4 Captivating Companies and What They Share

By James Ledbetter and Jacob Weisberg
Sunday, September 14, 2008; F01

Ask yourself this question: Aside from the company where you or members of your family work, how many companies do you actually care about? We think that for a lot of us, there are only four: Starbucks, Apple, Google and Amazon — call them the SAGA companies. Of course, reducing what’s exciting about American business to SAGA is an exaggeration, but stay with us for a bit while we make a case that these four corporations represent a distinctive and distinctively American contribution to 21st-century capitalism.

The SAGA companies do very different things and are of hugely different sizes: Google‘s market capitalization is about $158 billion; Starbucks is down to about $12 billion. Yet they share some remarkable traits. At the most basic level, each has transformed not only a specific commercial marketplace but also some important aspect of contemporary life — computing and music for Apple, information and advertising for Google, coffee for Starbucks, books for Amazon. In doing so, each has had an appreciable impact on our daily routines, taken on a looming presence in popular culture, and often engendered an intensity of feeling more often associated with tastes in entertainment or political views. Together, they have created a new model of business innovation, culture and values.

But what, really, do the SAGA companies have in common? Here’s a start:

· They have a ubiquitous presence.

· They reflect the comparative advantage of today’s America . . .

· . . . yet they are genuinely global.

· They are restless innovators.

· They follow their founders.

· They engage consumers on an almost spiritual level.

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source: Washington Post


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