Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., arrives at the Axel Springer Award ceremony in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.
Johannessen-Koppitz | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Tech’s biggest companies just wrapped up a huge year.
The seven most valuable U.S. technology companies — Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, Tesla and Nvidia — picked up a combined $3.4 trillion in market cap in 2020, powering through a global pandemic and broader economic crisis.
Between continued optimism over iPhone sales, Microsoft’s growing Teams collaboration product, Amazon’s ongoing control of e-commerce and the strength of Google and Facebook’s online ad duopoly, Big Tech was neither slowed by Covid-19 nor the rising number of investigations into its dominance.
Tesla’s wild rally served as the biggest surprise.
The stock climbed almost ninefold this year, lifting the electric car maker’s market cap from $76 billion at the beginning of the year to $669 billion at Thursday’s close. Despite initial factory closures due to the pandemic, Tesla bounced back to deliver a record number of vehicles in the third quarter.
Tesla led tech stocks in 2020
This month, Tesla became the largest-ever addition to the S&P 500, joining the index with the fifth-heftiest weighting after turning in five straight profitable quarters.
Meanwhile, chipmaker Nvidia more than doubled in value in 2020, closing with a market cap of $323 billion, making it the seventh most valuable tech company and number 16 overall in the U.S. Nvidia’s graphics processors for gaming devices have been flying off the shelves so quickly that the company has struggled to keep up with demand.
Nvidia’s chips are also gaining traction in the data center, where enhanced workloads require faster speeds. In September, Nvidia agreed to buy mobile chipmaker Arm Holdings from SoftBank for $40 billion, the second-largest deal announced by a U.S. tech company this year. However, Chinese regulators could still block it.
By far the biggest increase in market cap went to Apple, which jumped by almost $1 trillion in value, thanks to its stock climbing 81%. Amazon, which benefited from growth in its consumer and cloud-computing business, rose by $710 billion. Microsoft picked up $480 billion, while Alphabet gained $268 billion and Facebook $193 billion.
The gains are clearly reflected in the ranks of the richest people. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest person in the world, followed by Tesla’s Elon Musk and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is fifth. Also in the top 10 are Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Microsoft ex-CEO Steve Ballmer.