Fortune 500

Some of the largest companies and best known brands in the United States were founded by immigrants. A study conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy concluded that 40 percent of the Fortune 500 were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Here we have profiled 30 of these immigrant entrepreneurs. They were inventors, financiers, pioneers and philanthropists. Today, the companies they founded collectively produce more than $1.1 trillion in annual revenue. Click on a name or logo to learn more about these impressive business leaders.

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  • Scotland
    AT&T and Verizon
    Ranked 9 and 20 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Alexander Graham Bell is recognized as the inventor of the telephone and the man responsible for spawning a global telecommunications industry.

  • Russia
    Alphabet (Google)
    Ranked 11 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    In 2018, Forbes named Sergey Brin the 35th most powerful person in the world.

  • Germany
    Comcast
    Ranked 28 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    A refugee from Nazi Germany and an orphan, Daniel Aaron helped Comcast become the largest cable company in the United States

  • England
    General Electric
    Ranked 33 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Elihu Thomson was a multifaceted scientist, inventor and engineer who held nearly 700 patents.

  • Ireland
    Procter & Gamble
    Ranked 50 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Procter and Gamble were brothers-in-law married to a pair of sisters. They might never have met if fate had not intervened.

  • England
    Procter & Gamble
    Ranked 50 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Procter and Gamble were brothers-in-law married to a pair of sisters. They might never have met if fate had not intervened.

     

  • Germany
    Pfizer Inc.
    Ranked 64 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Pfizer’s first product was an almond-toffee-flavored anti-parasitic.

     

  • Russia
    TJX Companies, Inc.
    Ranked 80 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Two generations of Feldbergs created the business that became TJX and BJ’s Wholesale Club.

  • Scotland
    TIAA and United States Steel
    Ranked 81 and 247 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Andrew Carnegie’s steel company produced more metal than all of Great Britain in 1900.

  • Switzerland
    Honeywell International
    Ranked 92 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Albert Butz invented the thermostat, which created a whole new industry.

  • England
    Capital One Financial
    Ranked 97 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    After obtaining an MBA in his home country, Nigel Morris moved to the United States because it “just seemed to be where the action was.”

  • Canada
    Kraft Heinz, Mondelez International
    Ranked 122 and 117 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Kraft Foods started as a one-man business selling cheese with a horse and wagon.

  • Greece
    Thermo Fischer Scientific
    Ranked 119 in 2020 Fortune 500

    Thermo Electron Corporation was started in 1956 with $50,000. It became Thermo Fischer Scientific and had revenues of $20.9 billion in 2017.

  • South Africa
    PayPal and Tesla
    Ranked 182 and 124 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Forbes listed Elon Musk as 2019’s Most Innovative Leader, TIME named him one of the of the 100 most influential people in the world and Fortune named him the top business person of 2013.

     

  • Canada
    International Paper and Veritiv
    Ranked 144 and 412 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Under Hugh Chisholm’s leadership, International Paper controlled 60 percent of the American newsprint market.

     

  • France
    DuPont de Nemours
    Ranked 152 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    DuPont was an early “transnational” business relying on knowledge, equipment and capital raised in France.

  • Zambia
    WellCare Health Plans
    Ranked 155 in the 2019 Fortune 500

    Patel’s mission was to make healthcare efficient, affordable and accessible.

     

  • Ireland
    BNY Mellon
    Ranked 159 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Mellon rejected a life on the farm in favor of law and business.

     

  • Poland
    Kohl’s
    Ranked 165 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Maxwell Kohl started his entrepreneurial career with a chain of grocery stores.

  • Scotland
    Emerson
    Ranked 176 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Emerson sold the first electric fans in America, invented by two orphans from Scotland.

     

  • Ukraine
    PayPal
    Ranked 182 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Levchin sought asylum in the United States from the Soviet-controlled Ukraine.

     

  • India
    Cognizant
    Ranked 194 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Francisco D’Souza studied in seven schools around the world in places such as Panama, Zaire, New Delhi, New York, Trinidad, Hong Kong and Pittsburgh.

  • Sweden
    Nordstrom
    Ranked 205 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Nordstrom came to the United States with just $5.00, amassed $13,000 within two years and was able to open his first store.

  • Scotland
    PPG Industries
    Ranked 209 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    John Pitcairn Jr. dropped out of school at age 14 and went on to create an industrial giant, PPG Industries.

  • England
    Biogen
    Ranked 223 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Royston is a doctor with business savvy and even won a Tony award.

  • Switzerland
    Biogen
    Ranked 223 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Weissmann is a preeminent businessman and scientist. He was the first to clone alpha-interferon genes and made breakthroughs in treating several diseases.

  • Taiwan
    NVIDIA Corporation
    Ranked 292 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Huang started out cleaning toilets in the dorm of his school for “difficult children.”

  • France
    eBay
    Ranked 295 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    The first item sold on eBay was Omidyar’s broken laser pointer.

     

  • Germany
    Weyerhaeuser
    Ranked 457 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    The New York Times credited Weyerhäuser’s incredible success to “German regularity, caution, thrift, industry and perseverance.”

  • Germany
    Levi Strauss
    Ranked 495 in the 2020 Fortune 500

    Levi’s 501 jeans were born in San Francisco at the hands of two immigrants.