A Collection of Articles

50 Smartest Companies 2016

Our editors pick the 50 companies that best combine innovative technology with an effective business model.

  • June 21, 2016

Each year we identify 50 companies that are “smart” in the way they create new opportunities. Some of this year’s stars are large companies, like Amazon and Alphabet, that are using digital technologies to redefine industries. Others are wrestling with technological changes: companies like Microsoft, Bosch, Toyota, and Intel. Also on the list are ambitious startups like 23andMe, a pioneer in consumer-accessible DNA testing; 24M, a reinventor of battery technology; and Didi Chuxing, a four-year-old ride-hailing app that’s beating Uber in the Chinese market. Still, despite the excitement of recent advances in such fields as artificial intelligence and genomic medicine, technology has failed to energize the overall economy. In our opening essay, we explore why that is so and what needs to change.

1

Amazon

  • Headquarters Seattle, Washington
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $337 billion

Last year we included Amazon on our list of the 50 Smartest Companies for incorporating robots into its fulfillment centers. This year the standout is the surprising success of its Alexa Voice Service and the growing family of devices it powers (the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap). Alexa makes it easy to search the Web, play music, and adjust your lights and thermostat—just by speaking inside your home. Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud-computing operation, also deserves notice as the industry leader and Amazon’s fastest-growing and most profitable division.

$89.99 What the Echo Dot, the most affordable device to feature Alexa Voice Service, sells for.

Related Stories

2

Baidu

  • Headquarters Beijing, China
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $55 billion

Outside its core business of Internet search and ad sales, Baidu is doing notable work on speech recognition and conversational interfaces. In 2015, it announced the development of a speech recognition engine called Deep Speech 2 that uses deep learning to recognize spoken words, sometimes more accurately than a person can. Baidu conducts AI research in part to improve its products and services and better compete with rivals such as Alibaba and Tencent. The company is also aggressively pursuing the autonomous-car market and recently established a team in Silicon Valley to lead research and engineering in computer vision, robotics, and sensors, among other areas.

100 Baidu plans to employ more than 100 autonomous-car researchers and engineers in California by year’s end.

Related Stories

3

Illumina

  • Headquarters San Diego, California
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $20 billion

The world’s largest DNA-sequencing company hopes to expand its technology’s role in diagnosing illness. This year it formed a new company to develop blood tests that cost $1,000 or less and can detect many types of cancer before symptoms arise, greatly improving the chances of survival. The spinoff, called Grail, is being headed by Jeff Huber, a former senior Google executive who lost his wife to colon cancer. The testing concept, sometimes called a “liquid biopsy,” uses Illumina’s high-speed sequencing machines to scour a person’s blood for fragments of DNA released by cancer cells.

$2.2 billion Revenue reached last year, up 19 percent from the previous year.

Related Stories

4

Tesla Motors

  • Headquarters Palo Alto, California
  • Industry Transportation
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $28 billion

Tesla topped this list last year for its plan to extend its battery technology from cars to residential and commercial applications. This year, Tesla’s Autopilot technology stands out for the way it integrates feedback from a camera, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and GPS to aid drivers on highways, help them avoid collisions, and assist them in parking. Besides advancing semi-autonomous driving, Tesla is also making electric vehicles more accessible by introducing its most affordable car yet, the $35,000 Model 3.

50 percent According to CEO Elon Musk, drivers have a 50 percent lower chance of having an accident when driving with Tesla Autopilot.

Related Stories

5

Aquion Energy

  • Headquarters Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Industry Energy
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $190 million raised

Aquion continues to raise money for its innovative batteries, which have made it a successful startup in a notoriously tough industry. Investors include Bill Gates and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as well as the corporate venture capital arms of energy industry giants Shell and Total. Invented by Carnegie Mellon professor Jay Whitacre, the batteries are made with nontoxic materials that can provide long-term storage of energy from solar, wind, and other intermittent sources at a very low cost. Whitacre says the company’s been disciplined in its development of a manufacturing process, basing it on existing models and materials to improve its chance of working.

