Each year since 1955, Fortune Magazine has published a list of the 500 largest American companies by revenue, among U.S. publicly listed companies and private companies with publicly available financial data.
In 2011, New American Economy (NAE) – a non-partisan policy organization of 500 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders – analyzed the national origin of the 2010 Fortune 500 company founders, finding that more than 40 percent had at least one founder who was an immigrant or the child an immigrant.
Given the on-going national debate regarding immigration policy – and the well-established importance of immigrants to entrepreneurship in the United States – the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) has analyzed the Fortune 500 data for 2017. We found that 43 percent of these companies were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. We also found that the occurrence of first- or second-generation immigrant founders is significantly higher among the largest Fortune 500 companies – accounting for 52 percent of the top 25 firms and 57 percent of the top 35 firms.
Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 firms are headquartered in 33 of the 50 states, employ 12.8 million people worldwide, and accounted for $5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016.
The results are striking and should be carefully considered by policymakers as they continue to deliberate the fate of 800,000 so-called DREAMers – undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children – and U.S. immigration policy more generally. In particular, the analysis provides compelling support for the creation of an entrepreneur visa, an important aspect of the Startup Act, bipartisan legislation reintroduced by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mark Warner (D-VA) on September 28th.
The findings of CAE’s analysis – along with a vast research literature – demonstrate the remarkable and persistent importance of immigrants to the creation and growth of America’s largest, most successful, and most valuable companies.
Imagine if These Pioneers Had Never Made It to America…
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Immigrant-Founded Companies Make Up a Large Share of Fortune 500 Companies, Concentrated Among the Top 50
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Number of Firms
Share of immigrant founders
in the fortune 20
Immigrant-founded companies account for 20 of the top 36 Fortune 500 companies, or 0%.
Immigrant-Founded Companies are In Every Industry Across the Fortune 500
Immigrant-Founded Fortune 500 Companies Are Headquartered Across the United States
33 of 50 States Host Headquarters of Immigrant-Founded Fortune 500 Companies
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Forbes Brand Rankings
In Addition to Accounting for a Large Share of the Fortune 500 Firms, Companies Founded by First- or Second-Generation Immigrants are also 9 of the 13 Most Valuable Brands In The World, As Determined By Forbes Magazine.
American entrepreneur, businessman, inventor, and industrial designer.
Apple Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets personal computers and related personal computing and mobile communication devices along with a variety of related software, services, peripherals, and networking solutions.
|Country of Origin||Syria|
Russian-born American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur.
Alphabet Inc. is a holding company. The Company's businesses include Google Inc. (Google) and its Internet products, such as Access, Calico, CapitalG, GV, Nest, Verily, Waymo and X.
|Country of Origin||Russia|
Brazilian Internet entrepreneur and angel investor.
Facebook, Inc. is focused on building products that enable people to connect and share through mobile devices, personal computers and other surfaces.
|Country of Origin||Brazil|
American technology and retail entrepreneur, investor, computer scientist, and philanthropist.
Amazon.com, Inc. is an online retailer that offers a range of products and services through its websites. The company’s products include merchandise and content that it purchases for resale from vendors and those offered by third-party sellers. It also manufactures and sells electronic devices.
|Country of Origin||Cuba|
Walt Disney, Roy Disney
American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer.
The Walt Disney Company is an entertainment company that conducts operations in media networks, studio entertainment, theme parks and resorts, consumer products, and interactive media. The company produces motion pictures, television programs, and musical recordings, as well as books and magazines.
|Country of Origin||Canada|
Richard and Maurice McDonald, Ray Kroc
Founders of the original McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernardino, California and inventors of the 'Speedee Service System.'
McDonald's Corporation (McDonald's) operates and franchises McDonald's restaurants. The Company's restaurants serve a locally relevant menu of food and drinks sold at various price points in over 100 countries.
|Country of Origin||Ireland, Czech Republic|
American inventor and businessman.
General Electric is a global digital industrial company. The company's products and services range from aircraft engines, power generation, and oil and gas production equipment to medical imaging, financing and industrial products.
|Country of Origin||Canada|
Alexander Graham Bell
Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator.
