Behind the headlines, these firms help form the foundation of the IT industry -- and the modern world wouldn't work without them
You're probably at least vaguely aware that, for most electronic equipment, the name brand on the device is not necessarily the name of the company that owns the factory where it was put together -- and in fact, there are almost certainly multiple factories, owned by multiple companies, responsible for your latest gizmo. Singapore-based Flextronics is a good example. You don't own anything with a Flextronics label on it, but the company made $24.1 billion in revenue off of any number of gadgets that probably lurk in your house. It had a hand in building inkjets for HP; phones for Motorola, RIM, and Sony Ericsson; power supplies for Dell PCs; and hard drives for Western Digital. Flextronics made it possible for software giant Microsoft to put out hardware like the Zune and the Xbox, and the company was intimately enough involved in the iPad manufacturing supply chain that one of its directors was able to sell insider secrets about Apple's plans to hedge funds. Flextronics probably didn't make your toilet or your breakfast cereal, but you can't be too sure.
Pictured: Flextronics execs pose with Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Mexico is one of 30 countries where Flextronics maintains a manufacturing presence.