The Incredible Shrinking Firm

I saw this graph on the Economist via Ezra Klein, who remarked that Facebook has one-tenth the number of employees of Google. I’m less interested in that than that all four of the most far-reaching modern companies, Apple and Amazon included, are tiny compared to McDonald’s, Toyota, and Boeing. Technology increasingly means a “superstar” effect propels successful firms ahead, allowing them to reach larger audiences and markets than ever before, with fewer human workers. One commenter on Wonkblog asked whether these are the relevant comparisons, as Google and Facebook are fundamentally advertising companies and therefore should be compared to radio, tv, and other advertising media where the users are the product and the advertisers are the customers. I would love to see numbers on that, but my guess is that there are fewer employees relative to both advertising dollars and number of advertisers at FB and the Goog than for traditional media. Facebook is about 6 years younger than Google; I wonder if there are significant differences between the two on that front.

Comments are closed.