The Biggest Companies you Have Never Heard of

Branding is everywhere. Kids are more familiar with corporate logos than they are famous literary characters and films. It’s the capitalist dream and it means everyone knows the names of the companies that run the world.

Or so you might think.

But there exist a number of parent companies that own vast portfolios of companies, controlling much of what we do and buy without even realizing it.


This is a huge conglomerate that owns a number of popular alcohol brands. You could be forgiven for thinking that Captain Morgan, one of the world’s most popular rums, was a family owned brand going back hundreds of years. Most people think that the Gordon family were in control of Gordon’s or that the current owner of Johnnie Walker whiskey could trace their family heritage back to an eponymous family member.

But all of these brands are owned by Diageo, generating over $17 billion in sales every year thanks to those brands, as well as the following:

  • Smirnoff
  • Bells
  • J&B
  • Bulleit
  • Baileys
  • Guinness
  • Cardhu
  • Ciroč

In fact, this is a trend seen industry wide. Jim Beam is owned by the same company that own Courvoisier, Bowmore, Laphroaig, Teacher’s and over a dozen other brands while the owners of Absolute vodka also own Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, Seagrams, Beefeater, Martell and many more.

None of these earn as much as Diageo, but in the grand scheme of things, Diageo don’t do nearly as much business as the other huge conglomerates running the world.

Tech Data Corp

A lot of the companies that top the Fortune 500 are not known to the general public because they make their money by manufacturing for or selling to the retailers. Retailers big and small need to shop somewhere and it’s manufacturers like this, whether they be hardware suppliers like DO Supply or book suppliers like Gardners, that do the work behind the scenes to keep the well-known companies in business. The man on the street hasn’t heard of them, but the retailers definitely have, and the stock market traders rely on them.

Such is the case with Tech Data Corp, whose revenue is in excess of $36 billion and who have been providing gadgets for a number of years, whether you realize it or not.

They distribute IT equipment, including computers, servers and smartphones, with millions of these machines and devices passing through their hands. They are also performing incredibly well on the stock market right now, with a bright future that promises bigger profits and bigger returns.

Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands is a little better known than some of the other entries on this list, but it certainly isn’t as well known as the brands that it controls and in most countries it is a struggle to find anyone who has heard of it. Yum! control some of the biggest fast food franchises in the world, including KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

None of these were founded by Yum! Brands, but it’s where they all are right now. In other words, the origin stories are true (although that certainly isn’t the case for all fast food chains) but those families and founders have little to do with the companies now.

Yum! Brands generate over $6 billion in revenue and as well as the three chains mentioned above. They have also played a part in the history of chains like Long John Silver’s and A&W.

Mondelez International

One of the biggest names on this list, Mondelez has played a role in all our of lives, but most people don’t realize it. In fact, people all over the world have cupboards stocked with their products, because they are the parent company behind some of the world’s most popular products.

They used to go by the name Kraft, and they are more well-known in the US than in Europe, but very few understand the scale of their operation. They own all of the following brands:

  • Cadburys
  • Oreo
  • Ritz
  • Trident
  • Tang
  • Toblerone
  • Bassetts
  • Chips Ahoy!
  • Beloit
  • Fry’s
  • Terry’s
  • Halls
  • Stride
  • Lax
  • Mikado
  • Trebor
  • Marabou
  • LU

It seems that until now, very few people knew the names of the companies that run the world.