Data Sheet—Fortune’s Fastest Growers Have Avoided the Dark Side of Rapid Expansion

August 21, 2018, 12:29 PM UTC

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Growth is the good, the bad, and the ugly of business.

It’s what all companies want. Growth makes investors and employees happy. It ensures a firm has capital to try new things, plumb new markets, and hire more workers. Without growth comes stagnation, by definition. And that’s not good.

And yet there’s a dark side to growth. Companies that grow quickly tend to be playing for higher stakes. Slower growth or worse, negative growth, make a high flyer look bad. Executing at a high level is tough to maintain. Competitors see a target on the back of those who lead.

With that as prelude, Fortune releases its annual list of 100 fastest-growing companies today. It’s a measure of revenue, profit, and stock return, meaning that it doesn’t rely on one metric that can be manipulated. Tech features prominently, of course. High-tech is synonymous with newness which equals speed. Semiconductor star Nvidia is No. 7 on the list and sports the highest return. Three tech stalwarts—Adobe, Applied Materials, and Netflix—that had fallen off the list returned this year. Facebook has been on the list for four straight years. And California, the home of tech, is home to 22 of the companies on the list, nearly a quarter of the total.

The full list is here. Enjoy.


I’ve been telling you for a bit now about Fortune’s newest conference, Brainstorm Reinvent, an event devoted to exploring corporate transformation. McKinsey, the consulting firm, helped us create the conference, and judging from the accomplishments of the participants on the program we’ve struck a nerve. In a good way.

The amazing warrior-philosopher Stanley McChrystal will appear at a special dinner event to discuss military reinvention and leadership. (The latter is the topic of his upcoming bestseller, Leaders: Myth and Reality.) Perhaps no company has reinvented itself more than Apple. Jennifer Bailey, the executive responsible for Apple’s bid to reinvent payments, Apple Pay, will share lessons learned.

No company is immune from the demands of reinvention. A few other executives who’ll appear at the event—Sept. 24-25 in Chicago—will include Kathy Marinello of Hertz, Mindy Grossman of Weight Watchers, and Lori Beer of J.P. Morgan Chase.


Pipe dreams. A prominent Tesla investor says the sharp drop in the company's stock price could entice Apple to come calling. Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki, an investment manager that owns Tesla shares, told CNBC on Monday that the lower price could be “Tim Cook’s gift of all gifts.” Don't bet on it–spending even $50 billion on the money-losing carmaker could be highly dilutive, as they say, to Apple's bottom line.

Nightmares. The Russia-linked group that hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016, Fancy Bear, has made attempted attacks on the U.S. Senate and two conservative think tanks that have supported sanctions on Russia, the New York Times reported, citing a report by Microsoft. “We are now seeing another uptick in attacks. What is particular in this instance is the broadening of the type of websites they are going after,” Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, told the paper.

Dream come true. After a years-long wait, Apple will finally upgrade its popular MacBook Air laptop and Mac mini desktop systems, Bloomberg reports. The revised Air will get a higher resolution "retina" screen and the updated mini will get faster processors and greater storage, according to the report.

Reality bites. Adults aged 22 to 36 are the most likely to share their passwords for paid streaming services like Netflix, according to a survey by research firm Magid. Of those classified as millennials, 35% share passwords, while only 19% of Gen Xers, and 13% of Baby Boomers do so. Among the up and coming generation, 21 and younger, the number rises to 42%, many via their parents’ accounts.

Sweet dreams. Luxury online marketplace Farfetch filed to go public and could be seeking a valuation of $5 billion. The company, which sells wares of big names like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Tiffany & Co., was founded in London in 2008 by Portuguese entrepreneur Jose Nevesby.

Broken dreams. Twenty-two states and a gaggle of Internet companies asked an appeals court to revive the Federal Communication Commission's 2015 net neutrality rules. The plaintiffs argued that the move to cancel the rules by Trump-appointed FCC chair Ajit Pai was unjustified and will harm consumers.

River of dreams. Lots of kids in school use iPads and probably even more play Minecraft (if my nephews are any indication). So Microsoft says it is bringing the educational edition of Minecraft to the iPad. Solid.


We have had some fun at Data Sheet with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's somewhat quixotic quest to build the world's largest airplane and use it as a launch pad for sending rockets into space. It sure seems an awful lot like Howard Hughes' effort to construct a huge plane, dubbed the Spruce Goose, which made only a single flight. Steven Levy got extraordinary access to Allen's project for a long feature story at Wired. And even after reading it, you may not feel very confident that the Stratolaunch will get off the ground too many times. Some details from Levy:

The plane’s extreme size led to some unexpected complications: The scaffolding needed to assemble the wing had to be about 40 feet high. “It starts to look like a building,” Stinemetze says. “In fact, the way California treats it, it is a building. It has to meet codes for sprinklers and electrical power.” When the plane was ready to emerge from its scaffolding and get towed out of the hangar, just lowering it 2 feet to the ground took eight hours, Floyd says.

While the plane was taking shape, Stratolaunch was struggling to find rockets to launch. For a few years, Allen’s company searched for a replacement for SpaceX and finally settled on the Pegasus XL rocket, built by Orbital ATK. (Orbital is also owned by Northrop Grumman.) But the choice of rocket was anticlimactic. More than 40 Pegasus rockets have already launched from the air, usually from a converted Lockheed L011 Tristar, a commercial airliner that is almost completely retired. It calls into question the whole Stratolaunch enterprise. Why build the world’s biggest aircraft just to launch a rocket with a small payload that can be shot off from a creaky out-of-service plane?


How a Big Bank Fueled the Green Energy Boom By Matthew Heimer

Microsoft Adds End-to-End Encrypted Chat to Skype Using Signal By Glenn Fleishman

Google Faces Legal Woes After Location Tracking Revelations By Hallie Detrick

Police Nab Alleged Boss Behind Bitcoin Pyramid Scheme Bitconnect By Robert Hackett

President Trump Says It's 'Very Dangerous' For Facebook and Twitter to Ban Certain 'Voices' By Jonathan Vanian

Nvidia Introduces New Graphics Cards as Competition Heats Up By Aaron Pressman

iPad Battery Explodes in Amsterdam Apple Store By Chris Morris


Science fiction was once dominated, or nearly so, by male writers. Not lately. Women made a clean sweep of the top Hugo awards at the 76th World Science Fiction Convention held in San Jose, California over the weekend. N.K. Jemisin won best novel for the third straight year for the third volume of her Broken Earth trilogy, called The Stone Sky. Suzanne Palmer won best novelette for The Secret Life of Bots and Martha Wells was awarded best novella for All Systems Red. Rebecca Roanhorse won best short story for her Native American themed piece Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience. Check them out.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.

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