AT&T Inc. is a holding company. The Company is a provider of communications and digital entertainment services in the United States and around the world.
|Country of Origin||Scotland|
American inventor who developed an electromechanical punched card tabulator to assist in summarizing information and, later, accounting.
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is a technology company that operates through five segments: Cognitive Solutions, Global Business Services (GBS), Technology Services & Cloud Platforms, Systems and Global Financing.
|Country of Origin||Germany|
- 2017 Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or the Children of Immigrants, by State
State Total Fortune 500 Companies Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Founded Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Share Alabama 1 1 100% Arizona 4 2 50% Arkansas 6 1 17% California 53 25 47% Colorado 10 3 30% Connecticut 18 6 33% Delaware 2 2 100% District of Columbia 2 0 0% Florida 17 9 53% Georgia 17 6 35% Idaho 2 0 0% Illinois 36 18 50% Indiana 7 2 29% Iowa 3 2 67% Kansas 2 2 100% Kentucky 3 1 33% Louisiana 2 1 50% Maryland 4 1 25% Massachusetts 13 8 62% Michigan 17 7 41% Minnesota 18 6 33% Missouri 10 3 30% Nebraska 4 1 25% Nevada 2 2 100% New Jersey 21 8 38% New York 54 32 59% North Carolina 12 5 42% Ohio 25 9 36% Oklahoma 5 1 20% Oregon 2 0 0% Pennsylvania 21 9 43% Rhode Island 4 0 0% Tennessee 11 1 9% Texas 50 17 34% Virginia 23 13 57% Washington 10 7 70% Wisconsin 9 5 56%
Source: CAE analysis of Fortune Magazine data
- 2017 Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or the Children of Immigrants, by Metropolitan Area
Metro Area Total Fortune 500 Companies Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Founded Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Share Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 2 1 50% Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 15 5 33% Austin-Round Rock, TX 2 0 0% Battle Creek, MI 1 0 0% Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg, MD 4 1 25% Birmingham-Hoover, AL 1 1 100% Bloomington-Normal, IL 1 1 100% Boise City-Nampa, ID 2 0 0% Boston-Quincy, MA 4 1 25% Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 12 4 33% Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 1 0 0% Burlington, NC 1 1 100% Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA 7 7 100% Camden, NJ 2 1 50% Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 1 1 100% Cedar Rapids, IA 1 0 0% Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC 5 2 40% Chattanooga, TN-GA 1 0 0% Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL 22 11 50% Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN 8 3 38% Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH 5 0 0% Columbus, GA-AL 1 0 0% Columbus, IN 1 0 0% Columbus, OH 5 2 40% Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX 19 8 42% Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL 1 1 100% Denver-Aurora, CO 10 3 30% Des Moines, IA 2 2 100% Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI 5 2 40% Durham, NC 1 1 100% Edison, NJ 1 0 0% El Paso, TX 1 0 0% Erie, PA 1 0 0% Evansville, IN-KY 1 0 0% Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO 3 0 0% Fort Wayne, IN 1 1 100% Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 3 0 0% Ft Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield, FL 1 1 100% Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 1 0 0% Greensboro-High Point, NC 1 1 100% Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 2 0 0% Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 5 2 40% Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, TX 20 9 45% Indianapolis, IN 3 1 33% Jackson, MI 1 1 100% Jacksonville, FL 3 3 100% Kalamazoo-Portage, MI 1 0 0% Kansas City, MO-KS 1 1 100% Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA 1 0 0% Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI 11 5 45% Lakeland, FL 1 0 0% Lansing-East