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30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

What are the largest privately held companies in America? Several websites (Forbes, for example) attempt to identify these companies by looking at their total revenues. We’re guilty of this too (see 11 biggest private companies in the world). Total revenue is an OK metric if you don’t have anything else to use but businesses don’t exist to maximize revenue, they exist to maximize profits and ultimately the value of the company. We don’t consider a middleman company that spends $100 billion on commodities and sells them for $101 billion to be one of America’s largest privately held companies. Several of the “biggest” privately held companies on Forbes’ list were like this. They had $20 billion to $30 billion in sales but they were in low margin businesses and the total market value of these companies were less than $10 billion.

People generally presume private companies to be running on a small scale with miniscule profits. That is usually true but there are a lot of exceptions. Private equity firms usually snap up mid size public and private companies with the intention of returning them back to the public markets at a future date potentially at much higher valuations. There are also some family owned or controlled private businesses that may be valued at tens of billions of dollars. In this article, we will estimate market values of these private companies by using price-to-sales ratios of similar publicly traded companies. To do this, we used revenue estimates from Forbes and price-sales ratios from Yahoo Finance. We also included other privately held technology companies that don’t have large revenues to make Forbes’ list but valued in billions in financing rounds. Here are the 30 largest privately held companies in America ranked by market capitalizations:

30. Pilot Flying J

Total revenue: $32.1 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 7

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.25

Estimated Market Capitalization: $8 billion

After the merger back in 2010, Pilot Flying J became the largest privately held gas and convenience chain store in the country. The company boasts over 700 locations, which can be found in every single state in the country.

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

29. Allegis Group

Total revenue: $10.4 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 32

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.77

Estimated Market Capitalization: $8 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

28. Toys ‘R’ Us

Total revenue: $12.5 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 22

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.65

Estimated Market Capitalization: $8.2 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com

27. Menard

Total revenue: $8.3 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 42

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 1.2

Estimated Market Capitalization: $10.0 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

dcwcreations / Shutterstock.com

26. Dropbox

Total revenue: $216 million

Ranking according to revenue: Nowhere near the top.

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: nearly 50

Estimated Market Capitalization: $10.0 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

 25. Enterprise Holdings

Total revenue: $17.8 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 16

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.6

Estimated Market Capitalization: $10.7 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

nito/Shutterstock.com

24. Pinterest

Total revenue: Analysts hope that Pinterest will generate as much as $500 million in revenue in 2016

Ranking according to revenue: Nowhere near the top

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 22 times hypothetical 2016 revenue.

Estimated Market Capitalization: $11.0 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Pinterest

 23. Bechtel Corporation

Total revenue: $39.4 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 4

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.29

Estimated Market Capitalization: $11.4 billion

This construction and engineer company has managed to expand to telecommunications, infrastructure and oil and gas. Some of the major projects that this company has worked on include the development of the Jubail Industrial City and the Hoover Dam.

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Bechtel Corporation

22. SpaceX

Total revenue: $1 billion

Ranking according to revenue: Nowhere near the top

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 12

Estimated Market Capitalization: $12 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Space X

21. C&S Wholesale Grocers

Total revenue: $25 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 10

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.5

Estimated Market Capitalization: $12.5 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

20. McKinsey & Co.

Total revenue: $8 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 47

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 1.95

Estimated Market Capitalization: $15.6 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America

19. Snapchat

Total revenue: $3 million

Ranking according to revenue: Slightly higher than the ranking of the Greek restaurant on 58th Street and 10th Avenue

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 5000

Estimated Market Capitalization: $16 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Snapchat

tanuha2001/Shutterstock.com

18. Capital Group Cos

Total revenue: $7.3 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 49

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 2.5

Estimated Market Capitalization: $18.3 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America- Capital Group CS

17. Platinum Equity

Total revenue: $12 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 24

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 1.6

Estimated Market Capitalization: $19.2 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Platinum Equity

Nonwarit/Shutterstock.com

16. Palantir

Total revenue: $1 billion

Ranking according to revenue: Nowhere near the top

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 20

Estimated Market Capitalization: $20 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Palantir

15. SC Johnson & Son

Total revenue: $9.6 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 36

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 2.5

Estimated Market Capitalization: $24 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - SC Johnson and Son

Thinglass / Shutterstock.com

14. Dell

Total revenue: $57.2 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 3

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.42

Estimated Market Capitalization: $24 billion

Now this is a company you’ve definitely heard of. In fact, chances are that you are reading this on a Dell device. While the company was public, it ceased trading back in 2013.

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Dell

Rose Carson/Shutterstock.com

13. First Data

Total revenue: $10.8 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 31

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 2.3

Estimated Market Capitalization: $24.9 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - First Data

12. Airbnb

Total revenue: $420 million

Ranking according to revenue: Nowhere near the top

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 60

Estimated Market Capitalization: $25.5 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Airbnb

tanuha2001/Shutterstock.com

11. Amway

Total revenue: $11.8 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 26

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 2.5

Estimated Market Capitalization: $29.5 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Amway

Matthew Kaiser 7 / Shutterstock.com

10. Cox Enterprises

Total revenue: $15.9 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 18

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 1.9

Estimated Market Capitalization: $30.2 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Cox Enterprises

Shutter_M/Shutterstock.com

9. HJ Heinz

Total revenue: $11.2 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 30

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 3

Estimated Market Capitalization: $33.6 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - HJ Heinz

8. Fidelity Investments

Total revenue: $13.6 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 21

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 2.5

Estimated Market Capitalization: $34.1 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Fidelity Investments

Ken Wolter/Shutterstock.com

7. Bloomberg

Total revenue: $8.3 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 43

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 5

Estimated Market Capitalization: $41.5 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Bloomberg

Denys Prykhodov/Shutterstock.com

6. Cargill

Total revenue: $134.9 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 1

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.34

Estimated Market Capitalization: $45.9 billion

As mentioned earlier, Cargill managed to outearn AT&T. The company was initiated in 1865 and has operations in over 60 countries, allowing it to become number one in the 10 largest privately held companies in America.

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Cargill

5. Uber

Total revenue: $400 million

Ranking according to revenue: Not in top 1000

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 127

Estimated Market Capitalization: $51 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Uber

GongTo/Shutterstock.com

4. Ernst & Young

Total revenue: $27.4 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 9

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 1.95

Estimated Market Capitalization: $53.4 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Ernst & Young

Sergey Kohl/Shutterstock.com

3. PricewaterhouseCoopers

Total revenue: $34 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 5

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 1.95

Estimated Market Capitalization: $66.3 billion

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - PricewaterhouseCooper

Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.com

2. Mars Inc.

Total revenue: $33 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 6

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 2.4

Estimated Market Capitalization: $79.2 billion

 

Mars bar. The company’s growth in stature has come mainly due to its acquisition of other companies such as the Wrigley company.

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Mars Inc.

Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com

1. Koch Industries

Total revenue: $115 billion

Ranking according to revenue: 2

Estimated Price-Sales Ratio: 0.8

Estimated Market Capitalization: $92.0 billion

While the company focused solely on energy after its inception in 1940, it became a global conglomerate.  It is mostly owned by the members of the insanely wealthy Koch family and is the main basis for the funding behind the political activities of the Koch brothers.

30 Largest Privately Held Companies In America - Kosch Industries