If you were to draw up a list of the most interesting companies in the world, what would it look like? What exactly makes a company interesting to other people? Perhaps it’s the products they make or are working on which makes them interesting, whether that’s due to innovation, style, or simply the quality of their work.
Perhaps it’s the people who lead them, some of whom have become celebrities in their own right with the rise of social media and the direct access that gives to the thoughts and dreams of these business leaders. Or perhaps it’s the culture surrounding these companies, both in terms of their employees and their customers, a certain something that just makes the company compelling to insiders and outsiders both.
While we did not use any specific methodology to come to these rankings, we did factor in a slew of variables. While many of these companies are tech companies, we did consider companies across every industry. However, it’s undeniable that the tech industry is loaded with compelling companies that have their hands in so many cookie jars, it can be hard to keep up with everything they’re doing. However, that in itself is certainly a part of what makes them so interesting, as opposed to a company that has a narrow focus that would only be noteworthy to people with that same interest. However, we did add a few non-tech companies that we think are doing some amazing things that could change the world.
This list is partly inspired by the most interesting man in the world, the Dos Equis pitchman that has become a legend of marketing. If you’d like to find out more about the real man behind the character, Jonathan Goldsmith, who was recently removed from the role after a wildly successful 10-year run, be sure to check out this list of the 21 Most Interesting Man in the World Facts. Stay thirsty my friends.
Now then, let’s proceed with our list of the 10 most interesting companies in the world:
#10 Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN)
We’ll start with gene sequencing firm Illumina, which has been in the news this week after the unveiling of a new product at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference on Tuesday, NovaSeq, which the company anticipates could one day be used to sequence entire genomes for just $100 and in less than an hour. Compared to Illumina’s first such machine, which came out in 2006 and cost $300,000 to sequence an entire genome, it’s startling and exciting how far the technology has come in a mere decade.
Why is this good news for everyone? Because the vastly reduced price point will open up genomic sequencing to everyone, and the potential benefits of that to individuals is immeasurable. Our genomes can tell us what debilitating conditions we’re more likely to develop, which could allow us to take enhanced preventative measures against them. There’s also the potential that advances in gene therapy will eventually allow us to correct those genetic defects entirely (more on that when we get to #7 on the list).
Giving us the ability to map out our individual DNA, something which would’ve been unthinkable for the average person just a few years ago, makes Illumina one of the most interesting companies in the world.
#9 Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON)
If we made a list of the most hated companies in the world, Monsanto would probably rank highly on that list. The company is often cited by conspiracy theorists as one of the major arms of the NWO or “elite” that are in the process of unleashing their diabolical master plan on humanity. Normal people simply dislike its monopoly of seeds (which is set to become even greater if its proposed merger with Bayer goes through), and the fact that it creates “frankenfood”, which they believe is not safe for human consumption.
However, it also ranks as one of the most interesting companies for some of those same reasons, and because despite the hate, it is working on initiatives that could go a long way to improving food security. One of those involves a recent accord with NRGene, an Isreali company that has mapped the genome of bread, pasta, and wild emmer wheat. The collaboration could help create more resilient and bountiful strains of those and other crops. Monsanto spends about half of its R&D money on breeding and testing new strains of plants, all in an effort to improve food production, which is a noble and necessary aim.
#8 Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)
Amazon is the first of the tech behemoths that made our list. While the company is primarily an online marketplace, it’s got a lot of other interesting initiatives, and even that drab marketplace is made all the more interesting by its push into drone deliveries (which are now a reality), and the possibility of it creating flying warehouses (which it just patented) to launch those drones from. The company is also in the process of creating brick-and-mortar grocery stores, which are expected to come in three formats.
Amazon has also emerged as a serious threat to Netflix in the video streaming realm, has a potent cloud services segment, and has also launched various gadgets, with varying success. Jeff Bezos also ranks as one of the more interesting CEO’s, one which his company pays a reported $1.6 million in security fees annually to protect. Bezos, who bought The Washington Post for $250 million from his personal fortune (which is estimated at over $68 billion), was named Time’s Person of the Year in 1999.
#7 Editas Medicine Inc (NASDAQ:EDIT)
While they may not be as sexy as some of the other names on this list, Editas Medicine is a company that should be on a lot of radars, as they’re working on a revolutionary method of genome editing which could conceivably provide cures for the approximately 6,000 diseases which are caused by genetic mutations in our DNA. Of those, only about 5% currently have approved therapeutic treatments (and those don’t address the root cause, but seek to combat the symptoms).
Editas’ genome editing platform CRISPR could instead be used to correct the genetic problem at its source: right in our DNA. A protein-RNA complex can be tailored to either repair or replace damaged genetic sequences, and is then guided to the target spot in the genetic link by a guide RNA. The result is a corrected sequence that could completely cure the issues that were being caused by the defect.
There are a couple issues surrounding the company however. Firstly, it could be years before any human trials of the platform are launched. Secondly, Editas Medicine is currently caught in the middle of a heated patent dispute over the CRISPR platform itself, which teams of scientists from Berkeley and the Broad Institute each claim to have the patent rights to. Interestingly, members of both of those teams helped found Editas and still serve as founding scientific advisors for the company.
Setting aside the patent dispute, there’s some exciting work being done at Editas that could revolutionize medicine, making this one of the most interesting companies in the world.
Do you vaguely remember a story related to baseball great Ted Williams’ cryogenically frozen remains and the allegations of impropriety surrounding their handling by some company? If so, the company at the center of that controversy was Alcor, which for $200,000 will freeze your still-warm corpse with the possibility of bringing you back to life in the future, once technology has advanced enough.
