Top 10 Most Influential Publicly Traded Companies

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10 Most Influential Publicly Traded Companies 

By Brian Evans

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Brian Evans

Owner, Madrona Financial Services

Employment is the single most important reason a local economy thrives. As the cultural and commercial hub of the hub of the Pacific Northwest, it is no surprise that Seattle is home to many of the companies that produce goods and services we enjoy regularly. However, the extent of Seattle’s presence on the global marketplace is truly remarkable, and the companies based in the Seattle area shed light on the underlying value, productivity, and future growth of the area. Whether it comes as a surprise or not, below are the 10 largest companies according to market capitalization based in the Puget Sound region.

1. Microsoft ($561.13 Billion Market Cap): Technology

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Founded by Bill Gates in 1975, Microsoft pioneered the personal computer as we know it today, delivering informational accessibility to the world, while simultaneously making its founder a fortune in the process. As the world’s sixth-largest information technology company by revenue, Microsoft’s largest innovations can be traced to right here in our region. Microsoft is headquartered in a sprawling campus located in Redmond, and owns additional offices in Bellevue. Microsoft still reigns as a global tech-leader today, improving lives through software and hardware innovation while providing prosperous career opportunities in the Seattle area. Microsoft’s presence in the area can truly be felt, and Bellevue’s strength in the real estate and recreation industries are but one indication of its benefits on the local economy.

2. Amazon ($474.41 Billion Market Cap): Technology

Today, it seems as if hardly a time goes by before Amazon’s name is mentioned in the news. The ecommerce giant has disrupted traditional retail as we know, made shopping more convenient than ever, and claims roots back to Seattle. Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, Amazon has since remained local and is today largest private employer in the city of Seattle. Headquartered in South Lake Union, the company owns several buildings, plans to construct even more, serving as a magnet for attracting ambitious high talent to the city. As Amazon furthers their rapid Seattle expansion, most recently announcing plans for HQ2, we may expect much more to come, as the inflow of high-paying tech jobs expands real estate demand and the service sectors within the city.

3. Starbucks($80.05 Billion Market Cap): Consumer Services

If Seattle is known for one thing, it is its undying love for coffee. With its first location in the iconic Pike Place Market, Starbucks burgeoned into a global coffeehouse chain, expanding to 75 countries with over 26,000 stores. Located in the industrial district of Seattle, the Starbucks corporate headquarters draws upon local talent to maintain its multibillion dollar revenue and keep our rainy Seattle on the global map. As coffee lovers, Seattleites can all take pride in the global presence that has become of Starbucks.

4. Costco Wholesale ($68.61 Billion Market Cap): Retail

Costco is the largest American membership-only warehouse club in the world, and it is fortunate that the very first warehouse was founded here in Seattle in 1983. While Costco’s worldwide headquarters are located in nearby Issaquah, the company has graced the entire country with affordable products ranging from eyeglass subscriptions to delectable food court pizzas and oversized Nutella jars. Today, customers may purchase Kirkland Signature products with the subtle reminder of a place just across the water from Seattle.

5. T-Mobile US ($53.0 Billion Market Cap): Telecommunications

T-Mobile is headquartered in Bellevue, and is currently the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S. T-Mobile was initially founded as VoiceStream Wireless PCS, and was eventually purchased by Deutsche Telekom AG, its current majority shareholder, and renamed as T-Mobile USA in 2002. A merger with MetroPCS in 2013 began the public trading of T-Mobile US, its current form. Today, T-Mobile provides many job opportunities on the corporate level at its Pacific Northwest location, adding to the already existing plethora of opportunity in the region.

6. Weyerhauser ($24.7 Billion Market Cap)

Washington State is known as the Evergreen State for its large forests and seas of trees. Weyerhauser is one of the largest owners of timberlands in the world, and is a real estate investment trust founded in 1900 in Longview. While once a logging company, Weyerhauser consolidated its core operations to eventually become a service business, and a real estate investment trust in 2010. Weyerhauser also manufactures and distributes wood building materials. Weyerhauser is presently headquartered South of Seattle in Federal Way.

7. Paccar ($24.1 Billion Market Cap): Industrials

PACCAR is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial and heavy-duty trucks. Founded in 1905 in West Seattle, Pacific Car and Foundry Company would move to acquire major truck companies Kenworth and Peterbilt under the new name PACCAR, and move to become a “global leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of high-quality light-, medium and heavy-duty trucks” (PACCAR). Today, its corporate headquarters lie on the Eastside in Bellevue, with a plant in Renton and branches across the state.

8. Expedia ($22.4 Billion Market Cap): Technology

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Expedia is the modern-day travel agent, serving as the hub for all things travel. Expedia is the parent company several notable travel websites and subsidiaries such as Hotels.com, Trivago, and Travelocity, among many others. Initially founded as a division of Microsoft in 1996, Expedia spun off in 1999 as its own company. While currently operating out of the 20-story Expedia Building in Bellevue, the travel booking company announced a corporate move to Interbay in Seattle in order to attract and retain high-tech talent into their ranks. Without a doubt, this move would stimulate the Seattle economy, and benefit those living in it.

9. Alaska Air Group ($10.4 Billion Market Cap): Transportation

While it may have been founded in Anchorage, Alaska in 1932, Alaska Airlines currently operates its largest hub at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac). This transition was marked notably by moving its base of operations to Paine field in Everett following World War II, where it would continue to operate and expand to its current fleet size of 313 planes. Alaska Airlines thrives in the geographically-advantaged location of Seattle, and having its largest hub based in Seattle certainly provides a multitude of employment opportunities to the citizens of the region.

10. Expeditors International ($10.0 Billion Market Cap): Transportation

Positioned in a unique geographical location, Seattle serves as a very convenient hub between neighboring Canada, California, and Asia. Expeditors International is a logistics company founded in 1979 in Seattle and presently headquartered in Seattle, providing supply chain management services with technology to companies internationally. Based in Downtown, and with 331 global locations, Expeditors proves itself as yet another dominant company that provides cash flow and job opportunity to this region.


Other Honorable Mentions, all exceeding $3 Billion in Market Capitalization

  • Boeing ($140.51 B Market Cap, not headquartered in Seattle, but manufactures in Everett and is largest area employer): Transportation
  • Nordstrom ($7.8 Billion Market Cap): Retail
  • F5 Networks ($7.5 Billion Market Cap): Technology
  • Seattle Genetics ($7.03 Billion Market Cap): Biotechnology
  • Tableau Software ($5.56 Billion Market Cap): Technology
  • Zillow Group ($4.3 B Market Cap): Business Services
  • Juno Therapeutics (3.17 Billion Market Cap): Biotechnology

These companies, with their high earnings and continuous expansions, attract high talent and consequently stimulate the economy of the Seattle area. This tremendous growth has paved the way for a burgeoning real estate market. As existing companies continue to expand and more companies expand into Seattle, high-paying jobs will continue to grow and aggregate demand will increase in our local economy, thereby making all parties better off in the long run. The success stories of the above companies indicate true underlying value to our area, and it can certainly be expected that they will continue reinforcing our economy in the manner already demonstrated. Truly, there is a lot in store for the Emerald City and its neighbors.