OLD Media Moves

Time to kill the Fortune 500

March 10, 2009

Douglas McIntyre argues on 24/7 Wall Street that now is the time for Fortune magazine to do away with its annual list of the largest 500 companies in the United States.

McIntyre writes, “Not long ago, putting a list of the 500 largest US companies ranked by revenue was prestigious for both the publication and the corporations. Annual revenue numbers meant something. They really don’t any more. Now, the yearly ritual is a reminder of the weakness of print. It is tied to freezing data at a moment in time and holding it there for a year. Much of that data used to change slowly but now changes daily.

“Taking an annual snapshot of large company’s financial information for a calendar year lost its usefulness several years ago when the data became available online. Some figures included in the list, like market capitalization, change every day and the public has easy access to those changes. Other data, like annual return to investors, may lose their value before the magazine comes out.

“Of the top 54 companies on last year’s list, one out of eight have either become insolvent or are no longer in existence because of forced mergers due to the results of poor management. Now, ten months later, they are still on the list, at Fortune.com, which only serves to remind people how senseless the process is.”

Read more here.

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