While there are a lot of companies doing some impressive work in the life extension arena, Alcor is one of the few that already has a business model in place and is making money from it. Among its other clients are billionaire Peter Thiel and Google’s Ray Kurzweil, the latter of which is also a futurist that expects we will achieve immortality within the next 20 or 30 years. Just in case he kicks the bucket before then, he has Alcor on standby. Interestingly, while the fee seems exorbitant, it can be covered by a life insurance policy (of course if you have loved ones, they wouldn’t get any of it then), which makes it more palatable even for less affluent people. The company currently has over 1,000 members, about 150 of which are dead, though possibly not for long…
#5 Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)/SpaceX
We’re cheating a bit on this one, but we’ll lump Tesla and SpaceX together, as they’re headed by the same mastermind, Elon Musk. Regardless of what you think of Tesla’s viability as an investment, it’s undeniable that Musk’s companies are aggressively pushing the envelope and that push is leaving a lot of excited believers in its wake.
Tesla of course is a pioneer in the electric vehicle space and now the self-driving vehicle space. The company’s Model S has consistently ranked at the top of customer satisfaction surveys, trouncing its EV rivals on that front, and it’s now gearing up for its mass market debut with the Model 3, to be released later this year. To that end, the company is spending billions to build a gigantic battery factory in Nevada to keep pace with the expected increase in demand for its vehicles.
On the SpaceX front, what’s more interesting than the possibility of one day colonizing Mars, which is one of the company’s long-term goals? Aside from that SpaceX has carried out several missions and set several firsts as a publicly-funded space exploration company. SpaceX is also in the process of building a satellite development facility, with the main goal being to increase the company’s revenue for its Mars ambitions.
#4 Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)
Facebook is another of the tech giants that rank as one of the most interesting companies in the world. Its social media platform has over 1.7 billion users and counting, bringing together more people than any other platform on the planet. Its reach has grown so vast that it was at the center of a fake news controversy during the recent Presidential elections, with fears that fake stories being carried on its platform could have influenced the election’s results.
While many people still drone on about the MSM like it’s 1970 still, the reality is that Facebook and other social media sites have far more power to affect opinion than the MSM now. They are the only places where people can be challenged by new ideas and confronted with stories and angles they don’t agree with. Otherwise people remain in their bubbles, allowing in only the news from the sources they want to hear it from; whether that’s right-wing or left-wing, it matters not.
Aside from that, Facebook has some other interesting things going on. There’s Instagram for one, where women can show photos of nothing but their butts and have 6 million followers (Joe Rogan did a great bit about this in his latest Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) special), and the Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset that could forever change online social communication. There’s also that whole “bring the internet to Africa via satellites” initiative, but I’m starting to get distracted by the thought of women’s behinds on Instagram, so let’s end things here.
There’s virtually nothing that piques our interest more than the thought of flying cars. Ever since we saw Back to the Future three decades ago, we couldn’t wait for 2015 to arrive with its flying cars, hoverboards, and self-fitting clothes, even as we scoffed at the absurdity of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. Well, the Cubs won the Series (a year late), and flying cars are coming not far behind, with AeroMobil poised to be the first to bring one to market.
If you haven’t been keeping up with flying car development, you may be shocked to discover that one is very close to release. Yes, AeroMobil, a Slovakian company, has a legitimate flying car in development that has been undergoing flight-testing for over two years. The company is tentatively planning to start accepting pre-orders for the vehicles this year, and could begin delivering them in the next two-to-three years. The vehicle, which is expected to have a $400,000+ sticker price, can transform from a plane into a car in seconds, runs on regular gas, and can fit into a parking space like any other car; which it is anything but. Yes people, the future has arrived, and we’re living in it.
#2 Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)
Alphabet currently has the two most popular websites in the world according to Alexa’s rankings, in the form of its Google search engine, and YouTube. Considering the thousands of YouTubers who are making boatloads of money off the platform, you can imagine how much Alphabet itself is making. The company purchased YouTube for a mere $1.65 billion back in 2006, outbidding Yahoo. The site is now considered to be worth between $80 and $100 billion.
Yet Alphabet is a lot more interesting than just its iconic search engine and renowned video site, which is partly why the company reorganized its structure in 2015. That move put a greater emphasis on its so-called “other bets”, which became standalone entities under Alphabet, putting them in their own spotlight and with the company later urging them to seek their own equity grants. Among Alphabet’s “other bets” are smart home developer Nest, life sciences unit Verily, venture capital arm GV, and of course, the self-driving car unit, which is now called Waymo.
Google is also known for having a great corporate culture (at least at its main divisions, there has been some noteworthy bickering among its “other bets” divisions), which includes plenty of perks and freedom for its employees, including free meals, employee trips, and a dog-friendly work environment (seems like this could cause a LOT of issues, but I guess it’s working for them).
#1 Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)
Love it or hate it, Apple is without a doubt the most popular and talked-about company in the world, which pretty much hands it the title of the most interesting company in the world on a silver platter. No other company can generate the kind of intense debate and scrutiny that Apple can. Every rumor surrounding the company is feverishly dissected by a cadre of loyal fans, and the rest of us can’t help but be intrigued by what the company is doing. It’s also been ranked by Fortune as the world’s Most Admired Company for 3 years running.
It doesn’t hurt that Apple has some interesting things going on. Of course there’s the world-class smartphones, the iPads, the Macbooks, and the Watches, but there’s also Apple Pay, Siri, self-driving cars, Apple TV and Apple Music. We could also see some interesting things from Apple in the future in the areas of machine learning and health, based on some of its 2016 acquisitions. There’s also the continued question of what Apple will do with its billions of dollars in overseas cash. Oh, and it’s also building a giant “spaceship” headquarters in Cupertino. All in all, the world continues to be Apple’s oyster, and we can’t help but be compelled by it all.