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Big tech ruled the decade, We Work raised eyebrows in 2019

We asked Fast Company Impact Council members to name the most important companies of the year and the decade. Some answers may surprise you.

Big tech ruled the decade, We Work raised eyebrows in 2019
[Photo: Niti K./Unsplash]
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Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google are the most important companies of the decade, according to a survey of the Fast Company Impact Council, while We Work (as a cautionary tale) earned a spot on members’ list of the most important companies of 2019.

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We surveyed the council, an invitation-only group of founders, innovative executives, and some of the most creative people in business, to get their outlook for the year ahead and beyond. We also asked them to look back on 2019 and the decade to understand what companies and products they think shaped business and society.

Members called out the disruptive nature of the tech giants in write-in responses to the question: “What, in your opinion, was the most important company of the decade, and why?” Said one: “Google. They are transforming the entire market.” Another replied: “Amazon, for disrupting everything.” One person who named Facebook wrote, “It affected everything from how we interact to democracy.” Apple fans noted the company’s stated commitments to privacy. “For the innovation under [Steve] Jobs,” explained one member, “and the social and privacy dedication and leadership under [Tim] Cook.”

Tesla, Uber, Tencent, and direct-to-consumer sleep company Casper also garnered mentions.

Asked to name the most important company of 2019, members again cited Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google (for many of the same reasons), but We Work, the coworking giant that fell from grace, also bubbled to the top of the list. One member simply wrote: “We Work. Yikes.”

And while most members said We Work’s challenges had not affected their own operations, a few startup leaders noted that conversation with venture investors are starting to take on a different tenor. “Conversations are all about profitable growth now, and less about buying growth,” one said.

Other cited companies included Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart “for taking the risk to stop selling or limiting firearm and ammo sales,” wrote one member; Disney, for “streaming, acquisitions and general dominance,” a respondent said, and Twitter, for, as one person noted: “for remaking the world of politics.”