Which Companies Turned A Profit the Quickest - And Which Have Yet To?

Turning a profit seems to be an easy task for the world’s biggest brands. After all, it’s pretty much guaranteed once your name is big enough to be recognised around the globe, right?

According to new research from Forward2Me, it seems that profit isn’t always guaranteed, even if you’re considered one of the biggest brands in the world.

Looking at the time it took successful brand names from around the world to make a profit, the study revealed that brands such as Pandora, Tesla, Spotify and Uber are still yet to have a profitable year, while the likes of Microsoft made a profit within their first year.

Who Made a Profit the Quickest?

The research found that Microsoft was the only brand to make a profit in less than two years. In fact, they made a profit almost immediately, thanks to them being the only supplier of ‘Altair BASIC’ and many early microcomputers.

Their rival, Apple, comes in joint second place, taking just two years to see a profitable year, along with Paypal and fast food delivery brand Deliveroo. Apple and Microsoft are always in competition, so it’s interesting to see that the brand which is seen as more luxurious took longer to make a profit. However, it isn’t surprising to see them rank so highly in the ‘making a profit’ ranking.

Deliveroo entered the fast-food delivery market, taking it by storm, overtaking Just Eat who had been working hard to make a profit for over 14 years prior. Whether it was the draw of delivery by bike and the benefits to the environment, there’s no way to tell, but within just two short years of its creation, Deliveroo shot to the top and had its first profitable year, whereas Just Eat is still yet to have one.

The main benefit of using Paypal is that users have a sense of security when paying for items online. That means more people would be more likely to use it, especially when buying and selling through vendors such as Ebay as the service offers extra buyer and seller protection. This popularity could explain why the brand managed to make a profit so quickly, but, as you will see later in the study, popularity isn’t everything when it comes to being able to turn a profit.

Surprisingly, Google (Alphabet) took three years to see a profit from its creation. The search engine giant has since branched out the services that it offers to the world, and it raked in £136,220,000,000 in 2018. Could the brand have ranked differently had it launched with more services to start with?

Facebook became a household name very quickly, but it took them five years to see any kind of profit from the platform. As it has now morphed into a multi-purpose platform, with businesses investing millions into advertising through Facebook, it’s now hard to believe that it took so long for them to get any return, although it’s not surprising to see them rank in the top five.


Even though it contains some massive titles in its catalogue now, Netflix didn’t automatically make money, even with its subscription model service which has been in place since it was launched. It comes in fifth place in the ranking, taking six years to see a profitable year. This could be attributed to the amount of money that would need to be paid to movie publishers to be able to stream their content or the fact that many users share accounts with friends and family, inhibiting potential profits.

Offering an alternative to expensive bank charges when wanting to transfer money abroad, Transferwise is a brand who made a name for themselves very quickly. When money is involved - especially when helping people save money and offer a better service - people are always going to want to invest. So it’s no surprise, then, that it only took Transferwise seven years to make a profit.

While the founder may be the richest man in the world, Amazon actually took nine years after being founded - seven years after going public - to actually make any profit. After years of gradually branching out the services that it offered, it finally started making a profit in 2003.

Equally, Groupon and Airbnb also took nine years to turn a profit after both being formed in 2008.

Creative selling platform Etsy also made the top ten, seeing their first profitable year in 2017 after 12 years of no profit. WIth sellers fees and increasing popularity for handmade, unique items, the platform was finally able to say it was profitable.

Twitter also had to wait 12 years to see any profit. While it’s rival Facebook was able to enjoy a profit after five years, the tweeting platform had to wait more than twice as long to see any payback, only making a profit in 2018. That’s nine years after Facebook announced its profit.

Glu Mobile and Ocado make up the remaining two spots of the top ten, taking 13 and 15 years respectfully to make a profit.

The biggest brands that have turned a Profit

Who Has Yet to Make a Profit?

Fame doesn’t always equal fortune, and while the following companies aren’t exactly struggling with their finances, they have still yet to see a profitable year.

Jewellery company Pandora isn’t known for being a budget brand, but 19 years on from its creation, it still hasn’t reported a profitable year. Even with collaborations with other big brands, it seems as though it’s going to take more to see a profit than partnering up with the likes of Disney.

Delivery service Just Eat is still also waiting to make a profit. Established in 2001, it’s a wonder that a service with such high demand is still failing to make a profit. However, with the likes of Deliveroo coming in as a competitor in 2013 and being one of the quickest brands to turn a profit, the competition and a saturated market could be to blame for this.

Although they are hailed as one of the biggest up and coming brands when it comes to renewable cars and green energy, Tesla is lagging behind in making a profit. With so many people looking to make more eco-friendly choices, seeing Tesla failing to be profitable might seem unusual, but you have to take into account the cost to buy a Tesla car and the availability of charging ports around the world. As more people embrace greener cars, the market could see a bigger boom and give the brand a boost towards finally making a profit after 16 years.


Music streaming service Spotify is the fourth brand in the ranking who have yet to turn a profit. They have been around for some time - 13 years, in fact. While it does have a free side to its service, there is a subscription service, too, which many would expect to help boost profits. However, like Netflix, Spotify needs to pay the artists for the right to stream their music, which could explain why they have yet to make any profit, especially with the amount of money some artists charge to allow their music to be used.

Dropbox and Soundcloud come in fifth place within the ranking, both being in business for 12 years without making a profit. Although Soundcloud is a well-known service, there are other brands which could be considered to be bigger rivals, such as YouTube, which has a bigger following.

Square Inc and Uber have both waited a long decade to announce a profitable year, but it doesn’t seem like they have managed to break the unprofitable streak in 2019. Uber’s popularity has started to spike, so they may be able to report a profit in the near future.

Popular pinning site Pinterest has also yet to make a profit. As one of the newer social media platforms, it still has plenty of time to do so, having only been founded in 2010. As mentioned above, Twitter managed to make a profit after 12 years, so there could very well be a profitable year heading their way.

Similarly, Snapchat also hasn’t profited since its creation in 2011. However, with more brands and celebrities using the platform to advertise, it doesn’t seem likely that they will remain unprofitable for much longer.

StockX and Lyft were both founded in 2012 and have still yet to make a profit. With the addition of highly sought after trainers along with other popular items of clothing and accessories onto StockX, there is hope that a profit could be made.

Lyft is battling with Uber for custom, and only time will tell who is able to close that gap on a profit. While Uber has been around longer, that doesn’t mean that it is any closer to becoming a profitable business.

Popularity doesn’t always mean profitable, and some of these massive brand names are finding that out the hard way.

The brands who still haven’t made a profit... (years active)

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