General Electric Company, popularly known as GE Company, is a multinational Company (MNC) and American Conglomerate, which is headquartered in Boston, America, and was incorporated in the New York State of the United States (US). Until 2021, GE Company was one of the multinational companies that had a portfolio diversified in multiple sectors, including venture capital and finance, locomotives, additive manufacturing, digital industry, renewable energy, power, and aviation. But these scenarios have been changed completely since 2021 as the company has divested from multiple sectors and limited its portfolio to only the last four sectors from the list given above (Digital Industry, renewable energy, power, and aviation). The GE Company was ranked as the 33rd largest firm in the United States alone in terms of revenue generation, and this company was also among the Fortune 500 companies in the world.
GE Company was also ranked as the 33rd largest firm or company in the United States (US) in terms of gross revenue generated by the company. This ranking figure of the company was even more exciting back in 2014 when GE company was ranked as one of the Fortune 20 companies of 2014. In the year 2014, GE company was listed as the 14th most profitable company in the world on the list of Fortune 20 companies of 2014. But later, this company underperformed in many instances, which led to the collapse of the business share of this company in the market and resulted in the company's loss of profitability. After listing under the Fortune 20 companies in 2014, GE company severely underperformed for many years, and this later resulted in a nearly 75% collapse in the profitability of the company.
The company has a high reputation and standards in the market, which can be seen in the achievements of its employees also. For example, many employees of the GE company have won many big national and international awards, including two employees from the company who also won Noble Prize while working for the company. The name of the employees who won the noble prize while working in the GE company are given below:
After a huge decline in the revenue and profitability of the company, GE company started to look for plans so that they regrow their profitability and can expand their business. Implementing their plan for further expansion and growth of the company, the GE company, on November 9, 2021, officially announced that the company would be divided into three different companies, and each of them would be focusing on a particular sector. The three sectors in which the three new companies would be focusing are given below:
As per the latest developments and current scenarios in the company, the first spinoff for the three different companies will be based in the healthcare sector. And the first spinoff under the healthcare segment can likely be expected in the first half of 2023. After that, the first spinoff under the energy segment from the GE company in the next year (2024) as per the current reports & speculations.
GE: History and Growth
Foundation and Formation
It was the time of 1889 when Thomas Edison (a great scientist) had an interest in the business of many electricity-related companies. The list of electricity-related companies in which Thomas Edison had interests was quite long and had names of many popular electricity-related companies at that time, including Edison Lamp Company, Bergmann & Company, and many other popular electric-based companies as well. Following is the complete list of all the popular electric-based companies in which Thomas Edison had large interests back then:
Later, in the year 1889, Anthony J. Drexel and JP Morgan founded a company together, which they created to finance the research work of Thomas Edison. The company founded by them was named Drexel, Morgan & Co, and this company was also focused on helping to merge all the different companies in which Thomas Edison either had interests or working with these companies. The main purpose behind the merging idea of all these companies was to make a big corporation so that all different types of electric-based work can be done under the name of one corporation only. After forming the Drexel, Morgan & Co, both Anthony J. Drexel and JP Morgan were planning to merge all these companies to make a big corporation so that they could form Edison General Electric Company.
Finally, the main idea or aim of Drexel, Morgan & Co came true, and on April 24, 1889, Edison General Electric Company was formed. The first big step done by the company after its formation was the acquisition of Sprague Electric Railway & Motor Company, a company that was acquired by Edison General Electric Company in the same year of its foundation (1889). One major thing which was pointed out during this consolidation of all the companies is that not all the companies established by Thomas Edison were not a part of this consolidation. For example, Edison Illuminating Company, one of the electric-based manufacturers that were established by Thomas Edison, was not a part of this consolidation but later became Consolidated Edison.
A popular electric-based company, which was formed by Gerald Waldo Hart in the year 1980, was an American electric-based company that was based in New Britain, Connecticut. It was one of the most popular electric-based companies founded in New Britain. Later, this company was merged with the Thomson-Houston General Electric Company, a company which was led by Charles Coffin, in the year 1886. After the merger of Hart's American electric-based company with Thomson-Houston General Electric Company, the original founder of the company, Gerald Waldo Hart, exited from the company in 1887 to become superintendent of the Edison Electric Company, having an office in Kansas City, Missouri.
