Apple's rapid valuation ascent of the last few years came to a head today as the Cupertino-based hardware-and-software company reached the $3 trillion market cap threshold, according to Google Finance data.
There's some quibbling among different data providers, but the consensus is that Apple managed to reach a $3 trillion valuation during intraday trading, despite some pegging the company at a mere $2.99 trillion.
Notably, the gap between $3.00 trillion and $2.99 trillion is $10 billion, so it's not like the difference is chump change. Regardless, Apple has set a new high-water mark for corporate value in our time. Mazel.
The fact that a single technology company -- any single company, really -- is worth $3 trillion may not astound you if you have become accustomed to financial headlines that deal with large numbers. But it is, in fact, a big deal.
Some context will help. Back in May 2017, I noted that "tech’s Big 5" were approaching "the $3 trillion market cap watermark" with a combined value of $2.97 trillion. They finally reached that dollar figure later that year in July. The next year, we noted that the same basket of companies was now worth $4 trillion, a material jump from their prior values.
You know what has happened since: The pandemic revalued tech companies, giving them far more value per dollar of revenue than before. The impact of COVID on tech companies was perhaps most pronounced among pure software companies, but the largest U.S. tech companies did just fine, as we can see today in Apple's accomplishment of being worth $3 trillion on its own, the same value as Apple, Amazon, Meta (née Facebook), Microsoft and Alphabet combined a half-decade ago.
The $3 trillion figure is notable for another reason. It's also what the then-current crop of unicorns was worth back in mid-2021, per Crunchbase news math. CB Insights says that they are worth $3.1 trillion now. More simply, Apple is worth as much as every unicorn combined. That's a lot!
We lose sight of the fact that the tech giants are just that: huge. Their scale is a bit hard to parse, frankly, as their wealth is effectively uncountable.
A lot of science-fiction discusses futures in which corporations are ascendant and able to act as nation-states either implicitly or explicitly. It always felt like a stretch in my imagination. But now with Apple hitting the $3 trillion mark on its own, perhaps the authors were really oracles after all.