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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."

CREDITS

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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11.

NFL

Photograph by TIMOTHY A. CLARY — AFP/Getty Images

Think of all that has gone wrong for the National Football League in recent years—the disturbing, widening toll of concussions on its players and the highly publicized scandals involving violence (Ray Rice and others) and cheating (“Deflategate”). Yet in the face of all that, the league’s revenue just keeps on rising. The Super Bowl is more of a global event than ever. And a generation has become addicted to the pleasures of fantasy football.

Most important, the NFL is the best platform to reach the American people: It’s the last reliable advertising juggernaut in an era of splintered audiences, and its TV ratings regularly pulverize the numbers for not only other sports but also anything else in its path. Imagine what would happen if the NFL had a good year.

Company Info

CEO Roger Goodell
HQ location New York City

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