2018 Is a Milestone Year for Influential Companies Including Google, Tesla and Airbnb
Many of companies that shape our daily lives have been around for decades, founded before widespread use of the internet, smartphones and social media thrust us into the era of digital connectivity.
This year marks the 50th anniversaries of Intel, Imax and the day the first Boeing 747 rolled off the production line. (The jet airliner retired this year.) It’s also the 35th anniversary of the founding of AOL (then Control Video Corporation) and the 60th anniversary of Visa and consumer credit cards.
Looking back 100 years, 1918 was a momentous year: World War I ended and the Spanish Flu pandemic broke out. Meanwhile, Panasonic was founded and the grocery bag was invented. And 115 years ago, the Wright Brothers took the first airplane flight.
By comparison, a number of startups and innovations have emerged in the past five, 10, 15 and even 20 years (“Gen Z”-aged, if you will) that are now approaching the same level of household-name status. Some are still in the startup phase, while others have been acquired (or have acquired others) and continue to grow.
Many of the internet companies whose products we use today had to either survive the dot-com bubble at the turn of the millennium or rise from the ashes afterwards. Then, of course, there are some that have arguably already reached and passed their prime in the 21st century alone, as technology has evolved further.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, click through the slides to see which businesses are celebrating milestones in 2018.
In February 2013, a twentysomething electrical engineer named Rob Reinhart published a blog post that went viral. In it, he described a meal substitute substance he had created with the goal of saving time, money and the hassle of procuring food while ingesting all of the nutrients his body needed.
“I feel like the $6 million man,” Reinhart wrote. “My physique has noticeably improved, my skin is clearer, my teeth whiter, my hair thicker and my dandruff gone. My resting heart rate is lower, I haven't felt the least bit sickly, rare for me this time of year. I've had a common skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris since birth. That was gone by day nine. I used to run less than a mile at the gym; now I can run seven. I have more energy than I know what to do with.”
Today, his creation, Soylent, named after the movie Soylent Green (but not made from people!) is available in various flavors and formats and has expanded into retail sales with Amazon, 7-Eleven and other partners. Last year, the company raised $50 million in a series B funding round, after recovering from some bad press when it made consumers sick.Related: Here's What Happened When I Replaced My Breakfast and Coffee With Soylent 'Coffiest' for a Week
One of today’s buzziest financial tech startups turns five years old this year. Robinhood is a Palo Alto-based no-fee U.S. stock-trading app that has raised $176 million, is valued at $1.3 billion and has 3 million users (as of January 2018).
In summer 2017, Robinhood launched a referral program that rewards participants with a free share of stock in a company such as Apple or Sprint.
On Jan. 25, 2018, Robinhood announced it would also let users trade the cryptocurrencies bitcoin and ethereum for free beginning in February.
“We’re planning to operate this business on a break-even basis and we don’t plan to profit from it for the foreseeable future,” Robinhood co-founder Vlad Tenev told TechCrunch in conjunction with the Robinhood Crypto announcement.
Younger than Seamless/Grubhub, Instacart and Postmates, DoorDash celebrates its fifth birthday this year. Founded in 2013 by four Stanford University students, it continues to survive in a crowded market.
DoorDash has navigated a handful of legal battles. The company settled a $5 million class-action lawsuit in 2017 over its use of independent contractors. In late 2015, In-N-Out Burger sued, arguing that the company interfered with its quality standards when delivering its food. In 2018, DoorDash even faces a lawsuit from a burger restaurant in Brookfield, Ill.
On a more positive front for the company, it has recently partnered with Starship Technologies for robot deliveries and acquired logistics startup Rickshaw. DoorDash is also partnered with Facebook on its in-app ordering feature.
Launched out of founder and CEO Chieh Huang’s New Jersey home in 2013, online wholesale retailer Boxed has tapped into a market that wants to buy in bulk, but doesn’t want to schlep items home from a Sam’s Club, Costco or similar big-box store -- or doesn’t live near one. Another selling point is that customers, who can buy third-party and private label items through Boxed, don’t have to pay a membership fee like they do with other bulk-item sellers.
Boxed has four fulfillment centers in the U.S. from which it compiles and ships orders to customers. The company has been adding various forms of automation to these facilities, though it proudly claims that it is not adding robots at the expense of its employees.