Lansing, MI 1 0 0% Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 2 2 100% Little Rock-North Little Rock, AR 2 1 50% Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 12 6 50% Louisville, KY-IN 3 1 33% Madison, WI 1 1 100% Medford, OR 1 0 0% Memphis, TN-MS-AR 3 1 33% Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL 3 1 33% Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 7 3 43% Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 17 5 29% Monroe, LA 1 0 0% Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro, TN 6 0 0% Nassau-Suffolk, NY 1 1 100% New Haven-Milford, CT 1 0 0% New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA 1 1 100% New York-Wayne-White Plains, NY-NJ 55 31 56% Newark-Union, NJ-PA 12 7 58% Niles-Benton Harbor, MI 1 0 0% Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA 5 4 80% Oklahoma City, OK 2 0 0% Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 4 1 25% Orlando, FL 1 0 0% Oshkosh-Neenah, WI 1 1 100% Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 1 0 0% Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 1 1 100% Peoria, IL 1 0 0% Philadelphia, PA 10 5 50% Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 4 2 50% Pittsburgh, PA 6 3 50% Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 1 0 0% Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA 4 0 0% Richmond, VA 8 5 63% Roanoke, VA 1 1 100% Rochester, NY 1 0 0% San Antonio, TX 5 0 0% San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 2 1 50% San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA 13 4 31% San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 17 10 59% Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA 3 0 0% Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA 10 7 70% Springfield, MA 2 0 0% Springfield, MO 1 1 100% St. Louis, MO-IL 9 2 22% Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 4 1 25% Toledo, OH 3 2 67% Trenton-Ewing, NJ 1 0 0% Tulsa, OK 3 1 33% Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA 3 2 67% Warren-Farmington-Hills-Troy, MI 5 3 60% Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA 13 5 38% West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton, FL 2 1 50% Wichita, KS 1 1 100% Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ 2 2 100% Winston-Salem, NC 3 0 0% Non-Metropolitan Areas 11 5 45%
Source: CAE analysis of Fortune Magazine data
- 2017 Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or the Children of Immigrants, by Industry
Industry Total Fortune 500 Companies Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Founded Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Share Business Services 22 14 64% Consumer Goods 41 20 49% Energy 60 19 32% Finance/Insurance 79 26 33% Health Care 21 5 24% High-Tech 98 45 46% Industrials 41 23 56% Media/Entertainment 16 9 56% Transportation/Logistics 35 18 51% Wholesale/Retail 87 37 43%
Source: CAE analysis of Fortune Magazine data
- 2017 Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or the Children of Immigrants, by Company, Founder, and Country of Origin
Rank Company Name Foreign Status Relevant Founder Country of Origin 3 Apple Child Steve Jobs Syria 9 AT&T Immigrant Alexander Graham Bell Scotland 10 Ford Motor Child Henry Ford Ireland 11 AmerisourceBergen Immigrant Lucien Brunswig France 12 Amazon.com Child Jeff Bezos Cuba 13 General Electric Immigrant Elihu Thomson, Thomas Edison (child) Canada 14 Verizon Communications Immigrant Alexander Graham Bell Scotland 16 Costco Wholesale Child Jeffrey Brotman Canada 17 Walgreens Boots Alliance Child Charles R. Walgreen Sweden 18 Kroger Child Bernard Kroger Germany 21 JPMorgan Chase & Co. Child Anthony Drexel Czech Republic 23 Home Depot Child Bernie Marcus Russia 24 Boeing Child William E. Boeing Germany, Austria 26 Bank of America Corp. Child Amadeo Giannini Italy 27 Alphabet Immigrant Sergey Brin Russia 30 Citigroup Child Sandy Weill Poland 31 Comcast Immigrant Daniel Aaron Germany 32 