To get a sense of how thoroughly the global digital economy is dominated by the US and China, look no further than a recent list of the world’s most valuable internet-based companies. Eleven of the top 20 are from the US; the remainder are based in China.
When it comes to global recognition, however, there is a wide gap. Virtually every US internet titan is a household name in much of the world, starting with the big five—Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google/Alphabet, and Facebook—and continuing with companies such as Netflix, PayPal, Uber, and Airbnb. Among Chinese companies, Alibaba and Tencent are perhaps the best known globally, even though few consumers outside China and its neighboring countries interact directly with them. The names farther down the list—such as Didi Chuxing, Meituan-Dianping, and ByteDance—are more obscure beyond China.