The company also famously subsidizes college tuition and weddings for its employees.
Amazon and Kroger reportedly have been in independent talks to acquire Boxed, though no deal has been announced as of January 2018.
Beats Electronics (2008)
Rapper Dr. Dre (Andre Young) partnered with fellow record producer Jimmy Iovine to release Beats by Dre, a line of headphones, in 2008. The brand gained popularity and eventually collaborated with musicians, fashion designers and other artists on special products, as well as landed numerous endorsement deals with athletes.
In 2014, Apple acquired the company, now known as Beats Electronics, which by that time made headphones, earbuds and speakers. The deal also included the company’s streaming subscription service, Beats Music, founded that year. Apple bought both parts of the business for a whopping $3 billion, and Dre and Iovine joined Apple at the time to launch Apple Music.That same year, the NFL banned players from wearing Beats headphones on camera, citing policies that prohibit “branded exposure.”
Airbnb has various use cases: It’s a way to find a temporary roommate or subletter, make some extra dough off a vacant home and even, as its name suggests, coordinate guests for bed and breakfasts. Some hosts even provide what Airbnb dubs “experiences,” meaning they organize activities and act as a local tour guide for their guests, to make extra money for themselves and Airbnb.
The company has faced scrutiny for discrimination on its platform, as well as for disrupting the rental housing and hospitality markets. Some local governments have passed restrictive laws (though residents and landlords do not necessarily abide by them).
As of Jan. 8, 2018, Airbnb had brokered stays for more than 200 million guests in more than 65,000 cities in more than 191 countries, according to the company’s website.
The company reportedly achieved full profitability in 2017 and is headed toward an IPO.
The crowdfunding platform made its debut 10 years ago at Sundance Film Festival but has since expanded beyond films to help ideas, products, companies and charities in just about every industry get off the ground. There have been more than 800,000 Indiegogo campaigns to date, with 19,000 new ones launching each month.
More than 9 million backers, as those who contribute funds are called, have supported Indiegogo campaigns since the platform’s launch. Today, a major trend on the platform is the rise of larger companies, such as Procter & Gamble, using Indiegogo to test new products and get feedback, rather than to gain funding.
Over the years, Indiegogo has added rules, guidelines and resources to help foster fair and successful campaigns.
The online coupon seller had its heyday in 2010, when it achieved unicorn status after just 17 months in operation, having benefited from penny-pinching during the Great Recession. Today, it’s still kicking after a decade in business.
Groupon raised $700 million in its IPO in 2011. It was the largest IPO by an internet company since Google’s $1.7 billion IPO in 2004. Incidentally, Google sought to acquire Groupon a year earlier, but Groupon declined the offer.
The company has since downsized, as well as expanded its offerings into merchandise and tickets. Additionally, Groupon has evolved from offering one deal a day at its inception to being a marketplace of deals.
In October 2016, Groupon acquired competitor LivingSocial.
The company’s website summarizes what users can do on the platform: “You can host and review code, manage projects and build software alongside millions of other developers.” Individuals and Fortune 50 and 100 companies both use GitHub to these ends.
A major feature of the site is “pull requests,” of which there were 100 million between 2008 and 2017. A user makes a pull request when they adapt the code of another user and want the creator to acknowledge it.
The online professional network was technically founded in late December 2002 in former CEO and chairman Reid Hoffman’s living room, but it launched on May 5, 2003.
Hoffman had previously tried to develop a social network (literally called SocialNet) but abandoned the project. He spent a few years as a founding member of the PayPal board before founding LinkedIn. With LinkedIn, his goal was the same from day one: to connect professionals online. Many people use it as a place to list resume information or to circulate blog posts and articles.
The company went public in 2011, and Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in June 2016. The company’s current CEO is Jeff Weiner.
Today, LinkedIn has more than 530 million registered members worldwide, and two or more new members sign up every second.
Another company founded in 2003 that Microsoft has scooped up (in 2011) is Skype, though it was previously owned by eBay and later, a group of investors shared the majority stake.
The online video conferencing platform, which also supports landlines calls and text messages, sees users make up to 3 billion minutes of calls per day. In 2016, Skype reported 300 million monthly users.
