One aspect of the Global 5000 company database is that we include all types, shapes and locations of companies including those that are publicly listed as well as private firms. For those who sell to corporations (as opposed to consumers) there is a great deal of interest in private companies. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that public companies have to disclose so much about their size, shape and all aspects of their organizations – most everyone knows or can find out what they need to. Privates, on the other hand, are less well known and hold the allure that there is great, undiscovered opportunity in there.

To get a sense of the dynamics of the public/private we examined a number of metrics related to companies in the Global 5000 database.  It is true that more large companies are publicly traded. Of the 5000 companies, nearly 4,000 are public and just over 1,000 are private. That is the inverse of the market as a whole where most companies in any country or industry are private. Here are a few facts about each group.

  • The average revenue for a public company in the Global 5000 is $10.3 billion while the private companies averaged $10.6 billion
  • Public companies reported an average revenue per employee of $214,000 while private companies were just over $282,000
  • For both 2010 and 2011, revenue for both public and private companies grew by slightly more than 11.5%. Virtually no difference.
  • In both cases, IT spending per company is over $290 million and approximately 2.7% of revenue.
  • Total IT spending for Global 5000 public companies is approximately $1.1 trillion while private Global 5000 companies will spend about $300 billion.

The bottom line here is that big is big. It does not make much difference if the company is public or private, the big guys will spend a lot on a wide variety of products and services including IT products and services. The real difference is in the number of these large opportunities there are. Just because we find a few of these nuggets among the privates, does not mean all privates look alike.  Most are quite a bit smaller.

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