The message that America is the land of opportunity appears to have sunk in with creative and driven entrepreneurs from around the world. Although immigrants make up just 13% of the U.S. population, they are responsible for around 25% of new businesses.
Immigrants also occupy executive positions at 20% of the Fortune 500 companies and founded over half of the new Silicon Valley businesses between 1995 and 2005.
Check out some of the largest U.S. companies founded by immigrants.
(Note: Ranking is based on 2016 revenue.)
1. Google (Alphabet, Inc.)
- 2016 Revenue: $99.28 billion
- Employees: 72,000
Google co-founder Sergey Brin was born in Moscow in 1973 and moved to the U.S. in 1979 to escape persecution for being Jewish in the former Soviet Union. After meeting Larry Page at Stanford, the two created a search engine as a research project, which ultimately led to the creation of Google.
Google is the most popular search engine in the world with over 1 trillion searches a day in 2016. Today, Google under its holding company Alphabet Inc.) has a market cap of nearly $640 billion and employs over 72,000 people. Brin’s personal net worth is estimated at over $42 billion.
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2. Intel Inc.
- 2016 Revenue: $61.7 billion
- Employees: 106,000
Andrew Grove (born Andras Grof) was born to a Jewish family in Budapest in 1936 and survived the Nazi regime, fleeing to the U.S. in 1956 after the Hungarian Revolution.
He received a PhD from the University of California Berkeley in 1963 and co-founded Intel in 1971. Intel virtually controlled the microchip industry by the year 2000. Grove was named Time’s Man of the Year in 1997.
Intel employs nearly 106,000 people worldwide.
3. Pfizer Inc.
- 2016 Revenue: $52.3 billion
- Employees: 96,500
Charles Pfizer came to America from Germany in 1849, and started what would become the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. With $2,500 borrowed from his father, he bought a Brooklyn warehouse in which he produced santonin, a drug used to fight parasites.
As his business grew, he focused on pharmaceuticals, providing many of the Civil War battlefield kits used to treat wounds and diseases. Upon his death in 1906, Pfizer had approximately 200 employees and sales of $34 million. Today, Pfizer is a global pharmaceutical giant with a workforce of 96,500 and a drug line that includes Viagra, Lipitor, Celebrex, and many others.
4. Capital One Financial Services.
British-born Nigel Morris co-founded the credit card bank in 1994 with his American partner Richard Fairbank. Capital One was a monoline bank, deriving the vast majority of its revenue from its credit card products. Morris pioneered the use of IT to help target its marketing efforts, growing annual sales at the unheard-of rate of 40% per year over his 10 years leading the company.
5. Kohl’s Corp.
Grocery and department store entrepreneur Maxwell Kohl emigrated from Poland in the 1920s. He opened his first grocery store at age 26 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After turning his first store into a 48-store supermarket chain, he turned his talents to department stores, opening the first Kohl’s Department Store in 1962.
6. Tesla Inc.
Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa. Musk started his undergraduate studies in Canada at Queen’s University, and after two years he transferred to the U.S. to complete two undergraduate degrees in Physics and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Although Musk helped launch numerous tech startups early in his career, his first big windfall came when he co-founded payments company PayPal with Peter Thiel and other Silicon Valley luminaries. However, Musk is best known for co-founding the electric car company Tesla, which he helped launch in 2004.
7. eBay Inc.
- 2016 Revenue: $9.16 billion
eBay founder Pierre Omidyar was born in Paris to Iranian parents. He graduated from Tufts University in 1988 with a degree of computer science. In September of 1995 he created AuctionWeb, a site dedicated to match reliable buyer and sellers.
Following the great success of AuctionWeb, Pierre created eBay to focus on buying and selling through auctions. By the end of 1998, eBay had over 2.1 million members and generated $750 million in revenue.
8. Kraft Foods Inc (now part of Kraft-Heinz).
- 2016 Revenue: $6.7 billion
- Employees: 22,000 (41,000 Kraft-Heinz)
James L. Kraft was born in Ontario, Canada in 1874 and moved to Buffalo, New York in 1902. A year later, he moved to Chicago to start start a wholesaling business with his brothers, a business that later converted into J.L. Kraft & Bros. Co in 1909.
In 1914 Kraft was able to patent the pasteurization of cheese. This was a pivotal moment for the company as he would later then be able to supply cheese in tins, an innovating distribution scheme of cheese at the time. In 2015, Kraft Foods merge with Heinz to create Kraft Heinz, a conglomerate with over 41,000 employees and a market cap of nearly 106 billion.
9. Panda Restaurant Group
- 2016 Revenue: $2.1 billion
- Employees: 24,000
The Panda Restaurant Group, whose flagship fast food chain is Panda Express, was founded by Chinese immigrant Andrew Cherng and his Burmese wife Peggy Cherng in 1983. The couple opened its first Panda Express restaurant in a large Los Angeles shopping mall. Today, the company employs over 24,000 people and has 1,900 restaurants in Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and Dubai.
Turkish-born Hamdi Ulukaya bought a yogurt company in upstate New York in 2005 and introduced his Chobani Greek Yogurt product two years later. Chobani currently employs 2,000 people and its Twin Falls, Idaho, factory is one of the largest yogurt factories in the world.