Microsoft has become the most valuable public company in the world, surpassing Apple to claim the title and tying a bow atop a transformative five years for the company.
The Redmond tech giant, which had briefly overtaken Apple’s market capitalization in intraday trading earlier this week, finally closed at No. 1 on Friday, when Microsoft’s stock price climbed 0.6 percent, giving it a market cap of $851.2 billion, while Apple’s stock dropped 0.5 percent, pushing its value down to $847.4 billion.
The last time Microsoft’s market capitalization was bigger than Apple’s was in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Microsoft hasn’t been the most valuable company since the height of the dot-com boom in 2000.
But Microsoft recently has become a steady bet for investors, bolstered by its growing cloud business and avoiding the harsh scrutiny aimed at other big tech companies in the last year over privacy breaches and corporate responsibility. Its stock price has climbed nearly 32 percent this year.
The company exited its failing smartphone business years ago and, save for a couple remaining hardware products, has focused almost exclusively on technology that serves corporate customers. Much of its moneymaking businesses aren’t flashy and aren’t focused on consumers, and so have stayed out of the limelight.
But Microsoft’s chief strength — its cloud computing service, Azure, which allows companies to rent its computing power — is booming as the backbone of the tech industry, and has grown significantly under CEO Satya Nadella.
Microsoft’s commercial cloud business, which includes both Azure and cloud-software such as Office 365, brought in $8.5 billion last quarter, a 47 percent increase from the previous year.