Immigrant Founders
of the 2017 Fortune 500


Each year, Fortune Magazine publishes a list of the 500 largest American companies by revenue, among U.S. publicly listed companies and private companies with publicly available financial data. Many of these companies were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants.

June 1956
August 2005
June 2017


Each year since 1955, Fortune Magazine has published a list of the 500 largest American companies by revenue, among U.S. publicly listed companies and private companies with publicly available financial data.

In 2011, New American Economy (NAE) – a non-partisan policy organization of 500 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders – analyzed the national origin of the 2010 Fortune 500 company founders, finding that more than 40 percent had at least one founder who was an immigrant or the child an immigrant.

Given the on-going national debate regarding immigration policy – and the well-established importance of immigrants to entrepreneurship in the United States – the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) has analyzed the Fortune 500 data for 2017. We found that 43 percent of these companies were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. We also found that the occurrence of first- or second-generation immigrant founders is significantly higher among the largest Fortune 500 companies – accounting for 52 percent of the top 25 firms and 57 percent of the top 35 firms.

Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 firms are headquartered in 33 of the 50 states, employ 12.8 million people worldwide, and accounted for $5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016.

The results are striking and should be carefully considered by policymakers as they continue to deliberate the fate of 800,000 so-called DREAMers – undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children – and U.S. immigration policy more generally. In particular, the analysis provides compelling support for the creation of an entrepreneur visa, an important aspect of the Startup Act, bipartisan legislation reintroduced by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mark Warner (D-VA) on September 28th.

The findings of CAE’s analysis – along with a vast research literature – demonstrate the remarkable and persistent importance of immigrants to the creation and growth of America’s largest, most successful, and most valuable companies.

Immigration Facts

Imagine if These Pioneers Had Never Made It to America…

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18.4 percent of current Fortune 500 companies were founded by at least one immigrant, while an additional 24.8 percent were founded by the child of an immigrant.

Combined, 43.2 percent of 2017 Fortune 500 companies were founded by a first- or second-generation immigrant.


Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder, Clinique

Daughter of Hungarian immigrants.

The occurrence of first- or second-generation immigrant founders is significantly higher among the largest Fortune 500 companies – accounting for 52 percent of the top 25 firms and 57 percent of the top 35 companies.


Henry Ford

Ford Motor Company

Son of Irish immigrant.

The 43.2 percent figure is remarkably consistent with the 2010 findings – especially given that 23 percent of companies on the 2017 Fortune 500 were not on the 2010 list when the original study was undertaken.


Elon Musk

Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity

South African immigrant to the United States.

First- or second-generation immigrant-founded Fortune 500 firms are headquartered in 33 of the 50 states, across 68 metropolitan areas and 5 non-metropolitan areas.

- Accounted for $5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016.

- Employed 12.8 million people worldwide in 2016.


Walt Disney


Son of Canadian immigrant.

Data Visualization

Immigrant-Founded Companies Make Up a Large Share of Fortune 500 Companies, Concentrated Among the Top 50

Use Vertical Slider to See Immigrant-Founded Share of Subsets of the Fortune 500

The term "immigrant-founded" refers to first- or second-generation immigrants, and the term "first-generation" refers to U.S. immigrants born outside the United States.

Number of Firms




Share of immigrant founders
in the fortune 20


Immigrant-founded companies account for 20 of the top 36 Fortune 500 companies, or 0%.

Immigrant-Founded Companies are In Every Industry Across the Fortune 500


Immigrant-Founded Fortune 500 Companies Are Headquartered Across the United States

33 of 50 States Host Headquarters of Immigrant-Founded Fortune 500 Companies

Click on States for More Information

Group Created with Sketch.
  Fortune 500 Immigrant Founded
Fortune 500
Share of total (%)

Largest Immigrant-Founded Companies

Rank Company Revenue

* Numbers based on global company statistics not in state.

