Look Away From Amazon: New York City is still the place to be for world class companies

In the wake of Amazon cancelling its plans to build their HQ2 in Long Island City, Queens, it’s time to revisit NYC’s largest companies. Long before Amazon set its sights on New York City, companies have sought out the city as a place to plant the seeds of industry and business.

Here is a list of NYC’s Top 5 companies and the ways they are shaping the city and the country as a whole:

JP Morgan Chase & Co.

JP Morgan Chase & Co. as it is know today is a result of various mergers and acquisitions of large US banks throughout the years, with a history that is as old as New York City itself. The company’s oldest predecessor was Bank of the Manhattan Company, established in 1799 by Aaron Burr.

The company describes itself as “one of the oldest financial institutions in the United States… a leading global financial services firm… a leader in investment banking, financial banking for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management.”

JP Morgan Chase & Co. recently announced its plans to build a new “state of the art” HQ in Midtown East, as part of New York City’s Midtown East Rezoning Plan. The new HQ is expected to create at least 8,000 construction jobs in the building stages and is set to attract more talent and house about five times the employees as its current HQ.

The company also recently announced the launch of its AdvancingCities Initiative, a $500 million investment to “create economic opportunity in cities.” The Initiative is a five-year plan to “drive inclusive growth and create greater economic opportunity in cities”, applying insights from the company’s previous impact models in cities such as Detroit and Washington, DC.


Formerly known as the Bell Atlantic Corportation, Verizon is a multinational telecom conglomerate based in New York City. In 2000, Bell Atlantic rebranded to what we know today as Verizon. Verizon’s product offerings include television, internet and wireless services to name a few. In 2015 and 2017, Verizon acquired AOL and Yahoo! respectively. The two were then merged into what became known as Oath, created to help Verizon expand its content ownership and offerings. Oath has since been recently renamed to Verizon Media.

Verizon is also known for its subsidiary, Verizon Wireless, which was also created in the year 2000. As of 2017, Verizon Wireless is the top US wireless carrier with upwards of 148 million subscribers, claiming the top spot ahead of AT&T and T-Mobile/Sprint. The company also has a philanthropic arm known as The Verizon Foundation, which donates to nonprofits that focus on education, domestic violence prevention and energy. The Foundation also heavily invests in education, with a focus on the STEM field.

In 2018, Verizon pledged more than $200 million towards STEM education in order to reach 5 million students in the next 5 years. The company aims to provide next generation technology, training for educators, curriculum for STEM classes and assist under-resourced students across the U.S. with connectivity. With total investment expected to reach $400 million, Verizon is also aiming to help students in urban and rural communities build their skills in augmented reality, machine learning, coding and 3D printing, to name a few.

Last year, Verizon also announced its inaugural 5G EdTech Challenge in partnership with NYC Media Lab. The “first of its kind”, the challenge calls for non-profits focusing in EdTech “to create powerful, transformative education solutions that leverage 5G connectivity to solve for challenges in under-resourced middle schools throughout the U.S.” The winners of the challenge were announced earlier this year, with 7 out of 10 hailing from New York City. Winning organizations will receive a combined total of $1 million in grant money as well as support from Verizon engineers and mentors to further their initiatives.


Like JP Morgan Chase & Co., MetLife is another true New York City company that was founded 151 years ago. In 1863, a group of New York City businessmen raised $100,000 (the equivalent of $1.93 million in 2018) to found MetLife’s predecessor: National Union Life and Limb Insurance Company.

Today, MetLife is one of the largest global providers of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs. In 2018, MetLife was number 43 on the Fortune 500 list with a reported revenue of $66 million. The MetLife building in New York City is one of the city’s most well known buildings and is situated above the iconic Grand Central Station. MetLife also owns the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ which hosts sporting events and concerts and is the official stadium for the New York Giants/Jets.

In 2013, the MetLife Foundation announced the launch of its 5 year, $200 million plan to provide financial services to low-income communities in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the United States. As of 2017, MetLife has reported a $50 billion rise in social impact investments and the MetLife Foundation reached “more than 6 million low-income individuals.” between the 3rd and 4th year of the plan.

The MetLife Foundation has also partnered with Verb Inc., a talent development platform based in Austin, TX, to create its Inclusion Plus competition. The competition was created to advance financial inclusion in countries where many are still underserved. Its inaugural competition launched in Ireland in 2016, with both companies seeking creative solutions to improve financial well-being for struggling households and small businesses. Since its first year, the competition has also reached China, India, Mexico, Lebanon, Egypt, Bangladesh, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Korea and the United States.


The second banking institution on the list, Citigroup was formed in 1998 following a merger between Citicorp and Travelers Group. While the Citigroup name is not very old, Citicorp was founded in 1812 and was known as City Bank of New York. Like Chase, Citigroup is imbedded in New York City’s history and culture. These days, Citibanks (and Chase banks) are as easy to find as a Duane Reade or Starbucks.

Citigroup is currently ranked 3rd on the list of the United States’ largest banks, behind JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America. Citigroup is also one of the ‘Big Four’ alongside Wells Fargo and the aforementioned Chase and BofA. Citigroup was also ranked 32nd on the Fortune 500 list as of 2018.

Like the other companies on this list, Citigroup is also dedicated to funding projects and initiatives that improve society at large. In January 2019, Citigroup announced its inaugural green bond which will enhance “its commitment to environmental and climate finance.” According to the press release, the bond will fund renewable energy, sustainable transportation, water quality and conservation, energy efficiency and green building projects.

Citigroup is also involved in funding non-profits focused on education, recently expanding their e for Education campaign. Since its launch in 2013, the campaign has raised $22.5+ million and has “supported 250,000 youth globally and contributed to the success of several key initiatives supporting youth education, including the development of more than 400 schools across more than 20 countries worldwide.”


Rounding out the Top 5 is the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, founded in 1849. In its early days, Pfizer achieved success due its production of antiparasitics and antibiotics, becoming a major penicillin manufacturer at the height of World War II. In a list of Top 10 Pharmaceutical/Biotech Companies in the U.S. in terms of revenue, Pfizer came in second, just behind Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer is also 57th in the Fortune 500 list as of 2018, with a revenue of $52.6 billion.

Today Pfizer researches, develops and manufactures medicines and vaccinations in various areas of medical fields such as immunology, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology and neurology. Pfizer’s most famous products include Lipitor, Lyrica, Diflucan, Zithromax, Celebrex/Celebra and Viagra. At the end of 2018, Pfizer announced that it would merge its consumer healthcare division with British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK for short), with a reported $12.7 billion in annual sales combined.

Pfizer also invests in its corporate social responsibility efforts as The Pfizer Foundation, which provides funding and resources to programs that “nurture innovation, strengthen healthcare capacity, address immediate and humanitarian health needs, and enhance the community involvement of Pfizer colleagues.” Pfizer recently partnered with Scholastic in 2017 to launch their If Kids Could Cure contest, which asked children grades K-5 to create potential solutions to medical and societal problems in order to help make the world a better place. The top 2 winners received a $15,000 grant each, with the third winner receiving $5,000 for their individual school’s science programs.

In 2018, Pfizer announced a commitment of $5M in grants to support women and families in low- and middle-income countries. The grants help provide access to family planning services and education for men and women and build on the foundation’s existing program. The additional funding will support nongovernment organizations in five African countries where women face many barriers in accessing family planning services.