Apple, which has the biggest market capitalization in the world, is deservedly recognized as the greatest comeback in tech history. And now Microsoft, in passing Amazon on Friday to become the second most highly-valued public company, is clearly the runner-up for that title. The flip-flop occurred after investors punished Amazon for falling short of Wall Street sales estimates with its earnings report Thursday. Amazon’s market cap on Friday was about $801 billion, while Microsoft’s was $821 billion. Apple’s is over $1 trillion.
Microsoft’s renaissance gets far less public attention than Apple’s, most likely because the key to its resurgence—its success as a provider of cloud services—has little of the glamor of iPhones, iPads and iTunes. While Microsoft lost its way for over a decade, it never had a near-death experience quite like that of Apple, which needed defibrillation in the late 1990s. Both companies were founded within a year of each other in the mid-1970s. A decade or two from now, a younger generation of tech companies—Facebook, Google and Amazon—may be struggling for their second acts too.