International Business Machines Child Herman Hollerith Germany 33 State Farm Insurance Cos. Child George Jacob "G.J." Mecherle Germany 34 Phillips 66 Child E.W. Marland England, Scotland 36 Procter & Gamble Immigrant William Procter, James Gamble England, Ireland 44 PepsiCo Immigrant William Loft, Charles Guth (child) England, Germany 46 United Parcel Service Child James Casey Ireland 50 United Technologies Child Frederick Rentschler Germany 51 Marathon Petroleum Child Henry M. Ernst Germany 52 Walt Disney Child Walt Disney, Roy Disney Canada 54 Pfizer Immigrant Charles Pfizer, Charles Erhart Germany 56 Lockheed Martin Child Allan and Malcolm Lockheed England 57 Sysco Child Herbert Irving Russia 62 Dow Chemical Immigrant Herbert Henry Dow Canada 69 Merck Child George Merck Germany 70 Cigna Immigrant John M. Nesbitt Ireland 73 Honeywell International Immigrant Albert Butz Switzerland 78 Goldman Sachs Group Immigrant Marcus Goldman Germany 80 TIAA Immigrant Andrew Carnegie Scotland 81 Oracle Child Larry Ellison, Bob Miner Russia, Iran 83 United Continental Holdings Child William Boeing Germany, Austria 87 TJX Immigrant Max and Morris Feldberg Russia 89 Exelon Immigrant Samuel Insull England 90 General Dynamics Immigrant John Philip Holland Ireland 94 3M Child John Dwan Canada 98 Immigrant Eduardo Saverin Brazil 100 Capital One Financial Immigrant Nigel Morris England 101 Twenty-First Century Fox Immigrant William Fox, Joseph Schenck Hungary, Russia 104 Philip Morris International Immigrant Gustave Eckmeyer Germany 105 Deere Child John Deere England 106 Kraft Heinz Child Henry J. Heinz Germany 108 Avnet Immigrant Charles Avnet Russia 109 Mondelez International Immigrant James L. Kraft Canada 112 McDonald's Child Richard and Maurice McDonald, Ray Kroc Ireland, Czech Republic 113 DuPont Immigrant E.I. du Pont France 114 Northrop Grumman Child Bill Schwendler Germany 115 ConocoPhillips Child E.W. Marland England, Scotland 116 Raytheon Child Laurence K. Marshall, Vannevar Bush, Charles G. Smith Canada 119 Qualcomm Immigrant Andrew Viterbi Italy 125 U.S. Bancorp Immigrant Donald Macleay Scotland 129 AutoNation Child H. Wayne Huizenga Holland 133 International Paper Immigrant Hugh Chisholm Canada 134 Tenet Healthcare Child Uranus J. Appel Austria-Hungary 136 Dollar Tree Child Macon Brock Jr. Canada 139 Emerson Electric Immigrant Charles and Alexander Meston Scotland 140 Staples Child Thomas G. Stemberg Austria 145 Southern Child Henry M. Atkinson England 146 ManpowerGroup Child Elmer L. Winter Austria 148 Altria Group Immigrant Gustave Eckmeyer Germany 149 Fluor Immigrant John Simon Fluor Sr. Switzerland 150 Kohl's Immigrant Maxwell Kohl Poland 151 Lear Child Frederick C. Matthaei Germany 154 Thermo Fisher Scientific Immigrant George Hatsopoulos Greece 157 PG&E Corp. Immigrant George Roe Canada 164 Paccar Child William Pigott Ireland 172 PBF Energy Child Peter G. Peterson Greece 174 CarMax Child Samuel S. Wurtzel Austria and Russia 175 Freeport-McMoRan Child Eric P. Swenson Sweden 177 Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Immigrant Thomas Mellon Northern Ireland 179 Omnicom Group Child William Bernbach Russia, Austria 180 Genuine Parts Child Carlyle Fraser Canada 182 Colgate-Palmolive Immigrant William Colgate England 183 PPG Industries Immigrant John Pitcairn Jr. Scotland 185 Synchrony Financial Immigrant Elihu Thomson, Thomas Edison (child) England, Canada 188 Nordstrom Immigrant John W. Nordstrom Sweden 189 INTL FCStone Immigrant Diego Veitia Cuba 190 WestRock Child William Luke Scotland 192 Aramark Child Davre J. Davidson Poland 193 CBS Child William S. Paley Ukraine 195 WellCare Health Plans Immigrant Kiran C. Patel, Pradip C. Patel Zambia 198 Synnex Immigrant Robert T. "Bob" Huang Taiwan 201 Waste Management Child H. Wayne Huizenga Holland 202 Illinois Tool Works Child Jack Leslie Scotland 203 Office Depot Child Jack Kopkin Russia 204 Monsanto Child John Francis Queeny Ireland 206 