The staggering amounts of money thrown around by corporations are simply beyond comprehension. Can you even conceive of $1 billion? Estimating the world’s population to be very roughly 6.6 billion (source: U.S. Census Bureau estimate), and the number of billionaires in the world to be 946 (source: Forbes), it is safe to say that 99.999986% of the world’s living persons have no sense of what it means to have $1 billion USD. Alternatively, we can say that 0.0000143% of the world’s population has at least $1 billion in assets.
Regardless of the exact value, the basic idea is clear: very few people have a lot of money. Yet corporations deal every day in sums that simply boggle the mind.
Exxon Mobil broke its own record by posting a $40.6 billion net income in the last fiscal year. This is the largest profit ever posted by any company. Ever. The last sentence of the second paragraph of the New York Times article is truly extraordinary (not in a good way).
The company’s sales, more than $404 billion, exceeded the gross domestic product of 120 countries.
This is utterly ridiculous. An alternative comparison: Microsoft today made some pretty big news by offering to acquire Yahoo! for $44.6 billion. The company that runs the second most popular search engine on the internet (after the juggernaut that is Google) is valued at only 10% more than the annual profit of an oil company.
I am not a fan of the basic concept behind World of Warcraft – make tons of money on an MMO that is super easy to play and really little more than a glorified RPG that happens to have some online functionality. But you can’t argue that Blizzard didn’t succeed in the “make tons of money” department.
As an aside, at the risk of sounding like a certain internet personality, why don’t people leave Britney Spears the fuck alone. Some people really have nothing better to do than be obsessed with someone’s very personal, very real psychological problems.