The most successful company founded the year you were born

Posted at 11:29 AM, Apr 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 13:30:04-04

About 50 percent of all businesses fail within five years. Only a quarter make it to the 15-year mark. Even then, the majority of survivors will be small operations, often based in a home.

So it is that companies like Anthem, VISA, Microsoft and Facebook are the extreme exceptions, businesses that not only beat the odds, but went on to become household names, creating thousands of jobs and redefining their industries.

At FindTheCompany, a data site that’s part of the Graphiq network, we went back to 1950 to find the most successful company founded the year you were born. In order to define success, we ranked more than 10,000 companies traded on U.S. exchanges by recent market capitalization (calculated in late March, 2016). A company’s market cap is essentially its total net worth: the number of shares outstanding multiplied by the share price.

Determining the exact founding year for some companies can be difficult, given the frequency of spinoffs, mergers and acquisitions. For this reason, we turned to Field-Ritter, which carefully tracks the history of every business with an IPO from 1975 through the present day. For example, Field-Ritter defaults to the oldest founding year among two merging companies, even if the name of the original company changes.

Most of today’s big companies — even those founded in the ’50s and ’60s — went public in this modern timeframe, but it’s worth mentioning that our dataset might miss a few businesses that IPO’d in the mid 20th century.

Every company on this list is a big success story. Each grew from nothing, maintained a strong market position and created an enduring brand that thrives to this day. We’ll start in the 1950s, then work our way up to 2000.


Coolcaesar / Wikipedia

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc.

Market Cap: $4,246,020,000
Ticker Symbol: DNKN

The company started as a small donut restaurant named “Open Kettle,” but became Dunkin’ Donuts just two years later. Today, the popular donut shop brand also owns the ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins.


Barrett Business Services Inc. /

Barrett Business Services Inc.

Market Cap: $196,690,000
Ticker Symbol: BBSI

This agency finds employees to fill business needs, whether through temporary staffing, contracts or other sourcing.


Zoetis /

Zoetis Inc.

Market Cap: $20,970,000,000
Ticker Symbol: ZTS

Zoetis is the largest provider of medicine and vaccines for pets and livestock.


Fabrice Coffrini / Getty Images

Transocean Inc.

Market Cap: $3,398,760,000
Ticker Symbol: RIG

Started by Southern National Gas Corporation (later, Sonat) in 1952, the company began as an Alabama-based offshore drilling outfit. It was added to the S&P 500 in 2013.


William Lyon Homes Inc. /

William Lyon Homes Inc.

Market Cap: $375,780,000
Ticker Symbol: WLH

William Lyon Homes has been planning and building homes for more than 60 years. The company currently offers services across six states.


Universal Forest Products Inc. /

Universal Forest Products Inc.

Market Cap: $1,656,810,000
Ticker Symbol: UFPI

The company manufactures and sells wood products, from consumer lumber to home-building to commercial construction.


The TJX Companies, Inc.

The TJX Companies Inc.

Market Cap: $52,062,600,000
Ticker Symbol: TJX

Over the years, TJX has come to own classic American brands in apparel and homegoods, ranging from T.J.Maxx to HomeGoods to Marshalls.


M.O. Stevens / Wikipedia

O’Reilly Automotive Inc.

Market Cap: $26,524,100,000
Ticker Symbol: ORLY

What began as a single, modest auto parts store in Springfield, Missouri, has expanded to a massive retail chain with more than 4,500 locations across the U.S.


Don Emmert / Getty Images

Visa Inc.

Market Cap: $161,795,000,000
Ticker Symbol: V

VISA can trace its roots back to Bank of America’s 1958 BankAmericard program. It expanded internationally in 1974. Today, it serves more than 200 countries.


IHS Inc.

IHS Inc.

Market Cap: $8,191,450,000
Ticker Symbol: IHS

The business started as Rogers Publishing Company, which would index product catalogs on microfilm to save space and resources. Today, the company provides data and analysis for decision making in technical industries like defense, aerospace, energy and more.


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Domino’s Pizza Inc.

Market Cap: $6,499,340,000
Ticker Symbol: DPZ

Two brothers borrowed $900 (after a $500 down payment) to buy their first pizza store. Today, it operates more than 12,000 stores worldwide.


Kcida10 / Wikipedia

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

Market Cap: $9,489,930,000
Ticker Symbol: JBHT

Founder J.B. Hunt founded his trucking company with just five trucks and seven trailers. Today, it’s the nation’s largest public trucking company.


Ben Taylor / Graphiq

Plantronics Inc.

Market Cap: $1,271,670,000
Ticker Symbol: PLT

In its early history, Plantronics developed specialized headsets for airline professionals and call center employees. More recently, the company has expanded to all sorts of audio equipment, including gaming and Bluetooth.


Regency Centers / Wikipedia

Regency Centers Corporation

Market Cap: $7,491,820,000
Ticker Symbol: REG

This real estate investment trust mostly focuses on space for shopping centers and office buildings.