Backers Include Bill Gates, Shell.

Related Stories

6

Mobileye

  • Headquarters Jerusalem, Israel
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $8 billion

How can automakers compete with companies developing self-driving vehicles, such as Google parent Alphabet? One increasingly popular option is to partner with Mobileye, which makes machine vision systems and motion detection algorithms that warn drivers when they are deviating from driving lanes or about to collide with cars in front of them. Mobileye is already working on autopilot and collision avoidance technology for Audi, BMW, General Motors, Nissan, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo and recently inked an agreement with two undisclosed automakers to provide systems for fully autonomous cars.

600 Number of employees who are annotating the images used to train its autonomous driving system.

Related Stories

7

23andMe

  • Headquarters Mountain View, California
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Private
  • Valuation $1.1 billion valuation

Now focused on getting its customers to share their data with medical researchers, 23andMe has partnered with leading medical centers, including Stanford and Mount Sinai. To date, the company has gathered DNA from more than one million customers, more than 80 percent of whom they say are participating in research.

One million The company has sequenced the DNA of more than one million customers.

Related Stories

8

Alphabet

  • Headquarters Mountain View, California
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $491 billion

Google parent company Alphabet pursues many projects, including a number of riskier “moon shot” technologies, but its ventures into AI and autonomous driving are the standouts. Earlier this year, DeepMind—which is part of Google—attracted global attention for beating a world champion player at the game Go. The matchup revealed the sophistication of its AI technology. Alphabet also continues to work on fully autonomous cars and recently signed a deal to incorporate its technology into Chrysler minivans—its first partnership with a major automaker.

1.6 million Number of miles Alphabet’s autonomous cars have driven so far.

Related Stories

9

Spark Therapeutics

  • Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $918 million

The company’s focus is on developing one-time, life-altering treatments for debilitating genetic diseases, a whole new model of personalized, precise treatment. Many of its key personnel come from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and their work focuses on finding treatments for rare diseases where no or only palliative therapies exist currently.

Collaborators Corporate collaborators have included Pfizer, Genable Technologies, and Clearside Biomedical.

Related Stories

10

Huawei

  • Headquarters Shenzhen, China
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available

Huawei has been selling cell phones for more than a decade and smartphones since 2009, but it long struggled to break into the premium-device and U.S. markets. Its 2015 launch of the Nexus 6P phone, which it co-designed and manufactured for Google, showed it can make high-end, high-quality smartphones. Continued strength in entry-level devices, coupled with growing clout in more expensive phones, helped Huawei grow smartphone shipments 58 percent year-over-year and become the no. 3 smartphone vendor worldwide.

27.5 million Number of smartphones Huawei shipped in the first quarter of 2016, according to market researcher IDC.

Related Stories

11

First Solar

  • Headquarters Tempe, Arizona
  • Industry Energy
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $5 billion

First Solar designs and manufactures solar panels using a low-cost thin-film semiconductor technology and also develops solar farms that utilities can use. It differs from many solar companies in that it is in the black, making $546 million in profit in 2015 on nearly $3.6 billion in revenue.

$546 million Profits earned in 2015.

Related Stories

12

Nvidia

  • Headquarters Santa Clara, California
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $22 billion

A number of chip makers are targeting the autonomous-car market, and Nvidia is distinguishing itself by offering an entire platform and accompanying software development kit for self-driving cars. The platform uses AI to give vehicles “360° situational awareness.” Nvidia says that more than 50 automakers (including Audi, BMW, Ford, and Tesla), suppliers, developers, and research institutions are experimenting with the platform. Nvidia is also using its strength in gaming graphics chips to move into the VR market and released a platform (chip module plus developer kit) for drones last year.

$1.3 billion Revenue increased 13 percent in the most recent quarter, to $1.3 billion, compared with $1.15 billion a year ago.

Related Stories

13

Cellectis

  • Headquarters New York City, New York
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $1 billion

Cellectis is scheduled to do a formal trial of its engineered immune cells as a leukemia treatment as soon as this year. This field of immune engineering was one of our 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2016, and Cellectis is shaping its early development.

