The General Electric Company, or GE, is a multinational technology and services company. Going into 2005, it was the world's largest corporation in terms of market cap (). However, on the back of high oil prices, Exxon-Mobil overtook it in late 2004 and early 2005. As of March 28, 2005, GE had a market cap of approximately US$379B, leading Exxon-Mobil by US$2B. It should not be confused with The General Electric Company plc, which was renamed Marconi plc in 1999.
In the 1960s, peculiarities in U.S. tax laws and accounting practices made it fashionable to assemble conglomerates. GE, which was a conglomerate long before the term was coined, is one of the very few corporations to achieve great success with this kind of organization.
In 1876, Thomas Alva Edison opened a new laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Out of the laboratory was to come perhaps the most famous invention of all—a successful development of the incandescent electric lamp. By 1890, Edison had organized his various businesses into the Edison General Electric Company.
In 1879, Elihu Thomson and E. J. Houston formed the rival Thomson-Houston Company. It merged with various companies and was later led by Charles A. Coffin, a former shoe manufacturer from Lynn, Massachusetts.
Mergers with competitors and the patent rights owned by each company put them into dominant positions in the electrical industry. As businesses expanded, it became increasingly difficult for either company to produce complete electrical installations relying solely on their own technology. In 1892, these two major companies combined to form the General Electric Company, with its headquarters in Schenectady, New York.
In 1896, General Electric was one of the original 12 companies listed on the newly-formed Dow Jones Industrial Average. GE is the only one that remains today.
RCA was founded by GE and AT&T in 1919 to further international radio.
General Electric was one of the eight major computer companies (with IBM - the largest, Burroughs, Scientific Data Systems, Control Data Corporation, Honeywell, RCA and UNIVAC) through most of the 1960s. In 1970 it sold its computer division to Honeywell.
In 1986, GE re-acquired RCA, primarily for the NBC television network. The rest was sold to various companies, including Bertelsmann AG and Thomson.
In 2004, GE bought from Vivendi Universal the television and movie assets and became the third largest media conglomerate in the world. The new company was named NBC Universal. Also in 2004, GE completed the spinoff of most of its life and mortgage insurance assets into an independent company, Genworth Financial, based in Richmond, Virginia. In that same year, GE also acquired the credit card unit of the department store Dillard's for $1.25 billion.
In 2005, General Electric bought the financial assets of the Canadian airplane manufacturer Bombardier for $1.4 billion 
GE is an enormous multinational industrial company headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut. GE describes itself as composed of a number of primary business units or "businesses." Each "business" is itself a vast enterprise, any of which would, if separate, rank in the Fortune 500 by itself. The list of GE businesses varies over time as the result of acquisitions and reorganizations .
- Main article: List of assets owned by General Electric
- Access Distribution
- GE Advanced Materials
GE Capital IT Solutions
- GE Capital Rail Services
- GE Commercial Finance
- GE Consumer & Industrial
- GE Consumer Finance
- GE Energy
- GE Engine Services, Inc.
- GE Equipment Services
GE Fanuc Automation North America, Inc.
- GE Financial Assurance Holdings, Inc.
- GE Franchise Finance Corporation
- GE Global Research
- GE Infrastructure
- GE Insurance
- GE Money
- GE Osmonics
- GE SeaCo SRL
- GE Security
- GE Small Business Finance Corporation
- GE Supply
- General Electric Mortgage Insurance Corporation
- Global Nuclear Fuel - Japan Co., Ltd.
- HPSC, Inc.
- Instrumentarium Corporation
- MRA Systems, Inc.
NBC Universal, Inc.
- Transport International Pool Inc.
- WMC Mortgage Corp.
Through these businesses, GE participates in a wide variety of markets including the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, lighting, industrial automation, medical imaging equipment, motors, railway locomotives, aircraft jet engines, aviation services and materials such as plastics, silicones and abrasives. It was co-founder and is 80% owner (with Vivendi Universal) of NBC Universal, the National Broadcasting Company. As GE Commercial Finance, GE Consumer Finance, GE Equipment Services, and GE Insurance it offers a range of financial services as well. It has a presence in over 100 countries.
Interestingly, over half of GE's revenue is derived from financial services, ostensibly making it a financial company with a manufacturing arm. It is also one of the largest lenders in countries other than the United States, such as Japan. Even though the first wave of conglomerates (such as ITT, Ling-Temco-Vought, Tenneco , etc) fell by the wayside by the mid-1980s, in the late 1990s, another wave (consisting of Westinghouse, Tyco, and others) tried and failed to emulate GE's success.
The CEO from 1981-2001 was Jack Welch, who many regard as one of the premier business managers of his era. Nicknamed "Neutron Jack", he presided over a 28-fold increase in earnings (on a 5-fold increase in revenue) with his policy (referred to by detractors as "rank and yank") of sacking the worst performing 10% of his staff every year. In running GE's many diverse businesses he maintained a policy of only keeping those businesses which were #1 or #2 within their respective industries. In 1987, GE was the United States' second largest nuclear power company and third largest producer of nuclear weapons systems .
Job: name, age, pay
- CEO: Jeff Immelt, 48, $7.66M
- CFO: Keith S. Sherin , 45
- CIO: Gary M. Reiner
- Vice Chairman: Dennis Dammerman , 58, $11.49M
- Vice Chairman: Robert Charles Wright, 60, $11.05M
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SEC filings including 10-k
- Revenue (): $152.4 billion
- Employees (2004): 315,000