, which lead to more than 12 billion page views per month.
SKS Microfinance – This Hyderabad, India financial services company is one of only a few for-profit micro-finance organizations. It's plowing all profits from tiny loans and other services to the poor back into the company, which is enabling it to add hundreds of thousands of new customers each month.