These two companies (Thomson-Houston General Electric Company & Edison General Electric Company) were the biggest electric-based companies in the market at that time and also the biggest competitors of each other. These two companies were so powerful, and one can get this idea from the fact that alone these two companies had more than 90% of the market share (in terms of consumers holding) at that time. But for the development and growth of these companies, and to come out from the loss incurred because of the competition between these two, the news of merger of these two companies were circulating in the market. Finally, the news became official in 1892 when both these companies got merged to form the General Electric Company (the biggest electric-based company at that time). The merger of these companies was only possible because of the plan and support of Drexel, Morgan & Co.
Before the merger, the main plant of Thomson-Houston General Electric Company was located in Lynn, Massachusetts, whereas the main plant of Edison General Electric Company was located in Schenectady, New York. Both of these plants are still operational, but now these plants are operating under the banner name of GE company. When GE company was formed, it was incorporated in the Schenectady city of New York (where the main plant of Edison General Electric Company was located), and the company used this place as its headquarter of the company for many years after its foundation. Another electric-based company in Canada, named Canadian General Electric, which was formed as the General Electric counterpart of Canada, was formed at a similar time.
Rudolf Eickemeyer having headquarter in Yonkers, New York, one of the biggest manufacturers at that time, was bought by General Electric Company later. The General Electric Company bought this manufacturer along with all its designs and patents in the year 1893. Charles Proteus Steinmetz, an employee of the Canadian General Electric Company, was already publishing in the field of Magnetic Hysteresis in New York, USA. Charles also earned worldwide professional recognition even though he only recently arrived in the United States. The firm of Eickemeyer, which was led by Charles Proteus Steinmetz, was able to develop the transformers at that time successfully. This firm developed transformers so that they can be used in the transmission of electrical power among many different types of electric and mechanical devices. Soon after this development and the huge success of the development of the Transformer, Steinmetz quickly became one of the best members of the GE company and was popularly known as the engineering wizard in GE's engineering community at that time.
Entitlement of Public Company
It was the time of 1896 when GE company was growing to its full fledge, and at that time, this company was also counted as one of the 12 original companies that were listed on the newly formed Dow Jones Industrial Average at that time. Once listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the GE company remained part of this list for almost 122 years but not continuously. The NELA (National Electric Lamp Association), one of the largest associations for the lamp manufacturers, was also acquired by the GE company into its lighting business in the year 1911. After this absorption of NELA, GE company later also established its lighting business headquarter at the Nela Park located in East Cleveland, Ohio. The main branch and headquarter of the lighting division or sector of the company have remained at the Nela Park, East Cleveland, Ohio, since then.
NBC & RCA
As part of the company's expansion plan, Owen D Young first purchased the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America in the year 1919, and soon after purchasing this telegraph company, he also founded the Radio Corporation of America in the same year. The Radio Corporation of America foundation of Young is still very popular in America as well as in many neighboring countries, and it is popularly known as RCA. The GE company used this RCA foundation as the retail arm of the company for the sales of Radio, and Owner D Young himself also aimed to expand the business in international radio communications. With the plan to expand the Radio business of the company and expand international radio communications, the RCA foundation co-founded the National Broadcasting Channel in the year 1926. The National Broadcasting Channel, which is popularly known as NBC, also built the two radio networks after its formation. After many years of successfully running Radio sales and expanding business, GE was ordered to divest itself to RCA because the company was charged with many antitrust violations in 1930.
Television (TV) Business
The first demonstration of the television broadcast reception by the GE company was made in the year 1927, the same time when the company was expanding its radio networks and business internationally. Ernst Alexanderson from the GE company was the first person who made the demonstration of the television broadcast reception in 1927. Alexanderson made this demonstration at his General Electric Realty Plot home, which was located at 1132 Adams Rd, Schenectady, New York. Ernst Alexanderson made the television broadcast reception on January 13, 1928, and this broadcast is also said to be the first broadcast to the public in the United States. This first public broadcast in the US was made on the W2XAD device of the GE company itself. In this device, during the broadcasting, the pictures were picked up at the homes of all the four GE executives at that time on the 9.7 square centimeters (1.5 square inches) screen. During this demonstration of the television broadcast reception, the sound was broadcasted on the WGY (AM) device of the GE company.
