Fortune 500 Firms in 1959 vs. 2009; 86% Are Gone
What do the companies in these three groups have in common?
Group A. American Motors, Studebaker, Eastman Kodak, Maytag and National Sugar Refining.
Group B. Boeing, Campbell Soup, Deere, IBM and Whirlpool.
Group C. Cisco, eBay, McDonald's, Microsoft and Yahoo.
All the companies in Group A were in the Fortune 500 in 1959, but not in 2009.
All the companies in Group B were in the Fortune 500 in both 1959 and 2009.
All the companies in Group C were in the Fortune 500 in 2009, but not 1959.
Here's the complete database of the Fortune 500 every year from 1959-2009.
Comparing the Fortune 500 in 1959 to 2009, I find that there are only 72 companies that appear in both lists. In other words, only 14% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1959 were still on the list fifty years later in 2009, and 86% of the companies have either gone bankrupt, merged, gone private, or still exist but have fallen from the top 500 companies (ranked by gross revenue). That's a lot of churning and creative destruction, and it's probably safe to say that many of today's Fortune 500 like the ones listed above will be replaced by new companies in new industries by the year 2059.
Thanks to Nick Schulz for the idea. The 50 year database is a great resource and I might try some additional analysis, this was just a quick start.