Who Owns The World’s Top Websites?

To understand how the internet is shaping our lives, it’s helpful to understand how the world moves around the internet. Which websites do people visit most often? What do people do on those websites? Who owns the world’s top websites?

I gathered a list of the world’s top 50 websites to observe the internet from a birds eye view. My research involved grouping the internet’s most popular sites into companies to figure out owns the most popular websites, and why. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not who you think it is.

Among the world’s top 50 domains, there were 9 domains that were specific country versions of already-listed websites (google.de, amazon.jp, etc…), so I excluded duplicates and was left with 41 unique websites. My analysis covers both mobile and desktop web pages, but not traffic to mobile apps.

Among The World’s 41 Top Websites

Alphabet owns 3.

Between Google and YouTube, Alphabet gets over 80 billion visits per month combined.  Google truly owns the web, it’s not even a contest.  Google’s search engine alone gets almost 60 billion visits per month. 

YouTube only gets 20-25 billion visits per month, but those visits to YouTube are 2.2x longer than the ones to Google. The average visit to YouTube is 22 minutes. Across every other top website, nobody comes close to 22 minutes per visit, most trend around 8-10 minutes per visit. YouTube has mastered the art of keeping people’s attention.

AmpProject, which is an open-source project that Google bootstrapped, accounts for their other domain. It’s not a media property, but more like a web standard for fast-loading pages across the web.

Facebook also owns 3.

Facebook’s core website gets roughly 20 billion visits per month, and Instagram and WhatsApp provide an additional 5 billion visits per month combined. 

Mail.ru also owns 3.

Mail.ru is Russia’s largest internet company, their domains cover a range of internet services from E-mail to search to social media.

Amazon also owns 3.

Amazon’s core website is the largest e-commerce site in the world with over 2.5 billion visits per month.

Amazon’s other two top websites are twitch.tv and imdb.com. People often forget, but Amazon has owned IMDB since they purchased it outright in 1998 for $55 million. IMDB and Twitch each add between 500 million and 1 billion visits per month to Amazon’s ecosystem.

Alibaba also owns 3.

AliExpress and TaoBao are two e-commerce sites each doing between 500 million to 1 billion visits per month. The other top domain Alibaba owns is SM.cn, a Chinese search engine also getting between 500 million and 1 billion visits per month.

But none of those companies even come close to the top spot. There’s one American company that owns 7 of the top 41 websites in the world. Any guesses?

It’s Microsoft. Let’s dig deeper here.

The Many Websites of Microsoft

At first, this is a head-scratcher. How does Microsoft have 7 unique websites with traffic on par with the likes of Facebook, Google, and Amazon?

Only when you review the domains, it begins to make sense. It even helps shine light on possible future moves for the tech giant.

Microsoft owns:

  • Live.com; their Outlook email service gets 2.5 billion visits per month
  • Bing.com; their search engine gets 1.3 billion visits per month (only 2.2% as big as Google)
  • LinkedIn.com; their professional social network gets 1 billion visits per month
  • Office.com; their suite of productivity tools gets 800 million visits per month
  • MSN.com; their news and media platform gets 800 million visits per month
  • Microsoft.com; their homepage linking users to their product suite gets 700 million visits per month
  • GitHub.com; their developer platform gets 500 million visits per month

It’s easy to forget Microsoft owns half of these properties, but they do. And if you take a second look at that list, you’ll notice something.

Microsoft’s Professional Ecosystem

4 or 5 of those 7 websites are clearly for professionals. This is no co-incidence, it’s right in line with Microsoft’s mission to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”.  

From a birds-eye view, Microsoft’s collection of domains makes perfect sense. They’re aiming to own the professional world. But there’s one missing piece.

Microsoft already owns the global ecosystems around:

  • Professional networking (LinkedIn has over 500 million users)
  • Developer communication (GitHub has over 24 million developers)
  • Business productivity (Office has over 100 million professional users and 27 million consumer users)
  • And has a horse in the crowded race for external messaging (Outlook has 400 million active users)

What if Microsoft bought Slack to take over the world’s internal messaging ecosystem too? Any modern company would struggle to run their business without using one (but probably many more) of Microsoft’s products. 

To take this one step further, imagine if Microsoft integrated all their professional products into one seamless experience (a la Amazon Prime).

This has been on my mind all week, and I’m going to save the thought for a future blog post.

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