Texas Instruments Immigrant Cecil Green, J. Erik Jonsson (child), Patrick Haggerty (child) England, Sweden, Norway 210 Marsh & McLennan Child Donald L. McLennan Scotland 212 C.H. Robinson Worldwide Child Charles Henry Robinson Ireland 213 Loews Child Marcus Loew Austria, Germany 214 CBRE Group Child Albert Nion Tucker, John Conant Lynch Ireland 218 Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America Immigrant Hugo Wesendonck Germany 219 Ross Stores Child Stuart G. Moldaw Russia 220 L Brands Child Leslie H. Wexner Russia 222 Farmers Insurance Exchange Child Thomas E. Leavey Ireland 224 Viacom Child William S. Paley Ukraine 227 Principal Financial Immigrant Archibald Graham "A.G." McIlwaine Ireland 230 VF Child John Barbey Germany 233 Bed Bath & Beyond Child Warren Einsenberg Russia 234 Consolidated Edison Child Thomas Edison Canada 240 Automatic Data Processing Child Henry Taub Poland 241 Hilton Worldwide Holdings Child Conrad Hilton Norway 243 Henry Schein Immigrant Esther Schein Russia 247 Core-Mark Holding Immigrant Michaelis Glaser, Arnold Glaser Germany 248 Biogen Immigrant Charles Weissmann, Ivor Royston Hungary and Switzerland, England 249 Las Vegas Sands Immigrant Jake Freedman Russia 253 Estée Lauder Child Estée Lauder, Joseph Lauder Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Hungary 254 Celgene Immigrant Sol Barer Germany 257 CSX Immigrant Cyrus S. Eaton Canada 259 Jacobs Engineering Group Child Joseph J. Jacobs Lebanon 260 Lennar Child Arnold Rosen Poland 262 Leucadia National Child Joseph S. Steinberg Ukraine and Belarus 263 Entergy Immigrant Elihu Thomson, Thomas Edison (child) England, Canada 264 PayPal Holdings Immigrant Max Levchin, Luke Nosek, Peter Thiel Russia, Poland, Germany 268 Priceline Group Child Jay S. Walker Germany 273 L3 Technologies Child Allan Loughead England 275 Praxair Immigrant Carl von Linde Germany 278 Occidental Petroleum Child Armand Hammer Russia 279 United States Steel Immigrant Andrew Carnegie Scotland 281 Baxter International Child Donald Baxter Germany 282 W.W. Grainger Child William W. Grainger Scotland 290 Laboratory Corp. of America Child Charles and Joseph Revson Lithuania and Poland 292 Advance Auto Parts Child Arthur Taubman Austria-Hungary 293 Fidelity National Financial Immigrant C.V. Gillespie England 294 Air Products & Chemicals Child Leonard P. Pool England 295 Hormel Foods Child George A. Hormel Germany 296 Hertz Global Holdings Child Walter L. Jacobs Germany 297 MGM Resorts International Child Kerkor "Kirk" Kerkorian Armenia 301 Fidelity National Information Services Immigrant C.V. Gillespie England 305 BorgWarner Immigrant Charles Borg, Marshall Beck, George Schebler Sweden, Germany, Germany 306 Ball Child Edmund B. Ball, Frank C. Ball Canada 310 eBay Immigrant Pierre Omidyar France 311 Mohawk Industries Immigrant John, James, Walter, and Herbert Shuttleworth, William McCleary England (4x), Ireland 312 Oneok Child Dennis T. Flynn Ireland 314 Netflix Child Marc Randolph Austria 315 American Family Insurance Group Child Herman Wittwer Switzerland 316 Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Immigrant Albert Voecks Germany 319 Avis Budget Group Child Morey Mirkin Russia 320 Reliance Steel & Aluminum Child Thomas J. Neilan Ireland 322 Tenneco Child August F. Meyer, William A. Walker Germany, England 323 O'Reilly Automotive Child Charles Francis O'Reilly Ireland 324 Peter Kiewit Sons' Child Peter and Andrew Kiewit Holland 327 Boston Scientific Child Peter M. Nicholas Greece 329 Genworth Financial Immigrant Archibald Graham "A.G." McIlwaine Ireland 331 Veritiv Immigrant Hugh Chisholm Canada 332 News Corp. Immigrant Rupert Murdoch Australia 333 Crown Holdings Immigrant William Painter Ireland 334 Global Partners Immigrant Abraham Slifka Poland 335 PVH Immigrant Moses and Endel Phillips, John Van Heusen Poland, Holland 336 Level 3 Communications Child Peter and Andrew Kiewit Holland 338 Univar Child Nat Rogers