The video calling feature was first launched in 2006, and in its first 10 years, users spent a cumulative 2 trillion minutes on it.
Co-founded as Tesla Motors by Elon Musk (now chairman and CEO), the 15-year-old electric car and renewable energy company has hit its stride in its second decade.
The direct-to-consumer automaker has delivered more than a quarter-million vehicle units to consumers since its founding.
The company has also delved into autonomous driving with its Autopilot feature, which became available in 2014. In October 2016, the company announced that all Tesla vehicles produced from that point on would have full self-driving hardware.
In November 2017, Tesla revealed its new Roadster, which the company claims can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 1.9 seconds and has a top speed of more than 250 mph.
In addition to cars, Tesla makes batteries and solar panels under its energy division.
In 1998, Nick Swinmurn founded Shoesite.com after coming up short in a search for a new pair of shoes at a San Francisco mall. The following year, he changed the company’s name to Zappos, based on the Spanish word for shoes, zapatos. He wanted a name that didn’t explicitly reference shoes to give his company the freedom to expand into other product categories, from clothing and beauty to housewares.
The company is known for its culture and enumerated list of core values, as well as its experimentation with a horizontal leadership structure known as holacracy. In January 2016, The New York Times reported that the implementation of this hierarchy-free leadership structure prompted a large proportion of its employees to take buyouts, with 18 percent of the company departing in a nine-month period.
Travel booking and deals website Priceline survived the dot-com bubble and 9/11, specializing in hotels as opposed to airfare to stay afloat. The company made a name for itself with its “Name Your Own Price” feature.
At the time of Priceline’s 1999 IPO, 95 percent of its business was airline tickets -- it sold more than 100,000 tickets in that first year, according to MarketWatch coverage at the time. Today, “Hotels” is the default tab on the website’s homepage. Priceline also coordinates car rentals, cruises and travel packages.As of Jan. 26, 2018, Priceline has a stock price of $1,953 and a market capitalization of $95.8 billion.
The search engine and online advertising company has expanded into numerous lines of business since its founding 20 years ago, growing so vast and global that it’s difficult to summarize. From acquiring Android in 2005 and YouTube in 2006 to offering email and messaging services, cloud computing and powerful mapping technologies, the company has been described as the world’s most valuable brand.
Since 2015, Google has been nested under parent company Alphabet.
Digital invitation company Evite is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, as well as the fact that it’s helped send invitations for more than 25 million birthdays throughout the past two decades (plus millions more for other types of events).
The company has sent more than 2 billion invitations in total since its founding in 1998 by Al Lieb and Selina Tobaccowala. Throughout the years, the company has updated its interface, adding a mobile app, SMS invitations, a feed where users can share photos and memorials associated with events and even a donations platform. The company is a subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corporation.
Today, Los Angeles-headquartered Evite prides itself in being a majority female workplace in the tech sector, with 59 percent of its employees being women and half of its senior leadership roles filled by women.
Throughout 2018, the company plans to celebrate its own birthday with giveaways.
Fifty years ago (on July 18), Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce teamed up to found Intel. Noyce is famous for having helped to invent the microchip, while Moore is remembered for first picking up on the concept that is now known as Moore’s Law.
Intel’s first major contribution to computing was its central processing unit chip, the 4004, which could be programmed to function as a “building block” in a variety of personal electronics products.
In 2017, Samsung’s semiconductor business surpassed Intel in chip sales by revenue. And already in 2018, Intel has had to address security flaws in its processors after bugs known as Meltdown and Spectre were detected.
Looking toward the future, Intel is working on self-driving cars, including a passenger drone.
As of Jan. 26, 2018, Intel’s stock price is $49.41 and its market capitalization is $231.2 billion.
The 2x4 Lego Brick (1958)
Speaking of building blocks, Lego itself was founded in Denmark in 1932, but the iconic “2x4” brick that’s been the foundation for countless creations debuted on Jan. 28, 1958.
To commemorate the product’s anniversary, Lego’s Master Builders constructed a big version of it. It weighs 1,200-pounds, stands 10 feet tall and is made from 133,000 individual 2x4 bricks. The big brick was on display in New York City’s Flatiron Plaza from Jan. 26 through 28, 2018.