$300 million Though not profitable, the company has over $300 million in cash, enough to last through 2018.

Related Stories

14

Enlitic

  • Headquarters San Francisco, California
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $15 million raised

Enlitic produces deep-learning software that can analyze x-rays. It’s being tested by radiologists in Australia, which will be key to establishing how well it can help doctors make diagnoses and design treatments. The recent departure of its founder Jeremy Howard, well known in the machine-learning field, seems to pose a challenge for the company, but new leadership asserts that applications of its algorithms will soon expand to the detection of lung cancer and bone fractures.

50 percent Claims its algorithm read chest CT images 50 percent more accurately than experts in its own test.

Related Stories

15

Facebook

  • Headquarters Menlo Park, California
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $345 billion

Facebook continues to develop its mobile advertising business and refine its mobile apps, but the Oculus Rift is its most exciting technology right now. Following years of anticipation, the virtual-reality headset was released in late March.

$599 Rift sells for $599.

Related Stories

16

SpaceX

  • Headquarters Hawthorne, California
  • Industry Transportation
  • Status Private
  • Valuation $12 billion

If spaceflight were more affordable, more missions could be flown, more scientific discoveries could be made, and new business opportunities could open up. SpaceX has figured out the first step toward driving down costs by landing its rocket boosters on ships after sending them into space. Retrieving rockets makes it possible to reuse them. SpaceX plans to eventually schedule launches every few weeks.

Four Number of times SpaceX attempted to land a rocket on a barge before succeeding.

Related Stories

17

Toyota

  • Headquarters Toyota City, Japan
  • Industry Transportation
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $152 billion

The Toyota Research Institute will study the future of mobility, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Other recent forward-looking moves include the launch of Mirai, a hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle for the mass market. Mirai has a range of over 300 miles and emits only water vapor. Toyota is now working on developing a network of affordable hydrogen fuel stations.

Leader Roboticist Gill Pratt is CEO of the Toyota Research Institute.

Related Stories

18

Airware

  • Headquarters San Francisco, California
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $70 million raised

Airware is already one of the biggest drone startups, having raised more than $70 million in venture funding, and it is poised to become much bigger. Rather than actually making drones, it provides a control system for any type of drone.

Leader Airware’s founder and CEO also leads an investment fund that supports businesses creating technologies for commercial drones.

Related Stories

19

IDE Technologies

  • Headquarters Kadima, Israel
  • Industry Energy
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available (owned in equal parts by publicly traded Delek Group and Israel Chemical)

Its large-scale desalination process is finding more customers. In the U.S. IDE won the job of reactivating a mothballed plant in Santa Barbara, California, and its prospects look strong as long as extracting salt from water to make it potable continues to be economical. Demand will certainly be there: worldwide, some 700 million people don’t have access to enough clean water, and that number is expected to explode to 1.8 billion by 2025.

30 percent By October IDE will be producing 30 percent of Santa Barbara’s water.

20

Tencent

  • Headquarters Shenzhen, China
  • Industry Transportation
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $193 billion

Tencent is Asia’s largest Internet company, with a well-used Web portal and a messaging app, WeChat, that is China’s largest. The company recently branched into the enterprise market by launching a business-focused version of WeChat that facilitates communication (messages, phone calls, e-mails) between colleagues, as well as employee expense reports and other record-keeping. Since Tencent derives most of its revenue from online and smartphone games, it has also been investing in mobile-games companies, including the U.S. firms Glu Mobile, and Pocket Gems. It recently bought Riot Games, which makes the hit League of Legends.

78 percent Tencent’s largest business segment, mostly games, accounts for 78 percent of its revenue.