Forbes Brand Rankings

In Addition to Accounting for a Large Share of the Fortune 500 Firms, Companies Founded by First- or Second-Generation Immigrants are also 9 of the 13 Most Valuable Brands In The World, As Determined By Forbes Magazine.

Steve Jobs

American entrepreneur, businessman, inventor, and industrial designer.


Apple Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets personal computers and related personal computing and mobile communication devices along with a variety of related software, services, peripherals, and networking solutions.

Forbes Rank 1
Brand Value $170.0B
Immigrant 2nd Generation
Country of Origin Syria

Sergey Brin

Russian-born American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur.


Alphabet Inc. is a holding company. The Company's businesses include Google Inc. (Google) and its Internet products, such as Access, Calico, CapitalG, GV, Nest, Verily, Waymo and X.

Forbes Rank 2
Brand Value $101.8B
Immigrant 1st Generation
Country of Origin Russia

Eduardo Saverin

Brazilian Internet entrepreneur and angel investor.


Facebook, Inc. is focused on building products that enable people to connect and share through mobile devices, personal computers and other surfaces.

Forbes Rank 4
Brand Value $73.5B
Immigrant 1st Generation
Country of Origin Brazil

Jeff Bezos

American technology and retail entrepreneur, investor, computer scientist, and philanthropist.

Amazon, Inc. is an online retailer that offers a range of products and services through its websites. The company’s products include merchandise and content that it purchases for resale from vendors and those offered by third-party sellers. It also manufactures and sells electronic devices.

Forbes Rank 6
Brand Value $54.1B
Immigrant 2nd Generation
Country of Origin Cuba

Walt Disney, Roy Disney

American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer.


The Walt Disney Company is an entertainment company that conducts operations in media networks, studio entertainment, theme parks and resorts, consumer products, and interactive media. The company produces motion pictures, television programs, and musical recordings, as well as books and magazines.

Forbes Rank 7
Brand Value $43.9B
Immigrant 2nd Generation
Country of Origin Canada

Richard and Maurice McDonald, Ray Kroc

Founders of the original McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernardino, California and inventors of the 'Speedee Service System.'


McDonald's Corporation (McDonald's) operates and franchises McDonald's restaurants. The Company's restaurants serve a locally relevant menu of food and drinks sold at various price points in over 100 countries.

Forbes Rank 9
Brand Value $40.3B
Immigrant 2nd Generation
Country of Origin Ireland, Czech Republic

Thomas Edison

American inventor and businessman.

General Electric

General Electric is a global digital industrial company. The company's products and services range from aircraft engines, power generation, and oil and gas production equipment to medical imaging, financing and industrial products.

Forbes Rank 11
Brand Value $37.9B
Immigrant 2nd Generation
Country of Origin Canada

Alexander Graham Bell

Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator.


AT&T Inc. is a holding company. The Company is a provider of communications and digital entertainment services in the United States and around the world.

Forbes Rank 12
Brand Value $36.7B
Immigrant 1st Generation
Country of Origin Scotland

Herman Hollerith

American inventor who developed an electromechanical punched card tabulator to assist in summarizing information and, later, accounting.


International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is a technology company that operates through five segments: Cognitive Solutions, Global Business Services (GBS), Technology Services & Cloud Platforms, Systems and Global Financing.

Forbes Rank 13
Brand Value $33.3B
Immigrant 2nd Generation
Country of Origin Germany


