Microsoft ended the week with the title of the most-valuable company in the U.S., pulling ahead of Apple Friday afternoon at the close of the stock market after days of volleying back and forth.
Microsoft’s stock rose slightly Friday, while Apple’s declined about 0.5 percent. This pushed Microsoft to a market capitalization of $851.2 billion vs. $847.4 billion for Apple, per Yahoo Finance. Seattle-based Amazon, which like Apple topped more than $1 trillion in value earlier this year, is now valued at $826 billion.
Whether Microsoft is the most-valuable company or trails Apple slightly matters less than the fact that this race exists at all. Microsoft’s resurgence under CEO Satya Nadella has pushed the company back into the tech world’s upper echelon. And now for the first time since 2010, Microsoft is more valuable than its hardware rival.
And how is the Microsoft executive team viewing the historic milestone?
“This is a metric that nobody on the senior leadership team is tracking,” Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela said during a talk at Seattle-based Pioneer Square Labs earlier this week. “We really aren’t looking at, are we five today, are we four today.”
In the 45 seconds he spent addressing the company’s market capitalization, Capossela said: “I’ve already spent way more time talking about this tonight than I’ve ever spent talking about it at the company.”
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“Nobody is sitting around high-fiving when the stock hits some new high,” Capossela said. “We are like ‘wow, the bar just went up dramatically.’ So it’s a very humble tone; there’s not a lot of, ‘woo, we’re killing it.’”
Even still, Microsoft’s remarkable rebirth is something to behold, and a transformation not many saw coming. Capossela said it was driven largely by Nadella’s laser focus on the company’s mission “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
Capossela thinks the outside perception of the company has changed because of the clear-eyed focus Microsoft maintains on its core priorities.
“Those notions of showing a view of growth that isn’t Windows and Office,” have played into a shift in perception of the company. “We love Windows and Office, they’re huge, and they’re growing. But there’s a different mindset; it’s an intelligent edge and intelligent cloud mindset. So people have seen a much bigger total addressable market that we now get to play in, because of this worldview, and the mission and the culture.”
Microsoft’s good fortune comes as the company has refocused its attention on enterprise computing, turning its Azure cloud computing service into the most credible threat to Amazon Web Services’ dominance of the public cloud market and transitioning customers of its older enterprise software to cloud services. Last year it hit a self-imposed goal to record $20 billion in annual revenue from cloud services ahead of schedule.
Gaming and the hardware divisions have also been bright spots for Microsoft in recent years. The gaming division hit $10 billion in annual revenue for the first time in its 2018 fiscal year. The hardware division is on the rise as well, as Microsoft reported Surface revenue of $1.18 billion in its most recent quarter, up 14 percent over the previous year.