The Internet has taken on many forms since it hit the mainstream in the mid to late 1990s. As things have evolved over the years, the online space has become a major commercial force around the world, offering virtually limitless entrepreneurial opportunities and access to information that could never even be imagined in the preceding centuries. In businesses spanning all mediums, there are definite winners and losers online. Thanks to a new report from venture capital company Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers (KPCB), we’re able to take a more detailed look at who the real winners were during 2013.
The companies represented run the gamut in terms of services offered, from retail websites to online auction houses. Since the Internet has allowed companies to really focus in on specific industries and customer niches, most of the businesses populating the report have built themselves up from humble, simple beginnings into titans of the corporate realm. While several of the businesses had plenty of start-up capital and investment put behind them, at least one was founded by a pair of graduate students, and put to work in a garage.
KPCB’s report also gives insight into the trends the Internet is seeing at this point in time, including the meteoric rise of tablet usage and mobile data access. People are using smartphones more than ever, and as smartphone technology becomes cheaper to manufacture and finds its ways into more remote areas of the world, people are able to access the Internet when before they might have had the option. As devices become smaller and more portable, and Internet access expands in reach, it’s not hard to imagine these trends continuing.
So who were the real winners when it comes to revenue during 2013? While some foreign companies from countries like China, Japan, and South Korea made a splash, we’ll focus on the American businesses that drove in the largest amounts of revenue. Read on to see what five American Internet giants brought in the most bucks in 2013.
5. Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN)
Priceline has separated itself from the swath of other online travel sites by using its wide reach, detailed database, and special features like open bidding for hotel rooms and airplane tickets. The company has also been able to bring big time talent like William Shatner and Kaley Cuoco into its advertising campaigns, creating humorous content that has had a way of sticking with consumers. As a result of the company’s efforts over the years, Priceline has grown into an incredibly profitable venture.
A quick look at Priceline’s stock over 2013 shows dramatic growth, and it continues right into the current year as well. As many of its counterparts and competitors in the online travel space have stagnated or declined, Priceline — along with companies like TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) — are seeing explosive growth. According to last year’s annual report, Priceline was able to bring in just under $6.8 billion in revenue, with $5.7 billion in profits. A quick look at years past, and it’s obvious Priceline is growing and getting stronger on an annual basis.
4. Liberty Interactive (NASDAQ:LINTA)
One company that many people may not be familiar with is online conglomerate Liberty Interactive Corporation. While flying under the radar for many years, the company has been able to build itself into a virtual powerhouse, with a wide-reaching collection of media entities including QVC, Backcountry.com, along with stakes in Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), Barnes & Noble (NASDAQ:BKS), and Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRI). Liberty has truly diversified itself to the point where it could ultimately be immortal.
With all the company’s wheeling and dealing of assets and acquisitions, the revenues and profits have been streaming in making for very happy shareholders. A quick glance at Liberty Interactive’s stock throughout 2013 shows solid growth throughout the year, with expectations the trend will continue into 2014. The company has also posted very impressive financial numbers, reporting revenues of $11,25 billion in 2013. With a constant bump in revenues year-over-year, investors may want to keep Liberty Interactive on their radar in the future.
3. Ebay (NASDAQ:EBAY)
Oh, eBay. It’s one of the only places on Earth you can find things like full-size leg lamp replicas from A Christmas Story, a Wayne Gretzky rookie card, and even pieces of naval ships. The online auction house truly revolutionized online shopping, much like Amazon did for media sales and Priceline for travel. Ebay has been one of the Internet’s most used sites for many years, and is one of a handful that has survived since the relatively early days to still be relevant into 2014.
Not only is eBay a fun and interesting site to peruse, but it’s also highly profitable to shareholders and investors. Just last year in 2013, the company brought in revenues of more than $16 billion, with gross profits of more than $11 billion, according to the company’s SEC filings. The reports also show annual growth in revenues, something shareholders love to see. As for the company’s stock performance, it saw its ups and downs throughout 2013, but did end up coming out slightly ahead of where it stared.
2. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)
Coming as a surprise to no one, Amazon is pulling in huge revenues and has grown to become one of the biggest retailers in the world, pitting it up against the likes of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) to challenge for the crown. The Seattle-based website has become the default shopping hub for millions, and has even waded into futurology debates by beginning to staff its warehouses with robotic labor forces, and experimenting with drones to drop off deliveries. With ever-increasing capital to work with, Amazon looks primed for a very bright and profitable future.
So what kind of damage was Amazon able to do in the revenue department last year? The numbers were staggering, with revenue reaching above $74.4 billion for the year, setting Amazon on a much higher level than almost all of its other online brethren. The company’s annual report also shows that last year’s figures more than double what it was bringing in a mere three years ago, a testament to Amazon’s profitability. A look at stock performance shows a very big gain towards the end of the year, most likely sparked by holiday sales. But with revenues shooting for the sky, it’s hard to imagine that stock bottoming out any time soon.
1. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)
One Internet titan that is outclassing almost all others is also one of the least surprising of all: Google. The Internet search behemoth has been growing at a pace nobody would have ever predicted, and has been able to diversify its businesses through a myriad of R&D developments and acquisitions, ranging from self-driving vehicles to home automation systems. Showing absolutely no indication that it plans to slow down, Google has even started looking into a variety of other areas to reach its arms into, including wearable technology and robotics.
As far as the hard numbers go, Google was able to rake in revenues of just under $60 billion, according to its annual report. Google is a company that tends to reinvest a lot of capital into its own development projects and acquiring new talent and technologies, so while it still lags behind Amazon in total revenue, don’t be surprised to see those revenue numbers skyrocket in coming years behind implementation of newer developments. As far as an investment, Google is a one of the most profitable corporations in the entire world, and with the numbers the company is reporting, it doesn’t look like it’s losing steam.