Top Ten Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants


The consumer economy in the United States is characterized by branding, and if your company is good enough at branding and selling its product, your company will not only become a household name, but synonymous with a particular product. Pfizer is synonymous with drugs and pharmaceuticals. Proctor and Gamble is responsible for the production of some of the most recognizable consumer goods brands in the country. One thing that these two brand behemoths have in common, besides being wildly successful and cornerstones of the American and global economies, are that they were founded by immigrants. In fact, according to The Partnership for the New American Economy, 41 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Additionally, seven of the ten most successful and recognizable American companies in the world were started by immigrants or their children, including Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Marlboro, and Apple, among others. In this week’s Top Ten, we’ll be outlining the ten most viable American companies started by immigrants themselves.

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10. Goldman Sachs

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 68
Immigrant Founder: Marcus Goldman
Country of Origin: Germany
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[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Goldman-Sachs is legendary in the world of investment banking, and it all started with Marcus Goldman and his tiny IOU brokerage, opened in New York in 1869. Goldman was born in Bavaria in Germany in 1821, and emigrated to the US in his 20s. His financial career really took off, however, after the marriage of his youngest daughter to Samuel Sachs, who subsequently joined his father-in-law’s firm. They renamed their business Goldman Sachs, and the rest is history.
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9. Google

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 55
Immigrant Founder: Sergery Brin
Country of Origin: Russia
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[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Sergey Brin and his family emigrated from the Soviet Union when he was six years old. And with a current personal fortune of $31.8 billion, Brin has proven to be one of America’s most valuable imports yet. Google is famously one of the most powerful, ubiquitous internet companies in the world, and as such, one of the most recognizable – the Google brand jumped 26 percent on Forbes’ list of the worlds most valuable brands this year.
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8. Intel

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 54
Immigrant Founder: Andrew Grove
Country of Origin: Hungary
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[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Although Grove isn’t technically listed as a co-founder of Intel (he was the third employee after the two co-founders), his decision to move Intel toward the production of microprocessors made the company what it is today. During his tenure as CEO, Grove facilitated a 4,500% increase in Intel’s market capitalization from $4 billion to $197 billion. Grove was born into a Jewish family in Budapest in 1936, where he and his family lived through a Nazi occupation and Hungarian Revolution before he escaped to the states in 1956.
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7. United Technologies

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 50
Immigrant Founder: Igor Sikorsky
Country of Origin: Russia
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[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details:  Sikorsky was born in 1889 in present-day Ukraine, but made his way to the United States in 1923 in order to pursue a career in aviation. And that he did – not only did he found the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (later to become United Technologies), but he revolutionized American aviation. He developed the first of the Pan-American Airways flying boats in the early 1930s, and in 1939, built and flew the first viable helicopter in America – most helicopter manufacturers utilize the Sikorsky’s rotor technology in their aircraft today.
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6. Pfizer

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 48
Immigrant Founder: Charles Pfizer, Charles Erhart
Country of Origin: Germany
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[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Pfizer and Erhart were cousins, born three years apart in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Pfizer, a chemist, and Erhart, a confectioner, borrow $2500 from Pfizer’s father to set up a chemical manufacturer in Brooklyn in 1849. As their reputation for the production of high-quality chemicals grew, Pfizer expanded across New York City, and their production repertoire evolved to producing citric acid, tartaric acid, and oxytetracycline, an alternative to penicillin. According to the Pfizer website, at the time of Charles Pfizer’s death in 1906, Pfizer and Co., Inc. experienced almost $3.5 million in sales and employed more than two hundred people.
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5. Comcast

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 48
Immigrant Founder: Daniel Aaron
Country of Origin: Germany
[/su_column] [su_column size=”2/3″] comcastLogo[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Daniel Aaron founded what would become Comcast in 1963 with Ralph J. Roberts in Tupelo, MS, but not before overcoming some incredible obstacles in his upbringing. Aaron was born outside of Frankfurt, Germany in 1926. His father, a Jew in Nazi Germany, was briefly imprisoned, but he and his family escaped and emigrated to Queens, New York. However, in 1939, his parents killed themselves within three weeks of each other, leaving Aaron an orphan at the age of thirteen. Even in the wake of this family tragedy, however, Aaron went to college and started a career in journalism, which exposed him to the fledgling industry of cable news. At the time of his death in 2003, Comcast was the largest cable provider in the United States.
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4. INTL FCStone

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 39
Immigrant Founder: Saul Stone
Country of Origin: Russia
[/su_column] [su_column size=”2/3″] WebLogo8[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Saul Stone grew up in Russia, but emigrated to Chicago in 1921 because of persecution pressures in his home country. When he died in 1992, he was considered one of the most influential figures in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, although this influence had humble foundations – he started his own door-to-door egg wholesale business in 1924. His firm steadily grew, however, into hedging futures contracts and a variety of commodities trading. His company was incorporated as Saul Stone & Co. in the 1940s, and by this time, Stone was a pioneer in dealing in foreign currencies. Because of his influence, in 1988 the mayor of Chicago and the governor of Illinois declared June 6th to be Saul Stone Day.


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3. AmerisourceBergen

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 32
Immigrant Founder: Lucien Brunswig
Country of Origin: France
[/su_column] [su_column size=”2/3″] amerisource[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Brunswig emigrated to Fort Worth, TX in the 1870s to be a druggist after growing up in Montmedy, France. Five years after founding his own pharmaceutical distributor in 1887, his wife and his young son passed away within a month of each other. In light of this, he left the South for Los Angeles in 1903, where he bought into a local drug company. Brunswig would come to buy out his partner, expand across LA and into Tucson and San Diego, and donate the School of Pharmacy to USC, eventually becoming LA’s largest pharmaceutical supplier. After his death, his company merged with the Bergen Drug Company to eventually become AmerisourceBergen, one of the largest drug suppliers in the world.
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2. Proctor & Gamble

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 28
Immigrant Founder: William Proctor, James Gamble
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
[/su_column] [su_column size=”2/3″] PG[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Proctor & Gamble as we know it today only exists because William Proctor and James Gamble’s father-in-law (they married sisters) convinced them to go into business together. Proctor and Gamble had experience in candle and soap-making, respectively, so when they started their business in 1837, predictably they were soap and candle producers. Winning a contract with the Union Army to make soap and candles during the Civil War is what allowed Proctor & Gamble to take off; not only did business increase, but soldiers across the country were becoming familiar with their products. Today, P&G has twenty-five brands with more than one billion dollars in net sales annually, including Charmin, Tide, and Olay.
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1. AT&T/Verizon

Rank in 2013 Fortune 500: 11/16
Immigrant Founder: Alexander Graham Bell
Country of Origin: Scotland
[/su_column] [su_column size=”2/3″] attVerizon[/su_column] [/su_row] [su_row] Details: Alexander Graham Bell’s name can be listed among many venerated American inventors and innovators, and, of course, he is credited with the invention of the first telephone. However Bell was an immigrant – he came to the States and Canada from Edinborough, Scotland. He shouldn’t technically be on this list because he wasn’t the original founder of the Bell Telephone Company; his father-in-law, born in Boston, first organized the company to hold Bell’s patent on the first telephone, as it was often legally challenged by competitors in the foundational days of the company. But, needless to say, Bell is canonized as an American legend, and AT&T and Verizon, the two telecommunication behemoths, are the “great-grandchildren” of the Bell Telephone Company.



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