EDIT: That’s all we have time for today! Thank you so much for all your great, thought-provoking questions.

I’m Scott DeCarlo, the list editor at Fortune. We recently announced the 69th Fortune 500 ranking, our annual list of the largest corporations in the United States, ranked by revenue for the 2022 fiscal year. AMA!

Along with the Fortune 500, I also oversee the publication’s signature lists, including the Global 500, World’s Most Admired Companies, and Fastest Growing Companies.

Here is a link to Fortune rankings: https://fortune.com/ranking/

Since joining Fortune in 2014, I have years of experience at turning data into editorial content to find new and innovative ways to showcase list data digitally on Fortune.com.

I have spent more than 30 years doing financial research/analysis on both private and public global companies and people’s net worth.

PROOF: https://imgur.com/a/sGohJHG

Comments: 270 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

popemichael168 karma

Have you ever had to deal with a company that fudged their numbers to try to get onto the Fortune 500 list?

fortune203 karma

Yes, I have. Fortune goes to great lengths to quality check company financial statements and vets their figures. If we do not feel the figures hold up to our standard, we will exclude them from the list. - Scott

MarcDVL124 karma

The Fortune 500 is a list of revenue. To me, this seems weird because supermarkets (well WalMart) generally top the list. This to me isn’t meaningful information. Should it not be a list by profit, or some other metric (or combination).

If I sold a trillion dollar bills for 99 cents each (or even $1), I would be number one.

What are your thoughts?

fortune117 karma

The Fortune 500 rank is based on revenue. We also rank the universe by profits, assets, market value, and employees. When you sort by each metric, you can see different trends.

Revenue figures are most stable from year to year and it measures how much the company is generating that feeds into the economy.

There are wild fluctuations in profits and market value from year to year based on the business environment and climate. For example, companies always generate revenue but are not always profitable.

- Scott

noSoRandomGuy59 karma

Sorry, do not mean to trivialize the big data part or be judgemental, but isn't the 500 list just based on well defined criteria? What is the analysis part that goes into making the list?

fortune59 karma

Please don't say this to my boss or they may reduce my compensation. There is a lot of analysis that goes into building and maintaining databases, prospecting companies, estimating revenue thresholds, understanding/analyzing financials statements, and then composing the main lists and sub-lists. Maybe I need a raise. - Scott

slim_scsi54 karma

Isn't it a sad state of affairs that 500 companies comprise 2/3 of the entire U.S. GDP? Is this due to trickle down economics enabling the record income inequality seen today that's on par with the Gilded Age and the "there's always a bigger shark" swallowing companies whole philosophy of this era's corporate raider brand of Capitalism? At this pace, the Fortune 500 will represent 100% of the GDP in about a decade or two.

fortune-39 karma

Interesting opinion. I am not sure it is a sad state of affairs. I just think it tells the story of big business significance. In 1955, the Fortune 500 accounted for 35% of GDP and now it is two-thirds. - Scott

DickeTitten6933 karma

What value does this list provide to the general public?

fortune35 karma

This list gives you an insight into the American economy since it includes the biggest U.S. companies by revenue. For example, a few years ago we saw a big dip in figures due to the pandemic and the next year we saw a tremendous rebound by companies.

Also, we are able to see trends in industries. For example, Health Care companies accounted for 8 of the top 25 this year. In 1995, there were no Health Care companies in the top 25.

- Scott

Scrapheaper22 karma

What's your tooling? Excel, SQL, python, tableau?

fortune31 karma

I use Excel primarily, but I am interested in learning Python. I have talked to numerous people who have made a move to Python and praised the advantages. I have my sights on this tool. - Scott

corbsben6 karma

What feature in excel do you use the most?

fortune16 karma

I am a "pivot table" maniac. This helps carve up the list's large amounts of data in a minute's time. - Scott

worldlatin21 karma

when looking at public cos, do you take the data from bloomberg & pay the subscription or do you use yahoo finance or SEC filings?

fortune31 karma

We pull and check our data with company filings. It is always best to go to the source. We have a subscription to a Bloomberg terminal and I use it everyday.

I am not a big Yahoo Finance user since we have access to Bloomberg and also have access to the S&P Global Market Intelligence platform. The platforms play an integral role in the production of the list, but you always need to vet with company filings.

- Scott

Gettin_Slizzard13 karma

What have been some interesting trends or changes in the Fortune 500 over the past 69 years?

fortune24 karma

In 1995, we added services companies to the list universe.  Prior to that year, it was only industrial companies. One trend to point out this year: The health care sector accounted for eight companies in the top 25 ranked Fortune 500 companies, led by UnitedHealthGroup & CVS Health. In 1995, the top 25 included no health care companies.