Related Stories

21

Didi Chuxing

  • Headquarters Beijing, China
  • Industry Transportation
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Reported valuation $28 billion

Chinese roads are jammed, and a rise in car ownership has led to a jump in people interested in part-time driving work, but competition with Uber has been fierce. Uber and Didi are battling for market share by paying drivers subsidies to pick up rides. Didi claims its drivers complete 14 million rides a day to Uber’s one million. The company’s ambitions don’t end at China’s borders. It has partnerships in India and Southeast Asia, including stakes in Lyft and Indian ride-share app Ola.

14 million Number of rides its drivers complete a day.

Related Stories

22

Oxford Nanopore

  • Headquarters Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $355 million raised

Its sequencer is small and portable—greatly expanding its applications and market—because it analyzes DNA by drawing the molecules through tiny, delicate pores. The platform, which went on sale in 2015 and is enough of a threat to competitor Illumina to draw a lawsuit, can analyze DNA, RNA, proteins, and other types of molecules. Potential applications include scientific research, personalized medicine, food safety, crop science, and security and defense. It will soon be tested in space.

Intellectual property Illumina, once an investor, is now suing the company for patent infringement.

Related Stories

23

24M

  • Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Industry Energy
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $50 million raised

Lithium-ion batteries power everything from smartphones and tablets to electric cars and buses. They are expensive, however, and cumbersome to manufacture. Startup 24M developed a new design and manufacturing process that will cut costs. The battery industry is striving to produce batteries that cost $100 per kilowatt-hour or less, and 24M says its batteries will cross that threshold sooner than competitors—by 2020.

50 percent The company claims it can reduce the cost of lithium-ion batteries by 50 percent.

Related Stories

24

Alibaba

  • Headquarters Hangzhou, China
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $192 billion

Alibaba, which runs an eBay-like store, a popular virtual mall, and other e-commerce services, is now the world’s largest online marketplace as measured by annual gross merchandise volume. The growth of mobile and video ads also favors Alibaba, which already dominates the Chinese mobile-ad market and recently acquired Youku Tudou, China’s largest online video service. Beyond China, Alibaba has become a backer of other technology companies. In the past year, it invested in Groupon, Magic Leap, and Snapchat in the U.S., as well as the Indian payments and commerce business Paytm and Singapore’s national postal and logistics company, SingPost.

$485 billion Gross value of merchandise sold through Alibaba in its last fiscal year.

Related Stories

25

Bristol-Myers Squibb

  • Headquarters New York City, New York
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $119 billion

Leads in cancer immunotherapy, working on “checkpoint inhibitors" for numerous forms of cancer. Opdivo, one of two inhibitors the company markets, works by allowing immune-system T cells to attack cancer. It’s approved for skin, lung, and kidney cancer, and when successful, the treatments appear to have enabled patients’ immune systems to eradicate their tumors. It is expensive, however, and that has caused issues with European regulators.

Five years One-third of patients with advanced melanoma survived for five years in a study of Opdivo.

Related Stories

26

Microsoft

  • Headquarters Redmond, Washington
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $405 billion

When we included Microsoft on last year’s list for its HoloLens augmented-reality technology, the system had not yet shipped. Now a preproduction “Developer Edition” is available and Microsoft is starting to use it for augmented-reality experiences. Attempting to switch its focus from desktop software to cloud and mobile services, and having recently announced a mammoth $26 billion purchase of business social network LinkedIn, the company is also pushing forward with innovative research, including some on deep neural networks that it has incorporated into Skype for simultaneous language translation. The research will also be applied to a variety of computer vision tasks.

152 A Microsoft network that won a global image recognition contest in 2015 used 152 layers of virtual neurons.

Related Stories

27

Fanuc

  • Headquarters Oshino-mura, Japan
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $30 billion

Fanuc began as part of Fujitsu and is the world’s largest maker of industrial robots. It recently announced a novel technology that will connect robots to networks so factory owners can download apps to them. In June 2015, Fanuc also partnered with a Japanese machine-learning company to create artificial-intelligence technology that enables its robots to learn skills independently.

Eight Number of hours a Fanuc robot needs to learn a task with 90 percent accuracy.

