When I was just starting out as a journalist, I helped a friend develop a "what's hot and what's not" list for a major U.S. lifestyle magazine. That list was a big deal; it had the potential to make or break trends, careers, brands. And when I say I helped a friend develop it, I mean we sat on the floor of her apartment for a couple of hours and just made it up.
That's how a lot of media lists and rankings work; they're just somebody's opinions about things, ranked numerically for a patina of precision they don't really deserve. Other lists are based on something, but it's often just one thing — maybe annual revenues or sales or market cap. Fine as a snapshot, but hardly a holistic view. And even those that do use multiple criteria tend to focus on such a broad swath of companies that it's hard to compare genuine rivals.
We thought we could do better. So today we're launching the Protocol Power Index, an ongoing project to assess the power of companies across the tech industry by digging deep into all of the factors that make a company powerful (or not).
Money talks, of course, and our rankings do place an emphasis on market caps, funding rounds, growth and profitability. But power is more than that. Power is being able to hire and retain the best workers; it's creating the best product through engineering expertise and R&D; it's having sway in Washington; it's about exemplary leadership, clear ambitions around diversity, equity and inclusion, a commitment to sustainability and an emphasis on privacy and security.
All told, our analysis combines 30 data points for each company we rank. You can read more about our methodology here. But in short, we research and weight the data to give you a detailed and nuanced view of the most powerful companies in tech — and the companies best positioned to challenge them. Register for a free account, and you'll get access to all of our rankings as we roll them out, plus Protocol's Power Sheets, our detailed reports on each of the top five companies in each segment.
One other thing about the Protocol Power Index: We're focused on the workhorses of tech, not just the big household names. There's not much use in arguing whether Apple or Google is more powerful. But which is the most powerful company in critical sub-segments of enterprise, fintech and other burgeoning fields of tech? That's where we'll be aiming the Power Index.
Up first are observability, databases and robotic process automation. Next month, we'll switch to fintech and study payments infrastructure and consumer trading platforms. Every month thereafter, we'll add a new segment to build out a bigger picture of power across the whole of enterprise and fintech. And over the course of the year, we'll update our rankings as the data changes.
We're excited to share the Protocol Power Index with you, and we hope you'll share your feedback with us. What are we missing? What other factors should we consider? And where should we go next? There's a schedule for the launch of future segments here, but we'd love to hear your ideas, too, as we build out a tool for making sense of some of the world's most important companies.