2017 Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or the Children of Immigrants, by State
State Total Fortune 500 Companies Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Founded Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Share
Alabama 1 1 100%
Arizona 4 2 50%
Arkansas 6 1 17%
California 53 25 47%
Colorado 10 3 30%
Connecticut 18 6 33%
Delaware 2 2 100%
District of Columbia 2 0 0%
Florida 17 9 53%
Georgia 17 6 35%
Idaho 2 0 0%
Illinois 36 18 50%
Indiana 7 2 29%
Iowa 3 2 67%
Kansas 2 2 100%
Kentucky 3 1 33%
Louisiana 2 1 50%
Maryland 4 1 25%
Massachusetts 13 8 62%
Michigan 17 7 41%
Minnesota 18 6 33%
Missouri 10 3 30%
Nebraska 4 1 25%
Nevada 2 2 100%
New Jersey 21 8 38%
New York 54 32 59%
North Carolina 12 5 42%
Ohio 25 9 36%
Oklahoma 5 1 20%
Oregon 2 0 0%
Pennsylvania 21 9 43%
Rhode Island 4 0 0%
Tennessee 11 1 9%
Texas 50 17 34%
Virginia 23 13 57%
Washington 10 7 70%
Wisconsin 9 5 56%

Source: CAE analysis of Fortune Magazine data

2017 Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or the Children of Immigrants, by Metropolitan Area
Metro Area Total Fortune 500 Companies Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Founded Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Share
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ 2 1 50%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 15 5 33%
Austin-Round Rock, TX 2 0 0%
Battle Creek, MI 1 0 0%
Bethesda-Frederick-Gaithersburg, MD 4 1 25%
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 1 1 100%
Bloomington-Normal, IL 1 1 100%
Boise City-Nampa, ID 2 0 0%
Boston-Quincy, MA 4 1 25%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 12 4 33%
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 1 0 0%
Burlington, NC 1 1 100%
Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA 7 7 100%
Camden, NJ 2 1 50%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 1 1 100%
Cedar Rapids, IA 1 0 0%
Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC 5 2 40%
Chattanooga, TN-GA 1 0 0%
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL 22 11 50%
Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN 8 3 38%
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH 5 0 0%
Columbus, GA-AL 1 0 0%
Columbus, IN 1 0 0%
Columbus, OH 5 2 40%
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX 19 8 42%
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL 1 1 100%
Denver-Aurora, CO 10 3 30%
Des Moines, IA 2 2 100%
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI 5 2 40%
Durham, NC 1 1 100%
Edison, NJ 1 0 0%
El Paso, TX 1 0 0%
Erie, PA 1 0 0%
Evansville, IN-KY 1 0 0%
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO 3 0 0%
Fort Wayne, IN 1 1 100%
Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 3 0 0%
Ft Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield, FL 1 1 100%
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 1 0 0%
Greensboro-High Point, NC 1 1 100%
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA 2 0 0%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 5 2 40%
Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, TX 20 9 45%
Indianapolis, IN 3 1 33%
Jackson, MI 1 1 100%
Jacksonville, FL 3 3 100%
Kalamazoo-Portage, MI 1 0 0%
Kansas City, MO-KS 1 1 100%
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA 1 0 0%
Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI 11 5 45%
Lakeland, FL 1 0 0%
Lansing-East Lansing, MI 1 0 0%
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 2 2 100%
Little Rock-North Little Rock, AR 2 1 50%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 12 6 50%
Louisville, KY-IN 3 1 33%
Madison, WI 1 1 100%
Medford, OR 1 0 0%
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 3 1 33%
Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL 3 1 33%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 7 3 43%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 17 5 29%
Monroe, LA 1 0 0%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro, TN 6 0 0%
Nassau-Suffolk, NY 1 1 100%
New Haven-Milford, CT 1 0 0%
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA 1 1 100%
New York-Wayne-White Plains, NY-NJ 55 31 56%
Newark-Union, NJ-PA 12 7 58%
Niles-Benton Harbor, MI 1 0 0%
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA 5 4 80%
Oklahoma City, OK 2 0 0%
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA 4 1 25%
Orlando, FL 1 0 0%
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI 1 1 100%
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 1 0 0%
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 1 1 100%
Peoria, IL 1 0 0%
Philadelphia, PA 10 5 50%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 4 2 50%
Pittsburgh, PA 6 3 50%
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 1 0 0%
Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA 4 0 0%
Richmond, VA 8 5 63%
Roanoke, VA 1 1 100%
Rochester, NY 1 0 0%
San Antonio, TX 5 0 0%
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 2 1 50%
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA 13 4 31%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 17 10 59%
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA 3 0 0%
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA 10 7 70%
Springfield, MA 2 0 0%
Springfield, MO 1 1 100%
St. Louis, MO-IL 9 2 22%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 4 1 25%
Toledo, OH 3 2 67%
Trenton-Ewing, NJ 1 0 0%
Tulsa, OK 3 1 33%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA 3 2 67%
Warren-Farmington-Hills-Troy, MI 5 3 60%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA 13 5 38%
West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton, FL 2 1 50%
Wichita, KS 1 1 100%
Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ 2 2 100%
Winston-Salem, NC 3 0 0%
Non-Metropolitan Areas 11 5 45%

