50 Smartest Companies 2016
Our editors pick the 50 companies that best combine innovative technology with an effective business model.
WhyCall out a request and AI-powered Alexa will play your favorite song or order you a pizza. And Amazon Web Services just keeps growing.Company Details
$89.99What the Echo Dot, the most affordable device to feature Alexa Voice Service, sells for.
WhyChina’s leading search engine is developing autonomous cars, backed by a big research and engineering team in Silicon Valley.Company Details
100Baidu plans to employ more than 100 autonomous-car researchers and engineers in California by year’s end.
WhyThe world’s largest DNA-sequencing company is moving beyond simply selling equipment to expand its uses: a company it’s launching, Grail, intends to develop a blood test that would screen for cancer before symptoms appear.Company Details
$2.2 billionRevenue reached last year, up 19 percent from the previous year.
WhyWhile advancing autopilot technology in its Model S and X cars, the company is taking electric vehicles mainstream with its $35,000 Model 3 car, which already has 400,000 pre-orders.Company Details
50 percentAccording to CEO Elon Musk, drivers have a 50 percent lower chance of having an accident when driving with Tesla Autopilot.
WhyIts innovative batteries for the power grid make this startup unusually successful in a tough industry.Company Details
BackersInclude Bill Gates, Shell.
WhyA leader in making driver assistance technology such as collision warning systems for clients including Tesla, General Motors, and Volkswagen, among others, it is working on advances that will enable fully autonomous cars.Company Details
600Number of employees who are annotating the images used to train its autonomous driving system.
WhyAfter a two-year moratorium, 23andMe has resumed selling direct-to-consumer DNA tests that assess risk for genetic diseases.Company Details
One millionThe company has sequenced the DNA of more than one million customers.
WhyIts DeepMind business inside Google developed an AI program that beat one of the world’s best players at the board game Go.Company Details
1.6 millionNumber of miles Alphabet’s autonomous cars have driven so far.
WhyVery strong trial data on its gene therapy for a form of blindness implies that the treatment is headed for approval.Company Details
CollaboratorsCorporate collaborators have included Pfizer, Genable Technologies, and Clearside Biomedical.
WhyThis Chinese telecommunications giant is now the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor thanks to strong sales in both premium and entry-level devices.Company Details
27.5 millionNumber of smartphones Huawei shipped in the first quarter of 2016, according to market researcher IDC.
WhyWhile rivals face bankruptcy, it has continued to invest in research, increasing the efficiency of solar panels.Company Details
$546 millionProfits earned in 2015.
WhyWith deep learning driving demand for its graphics-processing chips, it started selling chips designed for AI.Company Details
$1.3 billionRevenue increased 13 percent in the most recent quarter, to $1.3 billion, compared with $1.15 billion a year ago.
WhyLast summer a hospital in London used Cellectis’s gene-editing technology to heal a child with otherwise untreatable leukemia.Company Details
$300 millionThough not profitable, the company has over $300 million in cash, enough to last through 2018.
WhyA number of Australian radiologists are now using the company’s deep-learning software to analyze x-rays.Company Details
50 percentClaims its algorithm read chest CT images 50 percent more accurately than experts in its own test.
WhyIts Oculus Rift technology is the first truly high-quality virtual-reality headset for consumers.Company Details
$599Rift sells for $599.
WhyThe company is making spaceflight cheaper with rockets that can land and be reused.Company Details
FourNumber of times SpaceX attempted to land a rocket on a barge before succeeding.
WhyDramatically rethinking its future, the carmaker has committed $1 billion to an automation institute.Company Details
LeaderRoboticist Gill Pratt is CEO of the Toyota Research Institute.
WhyBuilding an operating system for commercial drones, as well as a traffic control system that could increase their usefulness.Company Details
LeaderAirware’s founder and CEO also leads an investment fund that supports businesses creating technologies for commercial drones.
WhyIts large-scale desalination process is winning big contracts in China and Australia.Company Details
30 percentBy October IDE will be producing 30 percent of Santa Barbara’s water.
WhyAsia’s largest Internet company, which owns the popular WeChat messaging app, is expanding into the enterprise market and investing in other technology companies.Company Details
78 percentTencent’s largest business segment, mostly games, accounts for 78 percent of its revenue.
WhyApple’s $1 billion investment, part of $7 billion raised this year, will help the Chinese ride-hailing app continue to fend off Uber.Company Details
14 millionNumber of rides its drivers complete a day.
WhyIt’s begun selling a DNA sequencer the size of a smartphone that may move genomics out of the lab and into the field.Company Details
Intellectual propertyIllumina, once an investor, is now suing the company for patent infringement.
WhyCreated a more efficient lithium-ion battery that could reduce the cost of energy storage for the electric grid and electric vehicles.Company Details
50 percentThe company claims it can reduce the cost of lithium-ion batteries by 50 percent.
