Google And Microsoft Battle For Market Cap Supremacy

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Update: Microsoft pulled it off, and at the time of writing (2:45 pm London, 9:45 am New York), Microsoft is worth more than Google. We’ll check back in at the end of the day:

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Google and Microsoft are currently locked in a dogfight to be the second-most valuable technology company in the world. Following Google’s less-than-awesome earnings report, combined with a pre-market rise from Microsoft, the two tech giants are neck-and-neck for market cap supremacy.

Apple and Exxon Mobil will still be worth more than the dueling technology giants. The four firms have a combined market cap of more than $1.5 trillion.

Yesterday, Google’s earnings report sent its stock down more than 5 percent in after-hours trading. Google fell in early pre-market trading, but opened up a fraction. Microsoft opened up just over 1 percent.

Leaning on Yahoo Finance and CNBC data, Google closed yesterday worth $354.77 billion. Microsoft, $352.17 billion. Today, Google opened worth $357.05 billion, and Microsoft $356.13 billion, keeping a minute sliver of air between them. Put another way, Google’s quick rally before the open of the market saved it from starting the day less valuable than its Redmond-based rival.

The potential switch-up is more symbolic than material, but worth noting all the same given the massive competitive surface area that the two companies share. As with other platform companies, Google and Microsoft compete in a number of categories, from gaming to music to cloud computing to hardware to operating systems to developer ecosystems, and all the way back to search.

Thus, to perhaps see one firm surpass the other in worth is something that will cause consternation on one end, and smugness on the other.

Hold fast, however, as Microsoft has yet to report its own earnings. If the company manages to pass Google today, it could easily give up any edge if its quarterly grades aren’t up to expectations. What might go wrong? Weak Surface revenue would hurt, as would a larger-than-expect phone loss. A deceleration in Office 365 growth might spook investors. Poor consumer demand for PCs could harm Windows incomes. And if Azure slows down, the street might look for an exit.

But that’s all to come. For now, after battling a firestorm of its own creation, Microsoft could be headed for at least one day in the sun1.

1. Kidding. It’s probably raining in Redmond.