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The 25 Most Important Private Companies

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The companies were selected based on a combination of factors: their prodigious revenues or assets, their social currency, their deep connection to our daily lives, and (particularly for the newer and smaller companies), their disruptive impact.

For more on the 25 Most Important Private Companies, see "Companies Find a New Allure in Going Private."

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By Erika Fry, Leigh Gallagher, Vivian Giang, Erin Griffith, Robert Hackett, Mathew Ingram, John Kell, Beth Kowitt, Adam Lashinsky, Michal Lev-Ram, Sy Mukherjee, Brian O’Keefe, and Christopher Tkaczyk

Fortune has long celebrated the achievements of massive publicly-held corporations in lists such as the long-running Fortune 500. Today, as even super-hot startups forgo IPOs (at least for now), and some public behemoths turn private, the time has come to recognize the hugely significant contributions of those corporations that choose not to sell their stock to the public.

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13.

Mars

Photograph by Patrick Hertzog — AFP/Getty Images

Trends in American eating habits come and go, but one thing remains constant: a collective sweet tooth. For more than a century Mars has been sating those cravings with an assortment of what are now billion-dollar brands known to 8-year-olds and octogenarians alike: M&M’s, Snickers, and the namesake Mars. The tasty tally: $33 billion in annual sales, and the family-owned company is looking to keep growing. It is spending $100 million to expand a Kansas chocolate factory and scooped up Mexican chocolate maker Grupo Turin. Responding to desires for purity even in sugary treats, Mars has vowed to remove artificial colors from its products.

Company Info

CEO Grant Reid
HQ location McLean, Va.

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