In each and every case, these companies delivered a product or service in exchange for the customer's cash. This is the key distinguishing factor between companies like IBM, Microsoft, Apple, who deserve to belong on that list, and companies like your hyped SV unicorn that has no business model besides "eventually we'll introduce ads".
Brick and mortar products are less likely to have this property than social-network-of-the-month, so the process can be very different.
As a big positive, we have seen large strides taken in SV on the former part the past 10 years. Creating value for your users / customers is standard advice pounded into entrepreneurs by YC and everyone else these days. This is great.
The problem is the latter half, capturing some of that value. Some of it is structural; many industries do not lend themselves well to wild profitability. Other is cultural; startups like building White House replicas in the lobby of their expensive new building.
We have seen many companies that create a great amount of value, and can even retain some of it, but unfortunately not enough to meet investors' expectations. Twitter, for example. Medium, for another more recent case, would be a great small business, but can never live up to a $100M+ investment. They definitely create value, it's just questionable exactly how much, and it will be very difficult for them to retain a worthwhile portion of it.
Take this guy for example, the pillow king (as bottom line as Oreos):
Or Chobani, which most know about now:
Or Manoj Bhargava of 5 hour energy fame:
Or Monster Beverage (reinvented in the early 1990s), which has become, well, a monster ($25 billion market cap):
Or Under Armour, founded in 1996, on its way to being a giant potentially.
Or Lululemon, founded in 1998.
Netflix and Tesla are also both bottom line companies.
Tory Burch is an example, as is Sara Blakely & Spanx. Fashion has a lot of significant bottom line stories from the last 20 years. Hard to tell which might grow into the next big fashion conglomerate, or just be acquired (as with Burch apparently).
There are a lot of these types of stories roaming about, and far more of them that have yet to break the media surface but will in the next five or ten years. You often don't hear about them until they get big enough to be picked up by the likes of Bloomberg, Forbes, Fortune, et al. It's also next to impossible to tell which one of them will go on to become a big conglomerate like Mondelez; we'll find out in 30 or 40 years.
Granted, some of these are more than 20 years old, but the movement grew the most through the early 90's.
So when we say that "services" industries are growing faster than industrial manufacturing, this is exactly what we're talking about. It's not just dog walking, it's pinterest.
The citation of AT&T and JetBlue by OP seems to disagree with this, so I don't necessarily agree with this reinterpretation of the OP's analysis.
As an example, one could argue that companies involved in self-driving R&D could very easily meet this definition as a provider to the bottom-line of society as transportation to/from a location is a service not terribly dissimilar to providing data and communication. By that token, Tesla and soon Uber could soon fit this bill as service organizations (disregarding Tesla's manufacture of vehicles).
Other than that--or by explicitly considering only manufactured goods for example--you're effectively making value judgements about what products and services contribute to society and which don't. You could equally as well argue (though I wouldn't) that the 50th new rebranded and repackaged laundry powder doesn't contribute either.
I distinguish services vs infrastructure based on if they are fundamental needs, not how they are provided. So water treatment is technically a service, but it's a fundamental piece of life so it's infrastructure.
Personally, I think the distinction is in how it is provided. The copper/fibre line to your home is what AT&T has to bring to the table. JetBlue brings their fancy flying machine. The water treatment plant has their water treatment system. While people are certainly involved in the process, the defining feature of these businesses are related to the machines/technology that they possess.
On the other hand, McDonalds certainly has a kitchen, but so does everyone else. They are literally found in almost every home. What McDonalds, and restaurants in general, bring to the table is a person willing to do the cooking and other related activities for you. Because the defining feature is related to human labour (for now, at least), these are services.
(Same as the pattern with farming; there's a difference between "the US doesn't produce many crops" and "the US doesn't have a big fraction of workers in farming": the former is false and the latter true.)
>> Over the past 20 years, have we seen many bottom line companies founded?
What's great about the list is that JetBlue was founded within the last 20 years. I would also consider Google (1998) and Facebook (2004) to be candidates for "bottom line companies" although I'm not 100% sure I know what you mean by that.
But yeah, it's hard to build a cash-spewing colossus with global reach in 20 years.
Most of them were blocked from actually becoming horizontal or vertical monopolies by governments in order to protect consumers and foster innovation.
But that didn't stop them from acquiring tangential companies and becoming multinational conglomerates - every country in the world needs Kraft's consumer goods and GE's industrial equipment.
Software startups follow an entirely different business model - extremely low costs to entry, entering new markets with high rates of failure. Also, in many successful acquisition exits the startups are acquired and the brand disappears.
Not really - a natural monopoly occurs where early entrants have such a huge advantage in providing goods or services that competitors are not able to sprout up. It may be due to high capital costs, regulation, distribution channels, or even controlling material supply. Companies like Jet Blue are clearly not natural monopolies - in fact as a relatively young airline they were able to establish that the Airline industry is not subject to natural monopolies (although the capital costs to start up are very high).
Kraft on the other hand has a ton of competition, with more new food producers popping up every year. The capital costs to start are not that high, and distribution channels are open enough that lots of smaller companies can get exposure to customers.