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Spirit Airlines Inc.

Market Cap: $3,374,160,000
Ticker Symbol: SAVE

Spirit Airlines began as Clipper Trucking Company in 1964, but transitioned to an airline over the next several decades. Today, it is a low-cost airline with service to 52 destinations.


Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Dolby Laboratories Inc.

Market Cap: $4,200,170,000
Ticker Symbol: DLB

Dolby Laboratories began in 1965. Founder Ray Dolby wanted to develop noise reduction technologies. Today, the company has grown to nearly 2,000 employees and produces audio products and services across the industry.


MasterCard Inc. / Wikipedia

Mastercard Inc.

Market Cap: $101,344,000,000
Ticker Symbol: MA

MasterCard began when a group of California banks created the Interbank Card Association. Today, the company processes transactions for more than 150 currencies.


IlliniGradResearch / Wikipedia

Fastenal Company

Market Cap: $13,993,300,000
Ticker Symbol: FAST

Fastenal began as a small-town fastener shop. Today, the industrial supply company operates nearly 2,700 stores across 50 states and more than 20 countries.


Rusty Russell / Getty Images

HCA Holdings Inc.

Market Cap: $30,252,500,000
Ticker Symbol: HCA

HCA had modest beginnings, with just one hospital (Park View) in the early days. By 2014, the company was operating 168 hospitals and 113 surgery centers.


Chris Hondros / Getty Images

The Gap Inc.

Market Cap: $11,529,000,000
Ticker Symbol: GPS

The Gap began in San Francisco in 1969, but has expanded to other famous brands since. The company purchased Banana Republic in 1983 and launched Old Navy in 1994. To this day, the iconic “1969” founding date appears on several items of Gap clothing.


Vantiv Inc. /

Vantiv Inc.

Market Cap: $10,037,200,000
Ticker Symbol: VNTV

The payment processing and technology provider was the second-largest merchant payment processor in the United States in 2015.


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

FedEx Corporation

Market Cap: $43,535,700,000
Ticker Symbol: FDX

What started as Federal Express Corporation in Little Rock, Arkansas, has expanded to a massive shipping and delivery company. Scientist and web cartoonist Randall Munroe estimates that FedEx’s bandwidth (AKA capability to transfer large amounts of data) is still greater than that of the entire internet.


Cindy Ord / Getty Images

Carnival Corporation

Market Cap: $29,089,800,000
Ticker Symbol: CCL

Carnival Corporation started as the Carnival Cruise Line, but has gone on to become the single largest cruise ship operator in the world. Some estimate Carnival owns a slight majority of the market (52 percent).


Scott Olson / Getty Images

CBOE Holdings Inc.

Market Cap: $5,320,770,000
Ticker Symbol: CBOE

Established by the Chicago Board of Trade, CBOE has grown to become the largest U.S. options exchange.


Tech Data Corporation

Tech Data Corporation

Market Cap: $2,667,230,000
Ticker Symbol: TECD

This IT products and services company started by selling processing supplies for mainframe computers, but has continued to adapt to the advance of technology, including modern-day cloud service solutions.


Bryan Thomas / Getty Images

Microsoft Corporation

Market Cap: $423,464,000,000
Ticker Symbol: MSFT

Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the modest tech geek outfit grew to become the dominant face of consumer and enterprise computing in the 1990s, and remains one of tech’s biggest players to this day.


St. Jude Medical Inc. /

St. Jude Medical Inc.

Market Cap: $15,428,800,000
Ticker Symbol: STJ

St. Jude Medical began by producing artificial heart valves, but has grown into a leading medical device company with customers across the globe.


Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

Apple Inc.

Market Cap: $583,235,000,000
Ticker Symbol: AAPL

Begun by Steve Wozniak (computer programmer) and Steve Jobs (businessman, geek, visionary), Apple sparked at least two revolutions, first in computing (ex: the Apple II), and later, in mobile technology (ex: the iPhone).


Factset Research Systems Inc. / Facebook

Factset Research Systems Inc.

Market Cap: $6,182,800,000
Ticker Symbol: FDS

The data and analysis company set out to help people understand financial information better. Today, the company serves more than 60,000 users.


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Boston Scientific Corporation

Market Cap: $24,324,200,000
Ticker Symbol: BSX

The medical device company wanted to develop less-invasive medicine for patients. Today, the company says it treats 40 patients per minute with Boston Scientific products.


Coolcaesar / Wikipedia

Amgen Inc.

Market Cap: $111,588,000,000
Ticker Symbol: AMGN

Originally Applied Molecular Genetics, AMGen now provides medicine and other biopharmaceutical solutions to more than 75 countries.


Linear Technology Corporation

Linear Technology Corporation

Market Cap: $10,562,300,000
Ticker Symbol: LLTC

Linear Technology Corporation manufactures integrated circuits for use in technology products in a dozen industries, from automative to medical, consumer to military.


Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images


Market Cap: $52,148,300,000
Ticker Symbol: CEO

CNOOC is the largest producer of offshore crude oil and natural gas in China.


Tim Boyle / Getty Images

Costco Wholesale Corporation

Market Cap: $67,027,500,000
Ticker Symbol: COST

Costco began under the name Price Club in a converted airplane hangar in San Diego, although the first official Costco opened in Seattle in 1983. In 2015, it became the second-largest retailer in the world behind Walmart.


Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Cisco Systems Inc.

Market Cap: $140,396,000,000
Ticker Symbol: CSCO

Started by a husband-wife pair at Stanford University, Cisco (which got its name from San Francisco) is now a massive networking solutions company with more than 71,500 employees.


Mark Ralston / Getty Images

Starbucks Corporation

Market Cap: $87,148,800,000
Ticker Symbol: SBUX

Starbucks’ modest origins began in 1971, when two teachers and a writer founded the coffeehouse in Seattle. It wasn’t until the enterprising Howard Schultz bought the chain over a decade later that Starbucks’ modern history started. Today, the coffee shop boasts more than 20,000 locations worldwide, making it the biggest coffee chain in the world.


Celgene Corporation

Celgene Corporation

Market Cap: $77,556,800,000
Ticker Symbol: CELG

This drug manufacturer produces therapies for cancer. In 2013, Forbes named it the No. 2 drug company for financial performance and medical output.


Gilead Sciences Inc.

Gilead Sciences Inc.

Market Cap: $126,379,000,000
Ticker Symbol: GILD

Founded by 29-year-old Michael L. Riordan, Gilead Sciences has grown into a major biopharmaceutical company, selling drugs like Viread and soon, Descovy.


Americasroof / Wikipedia

Blackrock Inc.

Market Cap: $55,233,700,000
Ticker Symbol: BLK

A late-’80s investment management firm, BlackRock now manages more money (approximately $4.6 trillion) than any other investment firm in the world.


mrkathika / Flickr

Accenture PLC

Market Cap: $71,688,900,000
Ticker Symbol: ACN

What started as a consulting division of accounting firm Arthur Andersen has split off to become the world’s biggest consulting firm by revenue.


Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc.

Market Cap: $12,224,500,000
Ticker Symbol: ULTA

After opening a single store in 1990, Ulta Beauty has expanded to become the biggest beauty retailer in the United States, with more than 20,000 individual products.


Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / Wikipedia

Open Text

Market Cap: $6,038,280,000
Ticker Symbol: OTEX

Open Text manages information for companies — often referred to as Enterprise Information Management. Today, the company employs more than 5,000 people.


Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Market Cap: $29,851,100,000
Ticker Symbol: ALXN

Four years after its inception, Alexion went public. Today, the major pharmaceutical company employs more than 3,000 employees and serves patients in 50 countries.


Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Nvidia Corporation

Market Cap: $18,877,900,000
Ticker Symbol: NVDA

Nvidia started out as a standard chip maker, but has expanded its reach to the gaming, visualization, data and auto industries. Nvidia’s GPUs remain a staple in the computing business.


Jeff Spicer / Getty Images Inc.

Market Cap: $273,027,000,000
Ticker Symbol: AMZN

Jeff Bezos left a swanky Wall Street job when he saw the potential of the emerging internet and dreamed up “the everything store.” Today, Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer.


Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

eBay Inc.

Market Cap: $28,430,400,000
Ticker Symbol: EBAY

EBay began as a side project and hobby for entrepreneur and tech geek Pierre Omidyar. With the explosion of e-commerce, however, it rapidly grew to become the go-to website for secondary market shopping (i.e. buying used goods from other users).


Sam Yeh / Getty Images

Chunghwa Telecom

Market Cap: $26,119,300,000
Ticker Symbol: CHT

In an attempt to privatize various businesses, the Taiwanese government spun off Chunghwa Telecom in 1996. Today, it is the country’s largest telecommunications company and it trades on the U.S. stock market.


Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Priceline Group Inc.

Market Cap: $63,858,600,000
Ticker Symbol: PCLN

Known early on for their Name Your Own Price service, Priceline has expanded its brand portfolio to include OpenTable and KAYAK, among others.


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Market Cap: $504,903,000,000
Ticker Symbol: GOOG

When Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin set out to organize the internet’s information, they created Google. It would become the most powerful company on the internet. While the company changed its corporate identity to Alphabet, Google’s core, most successful product remains Search.


Peter Parks / Getty Images Inc.

Market Cap: $192,151,000,000
Ticker Symbol: BABA

Essentially the Chinese version of Amazon, Alibaba actually delivers more packages per year than Amazon, although Amazon still wins on straight-up revenue.


Greg Baker / Getty Images

Baidu, Inc. (ADR)

Market Cap: $64,081,800,000
Ticker Symbol: BIDU

Sometimes considered the Chinese Google, Baidu offers a variety of services, though its Chinese-language search portal is the most popular.