On the 03 August 2018, stories broke out across news channels that Apple had won the race to a market capitilisation of 1 trillion dollars. Was it surprisingly that this was even a race? Or if you knew about it perhaps it was surprising that Apple was not the first company in history to hit this landmark? Although it was the first US company.

What was the first company to reach a $ trillion market cap?

Could you name the first company to achieve a valuation according to market capitilisation of over $1,000,000,000,000? (there enough 0’s there to make you dizzy).

Before we reveal the answer, do you know what market capitalisation means? It is can be explained simply as the price of a share multiplied by the number of shares in issue. If I have 10 shares and each share is worth R20, well than my market capitilisation is R200. In practice the “market cap” is used as an indication of the size of a company.

PetroChina on the Shanghai Stock Exchange was the first company to achieve the historic “first company to a market cap of $1 trillion” back in 2007.


Apple were competing with their fellow titan of industry, Amazon, for the illustrious title of the first US company to $1 trillion. In the end Apple won that specific race but there is a different race being run at the same time.

Who is going to be the world’s first trillionaire?

This interesting race has one clear leader at this stage – it is being lead by Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, who is pipped to become the worlds first trillionaire by 2030.


South African news reported that government is committed to spending R 59 billion on financial bailouts of the State-Owned Entities (SoE’s). These SoE’s have reported billions in losses and misappropriated audacious sums of money over the years. South African Airways has already been given R 15 billion in bailouts and the South African Post Service appears to have under estimated servicing 17 million South Africans.


There is a good chance right now you are sitting back and saying “yes, yes I’ve seen all of this already – why are you telling me this?”.

Well here is the crux of the article: have you truly comprehended the implications and quantum of the numbers we have shared with you? Or have you merely glossed over it all and thought “yeah . . that’s a large amount”?

Personally I was certainly part of the latter group. I never correctly interpreted the significance of a million, compared to a billion versus a trillion. Have you?

Perhaps the most practical way of contextualising this, is to put it into a format that is readily understandable.  Let’s use “time” as our relative indicator and keep in mind how old you are as the base.

1 million seconds is the same as saying 11.57 days. This is hardly 2 weeks and can relate to a fraction of the time we are on this earth. By contrast 1 billion seconds is the same as saying 31.71 years. That’s a little bit more scary hey? It equates to close to half the average life expectancy of developed nations. Finally and most nerve wracking of all is 1 trillion seconds, which is the same as saying 31,710 years. We are in the year 2018 right?  It safe to say thirty one thousand seven hundred years ago was really going “back in the day”.

Scary-Quantum-of-a-Number-300x103 The Scary Quantum of a Number – Comparing Trillions, Billions, and Millions

This simple illustration indicates the immense divide between these amounts. It was a good indication for me that I should not be too flippant when hearing the words trillions, billions or millions and I hope you too can now appreciate the significance of the numbers we started with. Does this change your impression of what we said previously?


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