Related Stories

28

Sonnen

  • Headquarters Wildpoldsried, Germany
  • Industry Energy
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, more than $20 million raised, including GE Ventures’ recent investment

Its system connects homes with solar panels to lithium batteries in a storage system it calls a virtual power plant, offering consumers electricity that is 25 percent cheaper than power from the grid. The company’s new trading platform gives German homeowners a way to both purchase power and sell excess solar power across the utility grid.

25 percent Electricity on its system is 25 percent cheaper than the electricity on the grid, according to the company.

Related Stories

29

Improbable

  • Headquarters London, United Kingdom
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $22 million raised

The company, which came out of work done originally when the founders were students at the University of Cambridge, is developing an environment for building virtual worlds at a new scale and complexity. With advances in robotics and driverless cars, such simulations have become more important as a testing ground. Improbable’s technology allows large amounts of information to be shared between multiple servers nearly instantaneously, which is appealing to gaming developers looking to allow many players to experience a virtual world together.

Funding Andreessen Horowitz is a major backer.

Related Stories

30

Movidius

  • Headquarters San Mateo, California
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $90 million raised

Movidius makes chips for computer-vision applications, which will be necessary to develop smarter mobile devices and drones. Google’s Tango tablet uses Movidius chips, as does DJI’s Phantom 4 drone. Movidius also recently announced a new chip geared for augmented and virtual reality.

On the radar Drones using Movidius technology can sense obstacles to avoid collisions.

Related Stories

31

Intrexon

  • Headquarters Germantown, Maryland
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $3 billion

Its Oxitec division’s genetically engineered mosquito, which yields offspring that die quickly, has been released in Grand Cayman and parts of Brazil in an attempt to reduce the spread of Zika and other diseases. In March, the World Health Organization recommended a pilot deployment of Oxitec’s solution. The company has been buying up companies specializing in synthetic biology in a variety of applications, but it has not been transparent about how its technology works, leading to some negative speculation about the company.

$174 million Acquisitions increased sales from $8 million to $174 million in five years.

Related Stories

32

Carbon

  • Headquarters Redwood City, California
  • Industry Energy
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $141 million raised

Carbon has developed a new technique based on stereolithography that it says is as much as 100 times faster than rivals’ 3-D printing methods and fast enough to be used in place of injection molding to produce certain parts. Carbon will face competition from HP, which has its own new printing technology based on a different class of materials. But the startup is backed by some high-powered investors, including Google Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Silver Lake Kraftwerk, and its board members include the former CEOs of Ford and DuPont.

$40,000 Use of its 3-D printers costs $40,000 a year.

Related Stories

33

Bosch

  • Headquarters Stuttgart, Germany
  • Industry Transportation
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available

Bosch’s vision for an industrial Internet of things starts with manufacturing facilities that are becoming increasingly connected and automated, a way to increase productivity in an era of global competition and relatively high domestic wages. The company estimates that by 2020 technologies like connected assembly lines, predictive maintenance, and machines that can do some self-monitoring will combine to boost company revenue by more than $1 billion while saving a comparable amount in operational expenses.

$80 billion Record revenue generated in 2015.

Related Stories

34

T2 Biosystems

  • Headquarters Lexington, Massachusetts
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $201 million

T2 Biosystems has begun selling its technology for detecting the pathogenic fungus Candida, an often deadly infection. The test is run in three to five hours, as opposed to two to six days, and today 16 hospitals use it.

35 Number of customers who now use the company’s bench-top diagnostic system.

Related Stories

35

Editas Medicine

  • Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $1 billion

A pioneer of the controversial and exciting CRISPR gene-editing technology, Editas intends to begin testing a new form of gene repair in humans in 2017. The idea is to use CRISPR to cut out the genetic mutation that causes Leber’s congenital amaurosis, a rare retinal disease that leads to blindness, so the cell can repair itself with a normal version. Though CRISPR technology was invented just a few years ago, it is so precise and cheap to use that it has quickly become a tool in biology laboratories.

$94 million Money raised in its February IPO, and the stock is up 85 percent since then.