Source: CAE analysis of Fortune Magazine data

2017 Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or the Children of Immigrants, by Industry
Industry Total Fortune 500 Companies Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Founded Immigrant / Child of Immigrant Share
Business Services 22 14 64%
Consumer Goods 41 20 49%
Energy 60 19 32%
Finance/Insurance 79 26 33%
Health Care 21 5 24%
High-Tech 98 45 46%
Industrials 41 23 56%
Media/Entertainment 16 9 56%
Transportation/Logistics 35 18 51%
Wholesale/Retail 87 37 43%

Source: CAE analysis of Fortune Magazine data

2017 Fortune 500 Companies Founded by Immigrants or the Children of Immigrants, by Company, Founder, and Country of Origin
Rank Company Name Foreign Status Relevant Founder Country of Origin
3 Apple Child Steve Jobs Syria
9 AT&T Immigrant Alexander Graham Bell Scotland
10 Ford Motor Child Henry Ford Ireland
11 AmerisourceBergen Immigrant Lucien Brunswig France
12 Child Jeff Bezos Cuba
13 General Electric Immigrant Elihu Thomson, Thomas Edison (child) England, Canada
14 Verizon Communications Immigrant Alexander Graham Bell Scotland
16 Costco Wholesale Child Jeffrey Brotman Canada
17 Walgreens Boots Alliance Child Charles R. Walgreen Sweden
18 Kroger Child Bernard Kroger Germany
21 JPMorgan Chase & Co. Child Anthony Drexel Czech Republic
23 Home Depot Child Bernie Marcus Russia
24 Boeing Child William E. Boeing Germany, Austria
26 Bank of America Corp. Child Amadeo Giannini Italy
27 Alphabet Immigrant Sergey Brin Russia
30 Citigroup Child Sandy Weill Poland
31 Comcast Immigrant Daniel Aaron Germany
32 International Business Machines Child Herman Hollerith Germany
33 State Farm Insurance Cos. Child George Jacob "G.J." Mecherle Germany
34 Phillips 66 Child E.W. Marland England, Scotland
36 Procter & Gamble Immigrant William Procter, James Gamble England, Ireland
44 PepsiCo Immigrant William Loft, Charles Guth (child) England, Germany
46 United Parcel Service Child James Casey Ireland
50 United Technologies Child Frederick Rentschler Germany
51 Marathon Petroleum Child Henry M. Ernst Germany
52 Walt Disney Child Walt Disney, Roy Disney Canada
54 Pfizer Immigrant Charles Pfizer, Charles Erhart Germany
56 Lockheed Martin Child Allan and Malcolm Lockheed England
57 Sysco Child Herbert Irving Russia
62 Dow Chemical Immigrant Herbert Henry Dow Canada
69 Merck Child George Merck Germany
70 Cigna Immigrant John M. Nesbitt Ireland
73 Honeywell International Immigrant Albert Butz Switzerland
78 Goldman Sachs Group Immigrant Marcus Goldman Germany
80 TIAA Immigrant Andrew Carnegie Scotland
81 Oracle Child Larry Ellison, Bob Miner Russia, Iran
83 United Continental Holdings Child William Boeing Germany, Austria
87 TJX Immigrant Max and Morris Feldberg Russia
89 Exelon Immigrant Samuel Insull England
90 General Dynamics Immigrant John Philip Holland Ireland
94 3M Child John Dwan Canada
98 Facebook Immigrant Eduardo Saverin Brazil
100 Capital One Financial Immigrant Nigel Morris England
101 Twenty-First Century Fox Immigrant William Fox, Joseph Schenck Hungary, Russia
104 Philip Morris International Immigrant Gustave Eckmeyer Germany
105 Deere Child John Deere England
106 Kraft Heinz Child Henry J. Heinz Germany
