When Microsoft reported their earnings for the most recent fiscal quarter the neglected to mention that the company had reached a milestone for cumulative revenue. Technologist and writer Jeff Reifman stumbled upon the realization that over the course of its existence Micrsoft has made $1 trillion in revenue.
Riefman notes that Microsoft is not the first technology company to reach this milestone. According to his data, Apple achieved $1 trillion in cumulative revenue sometime last year. His graph of cumulutive revenue for Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple illustrates how Apple’s revenue skyrocked with the iPhone, leading the Cupertino based comapny to surpass Microsoft in cumultive revenue around 2013.
However, Reifman dived into the data even further to find that Microsoft still has a slight edge over Apple for now in the tally of cumulative profits. Over its existence Microsoft has made a cumulative $265.2 billion in profit while Apple has made $261.6 billion.
Reifman’s data shows that Amazon has passed the $500 billion cumulative revenue mark but Google has not. And while Amazon has achieved half a trillion in cumultive revenue, the other Seattle based technology company has not been nearly as profitable – only taking in a lifetime total of $3.31 billion in profit.
Cumultive revenue and profits are not the most pertinent financial measures of a mature company. Stringing together the cumulative earnigns over four decades does not help project future earnings or asses present levels of performance. But the figures do stand out as noteworthy to get a sense of gravity and scale to Microsoft and other technology comapnies.
Riefman uses this data to draw attention to the state of Washington’s tax laws. He notes that combined Microsoft and Amazon have made more than $1.5 trillion in revenues while headquartered there, but in his state the wealthy pay the lowest share of taxes compared to the entire country. Riefman goes on to say that while so much tax revenue is not collected from the wealthy and these profitable corporations, the state of Washington has gone onto suffer from a lack of public funds with social problems in education, traffic, homelessness, a heroin epidimic, violent crime, and more.
Because the United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, many companies have sheltered their revenues overseas in countries with low tax rates, such as Ireland, for years. And those years of sheltering profits have added up to massive amounts of cash on hand, which for the most part, sits idle.
Concern has been growing over these considerable off shore piles of cash. Notably, Tim Cook was called before the Senate in 2013 to speak about his company’s decision to hold so much cash off shore. And the more recent revelations found in the Panama Papers has increased the public discourse over tax havens. As the off shore cash reserves of companies like Microsoft and Apple continue to grow into 12 digit figures, something has got to give.