Microsoft gains on Apple to become second most valuable company

Microsoft has become the world's second most valuable company after Apple, with the firm beating off oil company Exxon to claim the number two spot.

According to reports from Associated Press, the firm's total market value rose to $410 billion on Friday, ahead of Exxon's value of $404 billion, which has been affected by decreasing oil prices.

However, there seems little chance of Microsoft suppassing Apple any time soon. Apple's current valuation is more than $668 billion. This is above the $616 billion that Microsoft was worth when is took the top spot in 1999.

The increase in the company's value has been helped by changes carried out by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, which have seen its share price grow by over 30 per cent in the last year.

"Microsoft has made a strategic change," Daniel Ives, tech analyst at FBR Capital Markets, told Associated Press. He added that in comparison to other players, such as IBM, Oracle and HP, the firm has "done the best job of trying to skate where the puck is going."

Microsoft's share prices has risen nearly 70 per cent over the last 18 months. In April 2013, activist investment firm ValueAct Capital took a $2 billion stake in the company and shortly after previous CEO Steve Ballmer was shown the door.

Nadella has promoted a series of initiatives to get the firm back onto a firm footing, including focusing it on mobile and cloud computing. There have also been a slew of job cuts at the firm, following its acquisition of Nokia's phone business.

Last week, Nadella talked up the UK's tech scene and said concept, capability and culture are all needed to drive innovation in a company.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.