108 Avnet Immigrant Charles Avnet Russia
109 Mondelez International Immigrant James L. Kraft Canada
112 McDonald's Child Richard and Maurice McDonald, Ray Kroc Ireland, Czech Republic
113 DuPont Immigrant E.I. du Pont France
114 Northrop Grumman Child Bill Schwendler Germany
115 ConocoPhillips Child E.W. Marland England, Scotland
116 Raytheon Child Laurence K. Marshall, Vannevar Bush, Charles G. Smith Canada
119 Qualcomm Immigrant Andrew Viterbi Italy
125 U.S. Bancorp Immigrant Donald Macleay Scotland
129 AutoNation Child H. Wayne Huizenga Holland
133 International Paper Immigrant Hugh Chisholm Canada
134 Tenet Healthcare Child Uranus J. Appel Austria-Hungary
136 Dollar Tree Child Macon Brock Jr. Canada
139 Emerson Electric Immigrant Charles and Alexander Meston Scotland
140 Staples Child Thomas G. Stemberg Austria
145 Southern Child Henry M. Atkinson England
146 ManpowerGroup Child Elmer L. Winter Austria
148 Altria Group Immigrant Gustave Eckmeyer Germany
149 Fluor Immigrant John Simon Fluor Sr. Switzerland
150 Kohl's Immigrant Maxwell Kohl Poland
151 Lear Child Frederick C. Matthaei Germany
154 Thermo Fisher Scientific Immigrant George Hatsopoulos Greece
157 PG&E Corp. Immigrant George Roe Canada
164 Paccar Child William Pigott Ireland
172 PBF Energy Child Peter G. Peterson Greece
174 CarMax Child Samuel S. Wurtzel Austria and Russia
175 Freeport-McMoRan Child Eric P. Swenson Sweden
177 Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Immigrant Thomas Mellon Northern Ireland
179 Omnicom Group Child William Bernbach Russia, Austria
180 Genuine Parts Child Carlyle Fraser Canada
182 Colgate-Palmolive Immigrant William Colgate England
183 PPG Industries Immigrant John Pitcairn Jr. Scotland
185 Synchrony Financial Immigrant Elihu Thomson, Thomas Edison (child) England, Canada
188 Nordstrom Immigrant John W. Nordstrom Sweden
189 INTL FCStone Immigrant Diego Veitia Cuba
190 WestRock Child William Luke Scotland
192 Aramark Child Davre J. Davidson Poland
193 CBS Child William S. Paley Ukraine
195 WellCare Health Plans Immigrant Kiran C. Patel, Pradip C. Patel Zambia
198 Synnex Immigrant Robert T. "Bob" Huang Taiwan
201 Waste Management Child H. Wayne Huizenga Holland
202 Illinois Tool Works Child Jack Leslie Scotland
203 Office Depot Child Jack Kopkin Russia
204 Monsanto Child John Francis Queeny Ireland
206 Texas Instruments Immigrant Cecil Green, J. Erik Jonsson (child), Patrick Haggerty (child) England, Sweden, Norway
210 Marsh & McLennan Child Donald L. McLennan Scotland
212 C.H. Robinson Worldwide Child Charles Henry Robinson Ireland
213 Loews Child Marcus Loew Austria, Germany
214 CBRE Group Child Albert Nion Tucker, John Conant Lynch Ireland
218 Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America Immigrant Hugo Wesendonck Germany
219 Ross Stores Child Stuart G. Moldaw Russia
220 L Brands Child Leslie H. Wexner Russia
222 Farmers Insurance Exchange Child Thomas E. Leavey Ireland
224 Viacom Child William S. Paley Ukraine
227 Principal Financial Immigrant Archibald Graham "A.G." McIlwaine Ireland
230 VF Child John Barbey Germany
233 Bed Bath & Beyond Child Warren Einsenberg Russia
234 Consolidated Edison Child Thomas Edison Canada
240 Automatic Data Processing Child Henry Taub Poland