Related Stories

36

Nestlé

  • Headquarters Vevey, Switzerland
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $238 billion

Food giant Nestlé has jumped into microbiome research, working to develop “healthy gut” products for its Health Science division. Among its bets on nutritional therapies, the company has made repeated investments in Seres Therapeutics, most recently investing $120 million in the company to support its efforts to develop medicines aimed at the bacteriological balance in the digestive tract. The first experimental treatments are focused on Clostridium difficile infection and inflammatory bowel disease.

$2 billion At a slow time for its core food business, its nutritional therapies division has reached $2 billion in annual revenue in its first five years, and more strong growth is predicted.

Related Stories

37

RetroSense Therapeutics

  • Headquarters Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $12 million raised

Its therapy uses optogenetics, a technology that uses a combination of gene therapy and light to precisely control nerves. In its treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, the eye is injected with viruses carrying DNA from light-sensitive algae; this is intended to confer light sensitivity on certain nerve cells in the eye.

$12 million Revenue raised from foundations and private investors as well as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Related Stories

38

Line, subsidiary of Naver

  • Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Private
  • Valuation expected to be more than $5 billion

Line’s growth has slowed, but it is still a leader among the world’s messaging apps when it comes to making money from its users. The company steadily introduces new features, such as chatbot functionality for corporate marketing campaigns and group calls for up to 200 people. (In comparison, Skype limits group calls to 25 people.) In its home market of Japan, Line offers taxi booking inside its app and will soon provide phone service through a deal with Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo. Its IPO expected later this year could value the company at more than $5 billion.

218 million Number of monthly active users.

39

TransferWise

  • Headquarters London, United Kingdom
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Private
  • Valuation $1.1 billion

TransferWise matches people who looking to make currency trades around the world, at much lower fees than traditional institutions. It has already captured 5 percent of the U.K.’s money-transfer market and recently expanded to the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Mexico, among other places. Its goal of disrupting multinational banks and Western Union has attracted investments from Andreessen Horowitz and Richard Branson, among others.

$750 million Money TransferWise helps users exchange every month.

Related Stories

40

Veritas Genetics

  • Headquarters Danvers, Massachusetts
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Not available

By making whole-genome sequencing and interpretation affordable, Veritas gives patients and doctors a fuller picture than what’s possible with common genetic tests, improving their diagnostic value. The company also offers cancer screening tests for $199 to $299.

$1,000 Whole-genome sequencing, including interpretation and counseling, costs under $1,000. The supply is limited to 5,000 customers in 2016.

Related Stories

41

FireEye

  • Headquarters Milpitas, California
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $2 billion

The company’s security system can be updated at any time to defend against constantly mutating cyber threats. It also encourages clients to focus on quickly resolving attacks, not just trying to avoid them. FireEye has grown to a significant size in an often fragmented industry, and it’s been hired to investigate high-profile cybersecurity failures at JPMorgan Chase, Sony Pictures, and Target.

In the works New products focus on securing public and private clouds and detecting targeted e-mail attacks.

Related Stories

42

Seven Bridges

  • Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $45 million raised

Its bioinformatics software platform runs one of the world’s largest genomic data sets, the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Genome Atlas. This gives cancer researchers worldwide immediate access to a petabyte of patient data and computational resources to analyze it, facilitating research collaboration. Seven Bridges is also analyzing data from the 100,000 genomes collected by the British National Health Service. The company’s long-term vision is to support drug research and the practice of precision medicine customized to each patient.

11,000 Number of patients that have contributed 33 cancer types and subtypes to its Cancer Genomics Cloud.

Related Stories

43

Slack

  • Headquarters San Francisco, California
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Private
  • Valuation $4 billion

In the past year, Slack’s number of daily users increased from 750,000 to three million. During that time, the company rolled out voice calls as a beta feature and launched a directory for third-party apps, an $80 million fund to invest in Slack developers, and a toolkit for creating chatbots. It also introduced a “Sign In with Slack” feature that lets business users sign up for apps using their Slack identity credentials. The momentum helped Slack raise $200 million more in funding, for a current total of $540 million, at a valuation of $3.8 billion.

