The media always covers stories about the giant companies that have game-changing products and services. However, there are numerous companies that most people have never heard of making billions of dollars from a small gadget or some other device that is needed by the general public but often overlooked. These companies are as successful or provide as useful products and services as Pinterest or Uber. The following is a list of five unlikely businesses that make over $1 billion in revenue but have little recognition for their success.
Although most people have heard of coupons.com, they never think twice about the valuation of this company or the fact that it is even a company. The site conjures a stay-at-home parent sitting in their home office scouring the Internet for the best coupon deals then uploading them to their website. Quite the contrary as Coupons.com is a massive, billion dollar business. Founded in 1998 in Mountain View, California, Coupons.com recently filed with the New York Stock Exchange for an IPO so that valuation is expected to increase dramatically.
The premise of Coupons.com is that it allows users to access the website then find coupon offerings and other deals to print out prior to shopping. This simple concept that was moved online resulted in Coupons.com reeling in $115 million in only nine months during 2013. This is a pretty impressive feat that many of the more recognized companies have never achieved.
Valued at $1.2 billion and located out of Beijing, China, Sogou is a search engine that allows users to search for maps, images, text and music by simply inputting their keyword into the search bar in a similar fashion to Google. Data collecting website, Crunchbase, found that over 10 billion pages have been searched in China using Sogou and there is a daily update of 500 million pages. One of the best aspects of the service is the ability to find malicious software located on websites thus providing the user with the cleanest and protected websites in the search engine results.
Also located in the Bay Area, Jawbone is a company that is valued at $1.5 billion. Originally founded in 1999, Jawbones were initially intended to produce noise-canceling headphones used for military applications. Since that original launch, Jawbone manufactures Bluetooth headsets and wireless speakers that sync to mobile device utilized by exercise enthusiasts and music lovers across the globe. Although many have heard of the company and use their products, they are still not as well-known as the JBL, Bose and Anker companies that are more common in the marketplace. In addition to the headphones, Jawbone has expanded its product offerings into fitness trackers, portable audio devices and the NoiseAssasin technology. The company argues that wearable’s are the heart of the connected home thus enabling the Internet of Things.
Three years later after developing the noise-cancelling technology first used by the military, the company won a DARPA contract with the United States military’s research arm in an effort to find a method of clear solider communication in adverse conditions. Recognizing the commercialization aspect of their product, the company developed a mobile phone headset that suppresses background noise. Within two years, Jawbone release a demonstration on YouTube of a wireless version of the headset.
With a company valuation set above $2 billion, Woodman Labs based out of San Mateo, California was officially founded in 2009 and is responsible for manufacturing and distribution of the GoPro camera. These waterproof recording devices have become popular with extreme athletes like surfers, skydivers, skateboarders and even motorcycle enthusiasts. The previous owner and founder of the company, Nicholas Woodman, recent joined the billionaire ranks after selling 8.9 percent of the company to the Foxconn Technology Group. By selling this percentage of shares, the wearable can be sold in Taiwan thus opening an additional market to rake in more cash. The transaction was for $200 million and the founder and CEO still owns 77-percent of the organization. Foxconn is a Taiwanese manufacturer of Apple iPads and Sony PlayStations. With the addition of GoPro equipment, the company will be able to significantly increase its revenue, as well as Woodman Labs in the Taiwanese marketplace.
The owner and CEO of the company began making wearable cameras when he first started his career. The popularity of his products grew so his friends and family persuaded him to sell the devices to ski, surf and bike shops and the rest is history. In 2012, Woodman Labs sales approached $600 million which is incredible in just 9 years of creating products.
Bloom Energy is an intriguing and different type of energy company that nobody recognizes. They create fuel cells known as Bloom Boxes that create clean energy which can harness energy and be used in entire homes or stores. The first consumers of these devices were major corporations such as Federal Express, Walmart and Coca Cola. Unfortunately the cost of these magic energy boxes hovers around $750,000. However, the CEO is striving to bring that cost down to $3,000 within ten years. Recently, eBay purchased five of these boxes and saved an estimated $100,000 in less than a year on energy costs. Founded in 2001 in Sunnyvale, California, Bloom Energy is valued at $2.9 billion.
The Bloom Box is a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) power generator that takes input fuels from biological sources and produces electricity near the site in which it is being used. This innovation is a new class of distributed power generator that produces a clean, affordable and reliable source of electricity. The product can withstand temperatures up to 1,800 F. A single cell, which is a 100mm x 100mm metal plate, with three ceramic layers, has the ability to generate up to 25 watts of power. To date, there have been over 200 Bloom Boxes distributed in California to major companies that are looking for an inexpensive and clean source of energy.
While you may have heard of a few of these companies in passing, the majority of the general population has not. However, these companies have a valuation above many more recognizable firms without any of the recognition.