241 Hilton Worldwide Holdings Child Conrad Hilton Norway
243 Henry Schein Immigrant Esther Schein Russia
247 Core-Mark Holding Immigrant Michaelis Glaser, Arnold Glaser Germany
248 Biogen Immigrant Charles Weissmann, Ivor Royston Hungary and Switzerland, England
249 Las Vegas Sands Immigrant Jake Freedman Russia
253 Estée Lauder Child Estée Lauder, Joseph Lauder Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Hungary
254 Celgene Immigrant Sol Barer Germany
257 CSX Immigrant Cyrus S. Eaton Canada
259 Jacobs Engineering Group Child Joseph J. Jacobs Lebanon
260 Lennar Child Arnold Rosen Poland
262 Leucadia National Child Joseph S. Steinberg Ukraine and Belarus
263 Entergy Immigrant Elihu Thomson, Thomas Edison (child) England, Canada
264 PayPal Holdings Immigrant Max Levchin, Luke Nosek, Peter Thiel Russia, Poland, Germany
268 Priceline Group Child Jay S. Walker Germany
273 L3 Technologies Child Allan Loughead England
275 Praxair Immigrant Carl von Linde Germany
278 Occidental Petroleum Child Armand Hammer Russia
279 United States Steel Immigrant Andrew Carnegie Scotland
281 Baxter International Child Donald Baxter Germany
282 W.W. Grainger Child William W. Grainger Scotland
290 Laboratory Corp. of America Child Charles and Joseph Revson Lithuania and Poland
292 Advance Auto Parts Child Arthur Taubman Austria-Hungary
293 Fidelity National Financial Immigrant C.V. Gillespie England
294 Air Products & Chemicals Child Leonard P. Pool England
295 Hormel Foods Child George A. Hormel Germany
296 Hertz Global Holdings Child Walter L. Jacobs Germany
297 MGM Resorts International Child Kerkor "Kirk" Kerkorian Armenia
301 Fidelity National Information Services Immigrant C.V. Gillespie England
305 BorgWarner Immigrant Charles Borg, Marshall Beck, George Schebler Sweden, Germany, Germany
306 Ball Child Edmund B. Ball, Frank C. Ball Canada
310 eBay Immigrant Pierre Omidyar France
311 Mohawk Industries Immigrant John, James, Walter, and Herbert Shuttleworth, William McCleary England (4x), Ireland
312 Oneok Child Dennis T. Flynn Ireland
314 Netflix Child Marc Randolph Austria
315 American Family Insurance Group Child Herman Wittwer Switzerland
316 Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Immigrant Albert Voecks  Germany
319 Avis Budget Group Child Morey Mirkin Russia
320 Reliance Steel & Aluminum Child Thomas J. Neilan Ireland
322 Tenneco Child August F. Meyer, William A. Walker Germany, England
323 O'Reilly Automotive Child Charles Francis O'Reilly Ireland
324 Peter Kiewit Sons' Child Peter and Andrew Kiewit Holland
327 Boston Scientific Child Peter M. Nicholas Greece
329 Genworth Financial Immigrant Archibald Graham "A.G." McIlwaine Ireland
331 Veritiv Immigrant Hugh Chisholm Canada
332 News Corp. Immigrant Rupert Murdoch Australia
333 Crown Holdings Immigrant William Painter Ireland
334 Global Partners Immigrant Abraham Slifka Poland
335 PVH Immigrant Moses and Endel Phillips, John Van Heusen Poland, Holland
336 Level 3 Communications Child Peter and Andrew Kiewit Holland
338 Univar Child Nat Rogers Canada
341 Weyerhaeuser Immigrant Frederick Weyerhaeuser Germany
345 Interpublic Group Child Alfred W. Erickson Sweden
346 J.M. Smucker Child Jerome Smucker Switzerland
347 Steel Dynamics Immigrant Mark Millett England
