The SAGA companies: Starbucks, Apple, Google and Amazon

“Ask yourself this question: Aside from the company where you or members of your family work, how many companies do you actually care about? We think that for a lot of us, there are only four: Starbucks, Apple, Google and Amazon — call them the SAGA companies. Of course, reducing what’s exciting about American business to SAGA is an exaggeration, but stay with us for a bit while we make a case that these four corporations represent a distinctive and distinctively American contribution to 21st-century capitalism,” James Ledbetter and Jacob Weisberg write for The Washington Post.

“The SAGA companies do very different things and are of hugely different sizes: Google’s market capitalization is about $158 billion; Starbucks is down to about $12 billion. Yet they share some remarkable traits. At the most basic level, each has transformed not only a specific commercial marketplace but also some important aspect of contemporary life — computing and music for Apple, information and advertising for Google, coffee for Starbucks, books for Amazon. In doing so, each has had an appreciable impact on our daily routines, taken on a looming presence in popular culture, and often engendered an intensity of feeling more often associated with tastes in entertainment or political views. Together, they have created a new model of business innovation, culture and values,” Ledbetter and Weisberg write.

The SAGA companies’ common traits:
• They have a ubiquitous presence
• They reflect the comparative advantage of today’s America…
• …yet they are genuinely global
• They are restless innovators: For the most part, SAGA companies don’t invent; they perfect… What SAGA companies have taught the world is that there is strong business sense in focusing maniacally on what customers want and then finding the most effective ways to deliver it.
• They follow their founders
• They engage consumers on an almost spiritual level

Much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.


  1. I get all kinds of stuff from Amazon – cookware, dotMac renewals (oops, MobileMe), etc. – not just books. I got tired of brick-and-mortar places often being out of stock on the one thing I want, so I pretty much go to Amazon first now.

    I hit Starbucks all the time (I drive all over the place, and I can always rely on them for a decent cup of joe, free WiFi, and a clean bathroom)… I use Google and my Mac daily… So yeah, I guess I fit that mold.

  2. Does anyone really “care about google”? If they disappeared tomorrow, people would just use Yahoo or Ask.

    People may prefer Google, but thats anbout it.
    Amazon…..maybe slightly
    Starbucks…definitly…although I personally don’t care.

  3. I used to love eBay and had no reason for Amazon. Now those rolls are reversed.

    eBay is dying a slow death…Hopefully they have a “do not resuscitate” order on file unlike Napster…LOL

    MDN Magice Word: Mean

  4. @GranitW
    Amazon is Wal-Mart from your home computer. They sell just about everything and do it conveniently. They will survive long after portals like Yahoo die.
    They are a true store, like HSN
    and are competitive pricewise. Their stock price is affordable compared to many. The difficulty, like Sirius/XM is continuously reinventing themselves to have more value and interest.

  5. Starbucks?!? are you kidding? That’s tantamount to “caring” for McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. Might as well throw in your favorite sports team?!? and automobile manufacturer…

    Apple & Google are simply in a COMPLETELY different realm than Starbucks & Amazon… nice try though

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.