Canada 341 Weyerhaeuser Immigrant Frederick Weyerhaeuser Germany 345 Interpublic Group Child Alfred W. Erickson Sweden 346 J.M. Smucker Child Jerome Smucker Switzerland 347 Steel Dynamics Immigrant Mark Millett England 359 Anixter International Child Samuel Zell Poland 362 CenterPoint Energy Immigrant Thomas W. House England 363 Harris Child Charles G. Harris, Alfred F. Harris England 371 Ralph Lauren Child Ralph Lauren Belarus 372 Masco Immigrant Alex Manoogian Turkey 375 National Oilwell Varco Immigrant Baldwin Reinhold, Walter Abegg Switzerland 377 Mosaic Child William W. Cargill Scotland 378 Alliance Data Systems Child Leslie H. Wexner Russia 380 Huntington Ingalls Industries Child Bill Schwendler Germany 383 Tesla Immigrant Elon Musk South Africa 386 Harman International Industries Immigrant Sidney Harman, Bernard Kardon Canada, Russia and Lithuania 387 Nvidia Immigrant Jensen Huang Taiwan 388 R.R. Donnelley & Sons Immigrant Richard R. Donnelley Canada 390 Quintiles IMS Holdings Immigrant Dennis Gillings England 392 Dover Child George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. Denmark 393 Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Child William E. Boeing Germany, Austria 395 A-Mark Precious Metals Child Steve Markoff Canada 397 Sealed Air Immigrant Marc A. Chavannes Switzerland 401 Owens-Illinois Child Michael Joseph Owens Ireland 402 Targa Resources Immigrant Eric Warburg Germany 414 Sanmina Immigrant Jure Sola, Milan Mandaric Bosnia, Croatia 415 CalAtlantic Group Child Arthur Svendsen Denmark 416 Dr Pepper Snapple Group Child Charles Alderton, Hyman Golden England, Romania 419 CMS Energy Child Samuel Jarvis England 422 Yum Brands Immigrant William Loft, Charles Guth (child) England, Germany 423 Casey's General Stores Child Don Lamberti Italy 425 Oshkosh Child Bernhard A. Mosling Norway 429 Expeditors International of Washington Immigrant Peter Rose, James Wang Canada, Taiwan 435 Harley-Davidson Child William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson England, Scotland 436 Regions Financial Immigrant Charles Linn Finland 438 Alaska Air Group Immigrant Charles H. Ruttan Canada 440 Lam Research Immigrant David K. Lam China 444 Avon Products Child David Hall McConnell Ireland 453 Clorox Child Archibald Taft Ireland 456 Ingredion Child E.T. Bedford England 458 Owens Corning Child Michael Joseph Owens Ireland 459 S&P Global Child James H. McGraw, John A. Hill Ireland 460 Markel Child Samuel A. Markel Russia 462 Arthur J. Gallagher Child Arthur J. Gallagher Ireland 463 Burlington Stores Child Monroe Milstein Russia 468 NetApp Immigrant James Lau Hong Kong 474 Mattel Child Ruth Handler Poland 475 AmTrust Financial Services Immigrant George and Michael Karfunkel Hungary 477 Simon Property Group Child Herbert and Melvin Simon Austria 482 Chemours Immigrant E.I. du Pont France 483 Western & Southern Financial Group Child Charles F. Williams Ireland 484 Celanese Immigrant Camille and Henry Dreyfus Switzerland 485 Windstream Holdings Child Sigurd L. Odegard, John A. Pratt Norway, Scotland 486 Seaboard Child Otto Bresky Russia 488 Apache Child Truman Anderson Norway 490 Kelly Services Immigrant William Russell Kelly Canada 494 CH2M Hill Immigrant Fred Merryfield England 495 Big Lots Immigrant Sol Shenk Russia 497 Toll Brothers Child Robert and Bruce Toll Ukraine 498 Yahoo Immigrant Jerry Yang Taiwan 500 ABM Industries Child Morris Rosenberg Poland
Source: CAE analysis of Fortune Magazine data
Our analysis is inspired by the New American Economy’s (NAE) 2011 study: The “New American” Fortune 500, which identified companies in the 2010 Fortune 500 that were founded by at least one immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Their analysis identified 90 of the 500 companies as being founded by at least one immigrant, and another 114 founded or co-founded by the child of an immigrant. Our objective was to extend that analysis to the 2017 Fortune 500 list.