359 Anixter International Child Samuel Zell Poland
362 CenterPoint Energy Immigrant Thomas W. House England
363 Harris Child Charles G. Harris, Alfred F. Harris England
371 Ralph Lauren Child Ralph Lauren Belarus
372 Masco Immigrant Alex Manoogian Turkey
375 National Oilwell Varco Immigrant Baldwin Reinhold, Walter Abegg Switzerland
377 Mosaic Child William W. Cargill Scotland
378 Alliance Data Systems Child Leslie H. Wexner Russia
380 Huntington Ingalls Industries Child Bill Schwendler Germany
383 Tesla  Immigrant Elon Musk South Africa
386 Harman International Industries Immigrant Sidney Harman, Bernard Kardon Canada, Russia and Lithuania
387 Nvidia Immigrant Jensen Huang Taiwan
388 R.R. Donnelley & Sons Immigrant Richard R. Donnelley Canada
390 Quintiles IMS Holdings Immigrant Dennis Gillings England
392 Dover Child George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. Denmark
393 Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Child William E. Boeing Germany, Austria
395 A-Mark Precious Metals Child Steve Markoff Canada
397 Sealed Air Immigrant Marc A. Chavannes Switzerland
401 Owens-Illinois Child Michael Joseph Owens Ireland
402 Targa Resources Immigrant Eric Warburg Germany
414 Sanmina Immigrant Jure Sola, Milan Mandaric Bosnia, Croatia
415 CalAtlantic Group Child Arthur Svendsen Denmark
416 Dr Pepper Snapple Group Child Charles Alderton, Hyman Golden England, Romania
419 CMS Energy Child Samuel Jarvis England
422 Yum Brands Immigrant William Loft, Charles Guth (child) England, Germany
423 Casey's General Stores Child Don Lamberti Italy
425 Oshkosh Child Bernhard A. Mosling Norway
429 Expeditors International of Washington Immigrant Peter Rose, James Wang Canada, Taiwan
435 Harley-Davidson Child William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson England, Scotland
436 Regions Financial Immigrant Charles Linn Finland
438 Alaska Air Group Immigrant Charles H. Ruttan Canada
440 Lam Research Immigrant David K. Lam China
444 Avon Products Child David Hall McConnell Ireland
453 Clorox Child Archibald Taft Ireland
456 Ingredion Child E.T. Bedford England
458 Owens Corning Child Michael Joseph Owens Ireland
459 S&P Global Child James H. McGraw, John A. Hill Ireland
460 Markel Child Samuel A. Markel Russia
462 Arthur J. Gallagher Child Arthur J. Gallagher Ireland
463 Burlington Stores Child Monroe Milstein Russia
468 NetApp Immigrant James Lau Hong Kong
474 Mattel Child Ruth Handler Poland
475 AmTrust Financial Services Immigrant George and Michael Karfunkel Hungary
477 Simon Property Group Child Herbert and Melvin Simon Austria
482 Chemours Immigrant E.I. du Pont France
483 Western & Southern Financial Group Child Charles F. Williams Ireland
484 Celanese Immigrant Camille and Henry Dreyfus Switzerland
485 Windstream Holdings Child Sigurd L. Odegard, John A. Pratt Norway, Scotland
486 Seaboard Child Otto Bresky Russia
488 Apache Child Truman Anderson Norway
490 Kelly Services Immigrant William Russell Kelly Canada
494 CH2M Hill Immigrant Fred Merryfield England
495 Big Lots Immigrant Sol Shenk Russia
497 Toll Brothers Child Robert and Bruce Toll Ukraine
498 Yahoo Immigrant Jerry Yang Taiwan
500 ABM Industries Child Morris Rosenberg Poland

