Who are the world's great software companies?

In my previous post, I asked – and tried to answer – the question "What does it mean to be one of the world’s great software companies?". As part of my answer I listed some companies who I think are among the world’s great software companies, and those who aren’t. Here’s my list:

My list of the world’s great software companies

Microsoft – it defined the genre
Apple – because of its passion for design and its products
Google – because of what it does and how it does it
Oracle – an enormous success
Adobe – less sure about this one
The SAS Institute – the world’s largest privately held software company and regularly voted one of the top places to work for in the US

My list of not the world’s great software companies

Yahoo – drifting
Symantec – shoddy products
Facebook – flash in the pan

Somewhat predictably, everybody disagrees with my choices.

So my question to you is:

Who is, and who isn’t, one of the world’s great software companies?

You can give your answers on this survey:


I’ll be giving $100 of amazon vouchers to one respondent, chosen at random.

This is the second post in a series of 3 about the world’s great
software companies. I’ll publish the results of the survey later on in the week. Make sure you subscribe to the RSS feed and don’t miss out.

2 responses to “Who are the world's great software companies?”

  1. Rex Gibson says:

    One comment I have is that companies in this list appear to be in a fundamentally different from the type of business that Red Gate has been in thus far. I wonder if you might have a difficult time trying to gather information about other companies that may not be directly applicable to yours. Indirect lessons are always good though.
    It seems to me, your business is making tools for tool makers. Or perhaps making peoples ideas better than they were originally. I think of you almost like BASF for techies except you are the vender. Products Like SQL Backup, Formatting, Dev Tools, SQL COMPARE (my absolute favorite) help you better use or replace someone else’s tools. In my opinion there is nobody else at the same class for your business.
    I think that in a way you are already there, but of course there is ALWAYS room for improvement. I can see from a certain perspective why you would want to go after these guys. I just hope its gets you what you are looking for.
    Specifically I wonder if part of your query paradigm is fame. I do not mean this in a negative context. Why do makers build things if not at least in part for the glory? That is certainly why However, these companies are all rather well known amongst “non tool makers”. Intrinsically, your fame and thus consideration has a much smaller audience. Another problem is that you went and made your tools work and affordable.
    Ultimately I think if you really want to get into that league you would need to develop a consumer product or at least a first level tool to compete.
    My 2 cents. Great posts.

  2. Rex Gibson says:

    Please forgive my grammar. I just quit smoking on Saturday.
    First sentence should be:
    This list appears to contain a fundamentally different type of business from that of Red Gate.
    Correction 3rd Paragraph:
    Why do makers build things if not at least in part for the glory? From your blog I would assume that true of you and your company. However, these companies are all rather well known amongst “non tool makers”.
    My Apologies.