The W2XAD, which was an experimental television station of the GE company, was later evolved into the WGRB station along with the development of WGFM and WGY stations. These two WGY and WGFM (which is now known as WRVE) stations of the GE company were under the complete control of the GE company's Electrical Unit until 1983 when both of these stations were sold to other big corporates. The GE company launched one of its franchises in 1965, and with the launch of this franchise, the company also got itself involved in the cable business. This franchise of the company, which was associated with the company's cable business, was later awarded to a non-exclusive franchise in Schenectady. This non-exclusive franchise was awarded through one of its subsidiaries (General Electric Cablevision Corporation). With the plan and in order to acquire more and more television stations so that the target of reaching the maximum limit of the FCC can be met, the GE company started expanding its holdings on February 15, 1965. The company planned to acquire more & more cable holdings through its following two subsidiaries:
The GE company had many television stations under its portfolio through the above-listed two television business subsidiaries such as WSIX-TV (which was later named WNGE-TV and now named WKRN) and KOA-TV (currently known as KCNC-TV). Although the company had many more television stations under its subsidiaries, same as the case with the WRGB television station, the GE company sold off most of its broadcasting holdings, including the WSIX-TV and KOA-TV television stations. It is also noted that although the company sold off most of its broadcasting holdings from its respective subsidiaries, the company still held its business on the Denver television station till 1986. In the year 1986, when the GE company sold out the RCA & converted it into an owned-and-operated station by NBC, it also sold off the Denver television station. The company's rights on this television broadcasting holdings stayed on until 1996, when the broadcasting holdings were completely transferred to a joint venture between Group W and CBS. This transfer of rights to the above-mentioned joint venture was a swap deal from the GE company. Also, the company swapped the KUTV television station of Salt Lake City, which was a long time under the CBS located in O&O, Philadelphia.
Along with the many big corporates like UNIVAC, RCA, Honeywell, Control Data Corporation, NCR, Burroughs, and IBM, GE was also present in the list of eight major computer companies of the 1960s. The GE company had a line of multiple types of computers, and under each type of computer, this company produced many popular computers of that time. Following are the name of some popular computers produced by the GE company from each type, along with the name of the computer type:
The last two names of computers, i.e., DATANET 355 & DATANET 30, were also used as the mainframe computers and front-end processing computers. Apart from this list of computers, the GE company also developed DATANET 500 computer model, which never got sold. From making computers and PCs, the company also started developing Operating Systems (OS) in 1962, and the first OS developed by the company in 1962 was named GECOS (which was later renamed GCOS). The main idea of the company behind this development of operating systems was to use the operating systems developed by the company for batch processing, but soon after the company started developing OS for computers, the company extended its vision and working of operating systems developed by it to transaction processing and timesharing.
Around this time, the company also got into the market of computer manufacturers, and the major reason behind this plan of the company was that the GE company was the largest user of computers outside the US. It was also a fact that GE company was the first business in the world that owned a computer to use in their business. Although in the year 1970, the company sold off its computer manufacturing sector to Honeywell (another big computer manufacturing giant at that time), which also concluded in the exit of GE company from the computer division, this company also retained its position in the timesharing operations even some year after the final deal with Honeywell.
After a few decades, in the 2000s, United Technology Corporation was planning and offering to buy Honeywell, the GE company was the first one that made a counter-offer to Honeywell, and later this offer was also approved by Honeywell itself. But due to conflicts with the European Union and many other big corporates in the European market, the acquisition of Honeywell and its market share by GE company was forfeited with the EU's statement that "prohibit the proposed acquisition by General Electric Co. of Honeywell Inc.". After a few years, the GE company made an announcement that it was partnering with the design company Quirky to work on their project of connecting LED bulbs, which they later named Link. Together, these two companies designed this Link Bulb to communicate with smartphones and tablets using their app called Wink.
GE: Acquisitions and Divestments
The GE company, since its formation, has made a large number of acquisitions, including many big corporates and companies from many different business sectors. But even after all these acquisitions of the GE company, the major business and focus of this company always remained on their electric-based companies. If the number of acquisitions made by GE company since its formation has to be presented on a list, it will make very long and never-ending list (as GE company still has many plans to acquire many corporates at the present time). Therefore, here an overview list of all the major acquisitions made by the GE company is given below:
Apart from all the major acquisitions listed above, the GE company has also made many big acquisitions in recent times. These acquisitions of many big corporate giants by the company make the company versatile and make its presence in most of the popular business sectors. Not only in recent times, but there were many big acquisitions made by the GE company in its starting years also, which are not listed above.
The GE company at one had acquired many big corporates and companies from time to time, but on the other hand, this company has also made many strategic divestments and collaborations throughout the years. The GE company has made divestments in almost every acquisition they did in the past, including partial and strategic divestments the company made in the acquisitions. The company has strategically followed their acquisition and divestments to make a balance in their business, expand their business, make their presence in most of the business sectors in the market, and generate more and more revenue every year. The strategy followed by the company resulted in the higher success and further growth of the company throughout the years.
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