Source: CAE analysis of Fortune Magazine data


Our analysis is inspired by the New American Economy’s (NAE) 2011 study: The “New American” Fortune 500, which identified companies in the 2010 Fortune 500 that were founded by at least one immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Their analysis identified 90 of the 500 companies as being founded by at least one immigrant, and another 114 founded or co-founded by the child of an immigrant. Our objective was to extend that analysis to the 2017 Fortune 500 list.

To do this, we took a two-pronged approach – first, by independently identifying the founders of each company in the 2017 Fortune 500 list along with their immigration status, and, second, by systematically comparing our results with the NAE’s analysis for companies on both the 2010 and 2017 Fortune 500 lists. The source files for our analysis were the 2010 and 2017 Fortune 500 lists from Fortune Magazine’s data store, and the Appendix from NAE’s report.

To identify company founders, their immigration status, and the status of their parents, we used a wide-sweeping approach that included: company websites and historical documentation, investor databases and company profiles, Internet reference resources, historical Census and ancestry databases, news databases, and, in the case of some companies, direct correspondence with companies or their founders. We identified a company as being founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant only in cases where we could definitively confirm the identify of the company founder(s) and their nativity. In cases where we encountered any uncertainty as to founder(s) or their nativity, the company was identified as not immigrant founded.

This approach produces very conservative results. In dozens of cases, we were unable to identify a company founder at all. Many companies had particularly fragmented beginnings, were founded by large groups of people (cooperatives), or had otherwise murky information about company founders and their immigration status. Other companies were founded by government charter and, therefore, had no individual “founder”, while others are American subsidiaries of foreign companies and, therefore, have no founder who immigrated to the United States. In each of these more than sixty cases, the companies were counted as not immigrant founded, even though that classification is unlikely to be fully accurate.

Our results, therefore, represent a lower-bound estimate of the true number of Fortune 500 companies founded by a first- or second-generation immigrant. Had we been able to obtain fully reliable information regarding the origin of all Fortune 500 company founders, and if ineligible companies were removed from the analysis, our confident guess is that between 48 percent and 51 percent of eligible Fortune 500 companies would be determined to have been founded or co-founded by immigrants or the child of immigrants, compared to the 43 percent figure that our more conservative approach produces.

As a robustness check of our initial results, we conducted a second analysis in which we compared our results with NAE’s 2011 work, using data for companies on both the 2010 and 2017 Fortune 500 lists. Because company names can be spelled differently in each Fortune list, and because businesses change names, headquarters locations, or any number of identifying characteristics over time, we used a matching algorithm based on multiple fields of identifiers to link companies that were on the 2010 list with companies on the 2017 list. This produced 353 matches at a statistical probability suitable to confirm the identity of the companies.

Of the remaining 147 companies on the 2017 list, 34 were manually identified as being on the 2010 list (but failed to meet the statistical match because of changes in identifying characteristics, such as a name change) and 113 were entirely new. Of these new companies, 14 were spin-outs of companies on the 2010 list (and, therefore, assigned the founder and nativity status of the parent company) and 99 were new companies independent of those on the Fortune 2010 list.

For the 387 companies on both the 2010 and 2017 lists, we compared our results with those of the NAE analysis. Our results differed in about 7 percent of cases. Seventeen of these cases resulted in substantive (quantitative) differences – in 3 cases, companies were included in NAE’s list as being founded by immigrants or their children that we thought should have not have been, and in 14 cases companies had been excluded from NAE’s immigrant-founded list that we determined should have been included. In nearly twenty other cases, we disagreed with certain qualitative information (name of founders, spelling of names, countries of origin, etc.) that did not result in a change in founder status.