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."


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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Sequoia Capital

Doug Leone, partner at Sequoia Capital.
Courtesy of Sequoia Capital

Some companies are important in themselves. Sequoia matters because it finds and nurtures important companies. The venture capital firm’s greatest hits include Apple, Google, Oracle, and Cisco. But it hasn’t coasted, with success only accelerating in recent years. It saw a 157-fold return on its investment in WhatsApp when the messaging app was sold to Facebook in 2014. Other wins include Square, Stripe, Airbnb, and Alibaba. Still, its record is less stellar in another category: Like some rivals, Sequoia has no female investing partners in the U.S., and a partner was recently ousted after being sued for sexual and physical abuse. (He has denied the charges.)

Correction: An earlier version of this entry misstated the return on Sequoia’s investment in WhatsApp.

Company Info

CEO Jim Goetz, Doug Leone, Neil Shen (Managing Partners)
HQ location Menlo Park, Calif.

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