A company's revenue is not unlike a movie's box office gross — it has nothing to do with profitability. While revenue is the figure that usually grabs the headlines, what a company actually earns is what remains after the costs of goods, expenses, and taxes are subtracted. Profitability is, in essence, a measure of how efficiently a company operates.
Using data culled from their most recent 10-K reports, we looked at how efficiently some of the biggest media, entertainment and technologies companies are run as a measure of profitability per employee. To get the figure, we simply divided the fiscal year 2013 net income a company reported in its 10-K (companies end their financial years at different times, some in June, some in September, some in December) by the number of employees it reported.
The results were surprising even to us. We already knew that Apple made a lot of money, but nearly half a million dollars for each of its 80,300 employees is still awe-inspiring. The fact that Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox collects more for each of its employees than Google, Facebook, and Microsoft is a testament to the money-making power of cable networks and the fact that Murdoch runs a very lean organization. Similarly, Comcast and Disney are two of the biggest revenue-generating companies in media, but because their workforces are so large (136,000 for Comcast; 175,000 for Disney) they rank at the bottom of the list.
Here's a breakdown of the results from most money made per employee to least money made per employee:
Apple: $460,772 per employee.
Apple spent much of 2013 fending off an attack from activist investor Carl Icahn over stock buybacks and questions from investors about its new product pipeline. Still, the company reported net income of $37 billion on revenue of $171 billion at the end of its 2013 fiscal year in September. The company said that as of Sept. 28, 2013 it had 80,300 "full-time equivalent" employees.
21st Century Fox: $277,343.75
Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, which houses the media mogul's film and television assets, reported net income of $7.1 billion on revenue of $27.7 billion for its 2013 fiscal year ended June 30, 2013. The recently independent company — it was split off from Murdoch's newspaper holdings — reported having 25,600 employees as of June 30, 2013.
Google: $270,123.13 per employee.
Search giant Google runs a very efficient and profitable business, earning $12.9 billion last year on revenue of $59.8 billion. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the company had 47,756 employees.
Facebook: $236,705 per employee.
Facebook came of age financially in 2013, turning a non-existent mobile business pre-IPO into a massive growth engine. The social network in 2013 earned $1.5 billion on revenue of $7.9 billion. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the social network reported 6,337 employees.
Viacom: $230,000 per employee.
Viacom, the home to cable networks MTV, Comedy Central, and Spike TV, among others, reported earnings of $2.3 billion on revenue of $13.8 billion for its 2013 fiscal year, which ended in September. The company said it had 10,000 employees as of Sept. 30.
Microsoft: $221,212.12 per employee.
Microsoft, currently in the midst of transitioning to a new CEO, reported net income of $21.9 billion on revenue of $77.8 billion in its 2013 fiscal year, which ended in June. The company said that as of June 30, 2013, it had 99,000 employees.
Discovery Communications: $188,596.50 per employee.
Discovery Communications had another one of its reliably solid financial years. The company behind cable networks Discovery, TLC, and Animal Planet, among others, recorded net income of $1.075 billion on revenue of $5.54 billion. As of Dec. 31, 2013, Discovery had 5,700 employees.
Time Warner: $108,823.53 per employee.
Time Warner's corporate overhaul under Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes is nearly complete, with the last remaining piece, spinning off magazine unit Time Inc., scheduled for the first half of this year. Under Bewkes, the slimmed down media conglomerate, which is now basically a suite of cable networks including CNN, TBS, TNT, and HBO, as well as the Warner Bros film studio, earned $3.7 billion last year on revenue of $29.8 billion. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the company had 34,000 employees.
CBS: $96,460 per employee.
If old media is dead, no one informed CBS, which turned in one of its best financial performances ever last year. The company, run by CEO Les Moonves and controlled by billionaire chairman Sumner Redstone (who also owns Viacom), reported net income of $1.88 billion on revenue of $15.3 billion in 2013. It reported a workforce of 19,490 employees as of Dec. 31, 2013.
Netflix: $55,588.53 per employee.
Netflix had a pretty flawless 2013, surpassing HBO in domestic subscribers with 33 million, growing its stock price by nearly 300%, and collecting awards and acclaim for original series House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. The streaming video service also turned in one of its strongest fiscal years ever, earning $112.4 million on revenue of $4.4 billion. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the company had 2,022 employees.
Comcast: $50,000 per employee.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, reported net income of $6.8 billion on revenue of $64.65 billion in 2013. Its already massive workforce — numbering 136,000 employees as of Dec. 31 — will swell even further if its blockbuster $45 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable gets regulatory approval.
Disney: $34,857.14 per employee.
Disney earned $6.1 billion on revenue of $45 billion for the 2013 fiscal year ended Sept. 30. The company, which is home to everything from theme parks to ESPN, has one of the largest workforces in the media and technology sector, with 175,000 employees.
Dreamworks Animation: $25,045.45 per employee.
Dreamworks Animation, the movie studio run by mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, reported net income of $55.1 million on revenue of $707 million. The studio behind such movies as Turbo and The Croods reported having 2,200 employees as of Dec. 31, 2013.
News Corp: $21,083.33
News Corp., the newspaper and book publishing arm of media baron Rupert Murdoch's empire, earned $506 million for the fiscal year 2013 on revenue of $8.9 billion. The company, which owns The Wall Street Journal and New York Post, among other assets across the globe, had 24,000 employees as of June 30, 2013, the end of its fiscal 2013 year.
The New York Times Company: $18,447.15
The struggles of the newspaper industry in the digital age are underscored every three months when The New York Times Company reports quarterly earnings. The company has spent much of the last two years massaging its portfolio to focus resources around its flagship paper and brand. For the year, the company reported net income of $65.1 million on revenue of $1.58 billion. As of Dec. 29, 2013, the company had 3,529 employees.
AOL: $18,117.65 per employee.
The last few months for AOL have been characterized by massive public relations gaffes by CEO Tim Armstrong, who first fired an employee on a conference call, and months later, used the financial costs incurred for having to care for AOL employees' "distressed babies" as a way to explain why retirement benefits would be curtailed to make up for expanded medical costs. That aside, AOL earned $92.4 million last year on revenue of $2.32 billion. At the end of the year, AOL had 5,100 employees. But, as if to underscore how painful the year was for AOL, it said that as of Feb. 18 its headcount had been reduced to 4,600.
Gannett Co.: $12,310.13 per employee.
The most headline-grabbing thing the largest newspaper company in the nation, Gannett Co., did in 2013 was acquire a whole bunch of television stations from Belo Corp for $1.5 billion. Going forward, that will make the company best known as the publisher of USA Today less reliant on its newspaper assets. Gannett last year earned $389 million on revenue of $5.16 billion. The company reported having 31,600 employees as of Dec. 31.
LinkedIn: $5,312.20 per employee.
Business social networking site LinkedIn earned $26.8 million last year on $1.5 billion in revenue. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the company employed 5,045 people. But don't let the numbers fool you, as a business LinkedIn is only now getting going. The site, which features 277 million members, has been experimenting with different types of editorial content, such as its "Influencers" program with prominent executives and business leaders. It makes money three ways: through advertising, premium subscriptions, and services for recruiters. Taken together, LinkedIn is likely to earn more money and operate more efficiently as its business matures.