Our magazine's cover story explained the trend! You can check it out here: https://fortune.com/longform/cvs-health-unitedhealth-group-us-health-care-system-mergers/

- Scott

Aquaman197010 karma

You deal with all this money, can't we just get some?

fortune8 karma

Sure thing. Please go to www.fortune.com, give your contact information, and maybe we will cut you a check. I am still trying to get my hands on some. - Scott

happytimefuture7 karma

If you could change something about the American Economy, what would you change? Why?

Follow up: did you always want to do this for a living?

Further Follow up: any plans for summer?

fortune10 karma

For your first question: This is a loaded question. I do not have the answer. If I did, I would not be here answering these questions. Companies need to be more accountable in how they conduct business and shape the economy.

For your follow up: This is a good one. I told my old man that I would work for my first company (Forbes) for 2 years out of school. I ended up being there for 20+ yrs and now I've been at Fortune for 9 years.

For your further follow up: I go fishing down the Jersey Shore and try to cap it with a trip to the Amalfi Coast in the fall. Have a good summer!

- Scott

JizuzCrust7 karma

How much do they pay in taxes?

fortune7 karma

This is a good question. We used to produce lists of companies that pay the most taxes and the highest/lowest effective annual tax rates. As you know these tax rates can be legally manipulated and some companies are more efficient that others. - Scott

Lone_Beagle6 karma

What do you find helpful in turning data into a story?

fortune5 karma

When I do these lists, there are always overall trends, sector trends, and company trends that we turn into feature stories, charts, and graphics.

You can read stories from the most recent issue of our magazine here, including Airbnb's introduction to the 500 list, CEO predictions for the future of A.I., are more: https://fortune.com/section/magazine/

- Scott

dun1986 karma

I'm curious about the idea of significant data, which is hard to convey to the general public. What data do you find is often overlooked and/or difficult to translate into captivating editorial pieces?

fortune7 karma

I think big data can always tell a story and be turned into an interesting editorial piece. The degree of outstanding trends vary, but there is always a story there. - Scott

DasHotShot5 karma

How has the importance of the Fortune 500 List evolved since its inception in the 50s? Why do people rely on it more than say the Fortune 1000 or 100?

fortune11 karma

In 1955, we only included industrial companies because at that time there were not many services companies. We evolved in 1995 and added service companies as the American industry changed.

Now, we see the list company presence dominated by the service industry, and Walmart is #1 for the 11th straight year.

The Fortune 500, 100, and 1000 all tell a story. The Fortune 500 are deemed "large" companies based on the revenue threshold. Here are some fun stats: The top 50 ranked Fortune 500 companies account for 49% and 45% of total revenue and profits, respectively. The top 100 ranked Fortune 500 companies account for 64% and 59% of total revenue and profits, respectively.

- Scott

heyiambob5 karma

Is your team’s work more so data engineering than data science? Where do you source the data?

fortune8 karma

I think it is an equal mix of data engineering and data science in my and my team's work. We use company filings and numerous data platforms on our data collection and analysis, such as S&P Global, Bloomberg, and Refinitiv's Eikon. - Scott

baklund4 karma

Stupid question, but bear with me. Why does fortune make this list? Do you sell the insight or make any revenue out of this research?

fortune11 karma

This is not a stupid question. Fortune launched the list in 1955 to measure the business community by revenue. If you look at historical list aggregates, You will see the business trends over a 69-year period since these are the biggest companies in the U.S.

We do have Fortune Analytics site where people can purchase the list for their own analysis: https://fortune.com/analytics/fortune-500

- Scott

CatLords2 karma

How do you get all the data to make these calculations?

fortune3 karma

We use company filings and data platforms such as Bloomberg, Eikon, and S&P Global Market Intelligence to gather the list data. - Scott

YorkshireBloke2 karma

Are there any trends you're noticing that might mean a surge in new companies entering the list? Electronic vehicles for example.

fortune1 karma

Good question. The new companies that jump on the list could be a direct result of industry. We saw that with Moderna last year. We had a number of real estate companies a year ago on the list and they fell off. Tesla reached the top 50 this year (#50), quicker than any company, so we are seeing the electronic car trend.

You can see the newcomers on the Fortune 500 list here: https://fortune.com/2023/06/05/airbnb-silicon-valley-bank-new-fortune-500-companies/

- Scott

JTrollFaceNinja2 karma

what software apps or programming languages do you use in your line of work? R, Python, Stata, ...?

fortune4 karma

I use Excel primarily, but I am interested in learning Python. I have talked to numerous people who have made a move to Python and praised the advantages. I have my sights on this tool. - Scott

Trader31 karma

How does one get into your line of work?

What do you use to style your facial hair?

fortune6 karma

I have a finance degree and started working for a magazine after graduating college. For facial hair: Norelco razor. - Scott