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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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Uber

Photograph by Mark Ralston — AFP/Getty Images

It provides 50 million rides per month in the U.S. It operates in more than 400 cities around the world. It employs nearly 7,000 people, not including its million-plus global network of contractor-drivers. Its lobbyists fight nonstop regulatory battles in municipalities from Austin to Seoul, deploying a combination of sweet-talking, threats, and grass-roots campaigning. It has raised a total of $8 billion in venture capital, most recently at a valuation of $62.5 billion—about $10 billion more than Ford Motor’s public market value. Uber is six years old.

For these reasons, Uber is Fortune’s most important private company of 2016, a global bully that is ferociously fighting competitors with names like Lyft, Didi, and Ola, even while it is changing assumptions about everything from drunk driving to seamless payment for services rendered. What makes Uber so influential is that it’s as much an idea as a company. A mobile-first, global-fast network that couldn’t have existed without the smartphone platforms developed by Apple and Google, Uber and its many “Uber for …” imitators are changing the face of business. Uber’s ambitions are as big as its youthful accomplishments. It aims to lead in self-driving cars, food delivery, and arranging carpools. One day it will even attempt to go public and leave this list. But not yet.

Company Info

CEO Travis Kalanick
HQ location San Francisco

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