Three million Number of daily active Slack users.

Related Stories

44

Coupang

  • Headquarters Seoul, South Korea
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Private
  • Valuation $5 billion

Originally a Groupon clone, Coupang is now widely viewed as the Amazon.com of Korea. Like Amazon, it is betting on same-day delivery as an amenity to lure consumers. It has invested millions in a sophisticated logistics system that spans warehouses, trucks, thousands of delivery people, and proprietary algorithms to link everything together. Coupang is also focused on making it easier and more compelling to buy items via smartphone. The aggressive approach brought in $1 billion in funding from Japan’s SoftBank last year.

$5 billion Coupang’s most recent valuation.

45

IBM

  • Headquarters Armonk, New York
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $142 billion

IBM remains in turnaround mode. It has suffered 16 consecutive quarters of declining sales but continues to invest in cloud computing and analytics. Part of that investment involves buying up companies such as Truven Health Analytics and the Weather Company. The purchases come with huge data sets IBM can use to train its AI system, Watson.

100 Number of clients that have built Watson into a product.

Related Stories

46

Snapchat

  • Headquarters Los Angeles, California
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Private
  • Valuation $20 billion

Snapchat is still experimenting with innovative new content, which was the reason it made this list last year. This year, Snapchat’s most significant moves relate to expanding its advertising business. Advertisers value Snapchat as a way to reach consumers aged 13 to 34, but they have criticized the company for charging high rates without sharing much data about ads’ performance. Snapchat recently addressed these concerns by signing deals that let Viacom sell ads on its behalf and allow Nielsen to supply campaign data to advertisers.

10 billion Number of videos that are seen on the app every day.

Related Stories

47

Africa Internet Group

  • Headquarters Lagos, Nigeria
  • Industry Internet & Digital Media
  • Status Private
  • Valuation $1 billion

Africa Internet Group (AIG) was founded by the German tech incubator Rocket Internet in 2012 and runs an array of e-commerce companies throughout Africa. Its flagship business is the online retailer Jumia, which it says is Africa’s largest e-commerce mall. It also owns the continent’s leading hotel booking portal and classified-ad marketplaces for cars and real estate. Besides Rocket Internet, AIG has funding from Axa, Goldman Sachs, and two large telecommunications companies: MTN Group and Orange. Though it is not yet profitable, investors view AIG as a way to access Africa’s developing online economy

26 Africa Internet Group operates in 26 African countries.

Related Stories

48

LittleBits

  • Headquarters New York City, New York
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Private
  • Valuation Valuation not available, $62 million raised

Its mostly open-source building kits are now for sale at Barnes & Noble, and the company has added new executives from Lego and MakerBot.

$299 Basic kits sell for $99 to $299.

Related Stories

49

Intel

  • Headquarters Santa Clara, California
  • Industry Computing & Communications
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $140 billion

Despite its long domination of the PC chip market, Intel has struggled to keep ahead of customer demands, particularly the drive for mobile computing. Now the company is trying to find better footing in new domains such as the cloud and Internet-connected devices, experimenting with reprogrammable processors for deep neural networks, and moving a fundamentally new kind of computer memory to market.

$16.7 billion Money Intel spent to buy Altera, a maker of programmable logic devices.

Related Stories

50

Monsanto

  • Headquarters St. Louis, Missouri
  • Industry Biotech
  • Status Public
  • Valuation $44 billion

Monsanto is using RNA interference to create alternatives to conventional genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Already able to kill bugs by getting them to eat leaves coated with specially designed RNA, the company is now trying to develop sprays that penetrate plant cells to block certain plant genes. Potential applications include ideas like a spray that causes tomatoes to taste better or one that helps plants survive a drought. In May, Bayer made a $62 billion offer for the company, which Monsanto turned down, though management did indicate an openness to discussing further offers.

$1.5 billion Money invested last year in research on new biotech traits, genomics, and more.

Related Stories