The Future 50

Some are mining narrowly defined niches to produce phenomenal growth. Others are migrating into multiple industries with viral speed. Still others are inventing new business models as they go. But each of these companies won its spot on the Future 50 by demonstrating both steady execution and forward-looking strategic nimbleness.
BLOCKBUSTER Jeffrey Wright in a scene from Hold the Dark, one of more than 80 feature films that Netflix plans to release in 2018.


U.S. (WDAY, $124)

THIRTY-ONE CENTS out of every dollar in revenue. That’s how much enterprise software-maker Workday spends on research and development every year. That investment feeds an unusually rapid cycle of product updates and improvements, which, in turn, has built a loyal customer base that includes more than 35% of the Fortune 500. Shareholders have had reason to stay loyal, too, to the tune of annualized returns of 27% over the past three years. For more about what makes Workday run, see executive editor Adam Lashinsky’s feature on page 66.

Market value: $27.0 billion


CHINA (WB, $57)

NOT LONG AGO, China’s answer to Twitter was struggling: The microblog platform had lost ground to Tencent’s messaging service, WeChat, and China’s censors had begun forcing the closure of user accounts. But Weibo has shrugged off tough times to become a powerful outlet, not just for short posts but for long-form content such as news reports, film reviews, and videos. Second-quarter revenue grew 68%, and the platform clocked 431 million monthly active users, up 19% year over year—all generating troves of data that Weibo is now monetizing.

Market value: $12.6 billion


U.S. (NOW, $172)

SIX YEARS AGO, ServiceNow’s market share in IT service management stood at 10%. By last year, the cloud-based platform, which helps IT teams run an organization’s technology infrastructure, had leaped to 40%. ServiceNow claims 42% of the 2,000 largest global companies among its customer base; better yet, it has a 97% retention rate. While this growth has come without much profit—think of it as an IT Amazon—sales have risen almost 700% over the past five years, and the company aims to hit $4 billion in revenue, a 130% jump from today’s mark, by 2020.

Market value: $30.6 billion



AS CHINA’S middle class grows, outbound tourism is expected to surge. Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agent, has already faced down stiff competition to become the dominant platform for China’s hundreds of millions of domestic tourists; it’s on target to see international travel deliver 40% to 50% of its revenue within a few years. Net revenue for the second quarter increased 13% year over year, to $1.1 billion. Ctrip’s biggest new challenge: doing battle with Chinese tech giants like Meituan and Tencent eager for a piece of the lucrative market.

Market value: $18.5 billion



E-COMMERCE IS booming in all segments in China, including fashion—the niche that Vipshop specializes in. The online store runs discount promotions on brand-name clothing. Product revenue surged from roughly $3 billion in 2014 to $10 billion in 2017. Its active customer base grew 6% in Q2 to 29.8 million, a rise Vipshop attributes in part to new partnerships with the larger Tencent and Such deals could help Vipshop personalize customer experiences through data-sharing arrangements and introduce social elements to its online shopping.

Market value: $3.3 billion



THE KOREAN tech giant established an early lead in its home market for search and other Internet services. Since 2013, its share price has more than doubled, and Naver is poised to extend its reach in cloud services and payment processing, analysts say. LINE, a subsidiary that makes a popular chat app, recently capitalized on a hot trend, introducing a rewards-points-like cryptocurrency called Link that people can use to buy and sell game-related content. Facebook’s struggles, meanwhile, create an opening for Naver to capture more chat market share.

Market value: $17.8 billion


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