I got interested in learning about the most enduring companies in the history of the world, i.e. the oldest companies that have been in continuous operation until present times. I found this Wikipedia entry about it, and I was surprised by a couple of very interesting facts:
– There are only 15 companies in the world that are older than 1,000 years. (And only 5,586 older than 200 years)
– Out of these 15 companies, 10 are from Japan. (And out of the 5,586 companies with more than 200 years, 3,146 are Japanese too)
– Out of the 15 companies, 7 are in the hospitality industry (4 hotels, 2 pubs and 1 restaurant company). The hotel and hospitality industry seem to represent a big percentage of the +200 companies too.
– The oldest company in the world, Kongo Gumi, was founded in Japan in the year 578, by an immigrant from Baekje (now Korea).
There a lot of interesting thoughts and conclusions that can be taken away from the list. The more obvious is that it is extremely hard to build a truly enduring company. Japanese culture seems to be the best suited when it comes to building enduring enterprises, which is a reflection I believe of their long term thinking, discipline and strong familiar bonds (a great example is seen in the movie “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”). The hospitality industry seems to be an industry where truly enduring companies can be built. And the bad-ass entrepreneur that started the oldest company in the world was a hustling immigrant (kudos!).
I wonder which of the current “hot” companies of today will still exist in 1,000 years? I think that Google, Wikipedia and Amazon might have a chance. I do believe that we need much more long term thinking in financial markets, management teams and boards if we want to foster the creation of long lasting value for humanity.
I wish that some of the companies that I help create in my life get to be enduring enterprises, and who knows last a couple of thousands of years.