What do the companies in these three groups have in common?
Group A. American Motors, Studebaker, Eastman Kodak, Maytag and National Sugar Refining.
Group B. Boeing, Campbell Soup, Deere, IBM and Whirlpool.
Group C. Cisco, eBay, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Yahoo.
All the companies in Group A were in the Fortune 500 in 1955, but not in 2011.
All the companies in Group B were in the Fortune 500 in both 1955 and 2011.
All the companies in Group C were in the Fortune 500 in 2011, but not 1955.
Comparing the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 and 2011, I find that there are only 67 companies that appear in both lists. In other words, only 13.4% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 were still on the list 56 years later in 2011, and almost 87% of the companies have either gone bankrupt, merged, gone private, or still exist but have fallen from the top 500 companies (ranked by gross revenue). That’s a lot of churning and creative destruction, and it’s probably safe to say that many of today’s Fortune 500 companies will be replaced by new companies in new industries over the next 56 years.