Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is Activision, per employee, one of the richest companies in the world?

A couple months ago, there were many news articles about how billionaire Gabe Newell, the boss of gaming company Valve, said his company is more profitable, per employee, than Google. This was a shocker to me, since Google seems like one of those companies that every person on the planet seems to know about. So I just assumed that Google was raking in more money than a "mere" game company, in every way possible. But nope, apparently not.

So this got me thinking. How do other game companies fare against titans of industry like Google, Wal-mart, and Microsoft when it comes to a wealth-per-employee contest?

Using Wikipedia, I gathered the data shown for each company's total equity and employee count. I then divided a company's total equity by employee count. All the data was from financial year 2010.

Here are the results!

Assuming that Wikipedia's data for "total equity" is basically what I think it is (assets minus liabilities), we find that Activision Blizzard is doing REALLY well for itself. With just 5,000 employees, it has $10.2 billion in equity, and an equity-per-employee number of about $2 million. Wow. I bet ActiBlizz's employees wish they could each have $2 million!

Now take a look at Wal-Mart, Ford Motors, and Bank of America, which are numbers 1, 7, and 10 on the 2008 Fortune 500 list, respectively. I've heard Wal-mart employs around 1% of the US workforce. Per employee, its equity count is at $33,809. They had to hire 2 million people to acquire $71 billion in equity. Ford Motors' red number means each employee's equity is actually negative $4,000. Ford would owe $642 million, even if it sold off all its assets. An RPG gamer might say "Learn to min/max, noobs." Heh.

So there ya go. Per employee, the house of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft could be one of the wealthiest companies in the world.

PS -- I didn't put Valve on the list since Valve's total equity is not listed on Wikipedia. Also, I think using equity-to-employee count was a good way to determine "wealth per employee", but if you disagree, feel free to suggest a better way in the comments below. Thanks!