WhyE-commerce site is now the world’s largest retailer and will benefit from the growth in mobile video ads.Company Details
$485 billionGross value of merchandise sold through Alibaba in its last fiscal year.
WhyUses of its life-saving immunotherapy, Opdivo, has expanded to lung cancer, advanced renal-cell carcinoma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.Company Details
Five yearsOne-third of patients with advanced melanoma survived for five years in a study of Opdivo.
WhyIts neural-network research is leading to applications such as simultaneous language translation in Skype and social augmented-reality experiences in its new HoloLens headset.Company Details
152A Microsoft network that won a global image recognition contest in 2015 used 152 layers of virtual neurons.
WhyWorld’s largest maker of industrial robots is incorporating machine learning.Company Details
EightNumber of hours a Fanuc robot needs to learn a task with 90 percent accuracy.
WhyIts smart batteries, which include software to manage energy use and can store energy for later, are transforming the electricity market in Germany.Company Details
25 percentElectricity on its system is 25 percent cheaper than the electricity on the grid, according to the company.
WhyIts virtual-world simulation platform is used to create VR software and test driverless cars.Company Details
FundingAndreessen Horowitz is a major backer.
WhyIts computer-vision chips are making mobile devices and drones smarter.Company Details
On the radarDrones using Movidius technology can sense obstacles to avoid collisions.
WhyThe Oxitec division of this biotech holding company genetically engineers mosquitoes that could reduce the spread of Zika.Company Details
$174 millionAcquisitions increased sales from $8 million to $174 million in five years.
WhyIts new kind of 3-D printing is dozens of times faster than rivals’.Company Details
$40,000Use of its 3-D printers costs $40,000 a year.
WhyAdvanced manufacturing facilities it is developing rely on connected sensors and sophisticated software to improve factory efficiency.Company Details
$80 billionRecord revenue generated in 2015.
WhyIts flexible tool for diagnosing abnormalities more quickly has FDA approval for certain uses, including detecting a fungus that causes sepsis.Company Details
35Number of customers who now use the company’s bench-top diagnostic system.
WhyPlans to begin testing a powerful new form of gene repair in humans within two years.Company Details
$94 millionMoney raised in its February IPO, and the stock is up 85 percent since then.
WhyFood giant has jumped into microbiome research, working to develop “healthy gut” products.Company Details
$2 billionAt a slow time for its core food business, its nutritional therapies division has reached $2 billion in annual revenue in its first five years, and more strong growth is predicted.
WhyHas begun first human trials of optogenetics, using light-triggered genetic changes to restore some vision to people with retinitis pigmentosa.Company Details
$12 millionRevenue raised from foundations and private investors as well as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
WhyThe Japanese messaging app is quick to add innovative features, such as group calls for up to 200 people, and plans an IPO this year.Company Details
218 millionNumber of monthly active users.
WhyThis money-transfer service, with a peer-to-peer model for sending money abroad, aims to charge lower fees than traditional players.Company Details
$750 millionMoney TransferWise helps users exchange every month.
WhyAttempting to sell low-cost genome tests directly to consumers.Company Details
$1,000Whole-genome sequencing, including interpretation and counseling, costs under $1,000. The supply is limited to 5,000 customers in 2016.
WhyWith clients like JPMorgan Chase, Sony Pictures, and Target, it’s creating a new model for computer security on a large scale.Company Details
In the worksNew products focus on securing public and private clouds and detecting targeted e-mail attacks.
WhyIts software makes it possible to analyze one of the world’s largest genomic data sets.Company Details
11,000Number of patients that have contributed 33 cancer types and subtypes to its Cancer Genomics Cloud.
WhyThe workplace communications app burrows more deeply into workplaces. Now you can use your Slack login for all the software your company uses.Company Details
Three millionNumber of daily active Slack users.
WhySouth Korea’s largest and fastest-growing online-only retailer is innovating in mobile commerce and same-day delivery.Company Details
$5 billionCoupang’s most recent valuation.
WhyPreparing for an AI era by acquiring huge data sets to train its software.Company Details
100Number of clients that have built Watson into a product.
WhyBuilding out its advertising business by partnering with Viacom to sell ads and with Nielsen for marketing campaign data.Company Details
10 billionNumber of videos that are seen on the app every day.
WhyThis e-commerce company is the continent’s first tech company to be valued at more than $1 billion.Company Details
26Africa Internet Group operates in 26 African countries.
WhyMaker of electronic building blocks has accelerated its growth with new funding, new investors, and new distribution.Company Details
$299Basic kits sell for $99 to $299.
WhyIn a time of transition, the chip maker is experimenting with reprogrammable processors for deep neural networks and marketing a fundamentally new kind of computer memory.Company Details
$16.7 billionMoney Intel spent to buy Altera, a maker of programmable logic devices.
WhyUsing RNA interference to create alternatives to conventional GMOs.Company Details
$1.5 billionMoney invested last year in research on new biotech traits, genomics, and more.