OpenFest 2006 - Share the Freedom

September 09, 2004

The World's Oldest Family Companies

Georgi Penkov pointed me to a fascinating list of The World’s Oldest Family Companies. The idea of compiling such a list, and the implications of the fact that family companies really *can* outlive governments, countries, and anything else you care to name in history, is somehow warming - looks like there still might be some hope for the human race, after all, if there are people who can keep on brewing wine, making pottery, building houses, or running inns and hotels, day in, day out, father-to-son (or mother, or daughter, as the case may be), over the centuries...

Still, I wonder if the list isn't slightly skewed by the choice of sources. The two organizations "most helpful" in providing the sources are an English one and a French one. Strangely enough, the following simple script that counts the number of businesses per country from the page's source:

#!/usr/bin/perl -wT
use strict;
my %cnt = ();
$_ = do { local $/; <> };
while (m{^<P><B>.*\n<BR>.*/ *([^\/\n]*)$}mg) { $cnt{$1}++; }
printf("%2d %s\n", $cnt{$_}, $_) for sort { $cnt{$a} <=> $cnt{$b} } sort keys(%cnt);

...produces the following ranking:

 1 Australia
 1 Belgium
 1 Chile
 1 Ireland
 1 Mexico
 1 Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
 1 Norway
 1 South Africa
 1 Sweden
 2 Canada
 2 Portugal
 2 Switzerland
 3 Netherlands
 3 Spain
 6 Japan
12 Germany
16 Italy
18 France
24 United Kingdom

So, um, I wonder what would happen if the sources were not, as mentioned above, mainly an English and a French organization. Still, even with these sources, the list is fascinating.

Posted by roam at September 9, 2004 02:35 PM