To do this, we took a two-pronged approach – first, by independently identifying the founders of each company in the 2017 Fortune 500 list along with their immigration status, and, second, by systematically comparing our results with the NAE’s analysis for companies on both the 2010 and 2017 Fortune 500 lists. The source files for our analysis were the 2010 and 2017 Fortune 500 lists from Fortune Magazine’s data store, and the Appendix from NAE’s report.
To identify company founders, their immigration status, and the status of their parents, we used a wide-sweeping approach that included: company websites and historical documentation, investor databases and company profiles, Internet reference resources, historical Census and ancestry databases, news databases, and, in the case of some companies, direct correspondence with companies or their founders. We identified a company as being founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant only in cases where we could definitively confirm the identify of the company founder(s) and their nativity. In cases where we encountered any uncertainty as to founder(s) or their nativity, the company was identified as not immigrant founded.
This approach produces very conservative results. In dozens of cases, we were unable to identify a company founder at all. Many companies had particularly fragmented beginnings, were founded by large groups of people (cooperatives), or had otherwise murky information about company founders and their immigration status. Other companies were founded by government charter and, therefore, had no individual “founder”, while others are American subsidiaries of foreign companies and, therefore, have no founder who immigrated to the United States. In each of these more than sixty cases, the companies were counted as not immigrant founded, even though that classification is unlikely to be fully accurate.
Our results, therefore, represent a lower-bound estimate of the true number of Fortune 500 companies founded by a first- or second-generation immigrant. Had we been able to obtain fully reliable information regarding the origin of all Fortune 500 company founders, and if ineligible companies were removed from the analysis, our confident guess is that between 48 percent and 51 percent of eligible Fortune 500 companies would be determined to have been founded or co-founded by immigrants or the child of immigrants, compared to the 43 percent figure that our more conservative approach produces.
As a robustness check of our initial results, we conducted a second analysis in which we compared our results with NAE’s 2011 work, using data for companies on both the 2010 and 2017 Fortune 500 lists. Because company names can be spelled differently in each Fortune list, and because businesses change names, headquarters locations, or any number of identifying characteristics over time, we used a matching algorithm based on multiple fields of identifiers to link companies that were on the 2010 list with companies on the 2017 list. This produced 353 matches at a statistical probability suitable to confirm the identity of the companies.
Of the remaining 147 companies on the 2017 list, 34 were manually identified as being on the 2010 list (but failed to meet the statistical match because of changes in identifying characteristics, such as a name change) and 113 were entirely new. Of these new companies, 14 were spin-outs of companies on the 2010 list (and, therefore, assigned the founder and nativity status of the parent company) and 99 were new companies independent of those on the Fortune 2010 list.
For the 387 companies on both the 2010 and 2017 lists, we compared our results with those of the NAE analysis. Our results differed in about 7 percent of cases. Seventeen of these cases resulted in substantive (quantitative) differences – in 3 cases, companies were included in NAE’s list as being founded by immigrants or their children that we thought should have not have been, and in 14 cases companies had been excluded from NAE’s immigrant-founded list that we determined should have been included. In nearly twenty other cases, we disagreed with certain qualitative information (name of founders, spelling of names, countries of origin, etc.) that did not result in a change in founder status.