In 1964, the company that would become Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) was basically co-founder Phil Knight driving around the Pacific Northwest selling running shoes imported from Japan out of the back of his car. The "company" made about $8,000 in revenue.
Then came the fitness boom of the late 1970s — and some savvy strategy from the long-time competitive runners who were running the company — and, Swoosh! — Nike took off.
The Nike IPO
The company was making about $300,000 in revenue by then, and near the end of 1980, the company named for the goddess of Victory had about half the U.S. athletic shoe market and held its first public offering at a share price of 18 cents.
As we know now, the company still had plenty of race to run.
"There is no finish line," said the last page of its prospectus announcing that IPO, according to a 1981 Inc. magazine story about the company's remarkable rise that was published right around the time of its offering. That seems to have been true as it's only continued the run since then.
The '80s: They Just Did It
It didn't take long for Nike's market cap to hit $500 million just under two years after it listed, and by the summer of 1983 it topped $700 million briefly before a year-long slide that took it back down below $300 million. But through rest of the 1980s, the company continued to just do it.
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While in the 1970s, Nike was known as a runners' company the 1980s would broaden it considerably. First, the release of the Nike Air Jordan in late 1984 — Jordan's first year in the NBA — would make Nike a huge presence on the basketball court. The partnership with Jordan would help the company regain the lead in the athletic shoe market from Reebok.
The company also got a boost from the aerobics craze of the mid- and late-1980s, and in 1987, it introduced the Nike Air design of air-pocket shoes across several styles.
The market cap steadily increased through that decade, topping $1 billion for the first time in 1988, the year it began using the "Just Do It" ad slogan.
After starting 1990 at about $2 billion, it also rose through most of that decade, topping $5 billion for the first time in 1991 and after a mid-1990s drop climbing to $10 billion for the first time in 1996 and $20 billion the next year. It dropped again in 1998, and crashed to under $8 billion in early 2000, but would climb again in the late 2000s to hit $30 billion.
The 2008-2009 recession hit Nike hard, but it started up again after and wouldn't go back below $20 billion again. It would cross the $50 billion threshold in 2012.
The $100 billion mark came in September of 2015, just under 35 years after its IPO, and 50 years after Phil Knight started hawking shoes out of the back of his car at track meets.
At time of publication, Nike's market cap stood at $115 billion.
- 1964: Phil Knight starts Blue Ribbon Sports, which would later be Nike, selling shoes out of his car at track meets.
- 1971: Track coach Bill Bowerman and Knight develop their first shoe, after initially selling imported Japanese shoes. Also that year, Bowerman, Knight and salesman Jeff Johnson change the name of the company to Nike, and would pay $35 for college student Carolyn Davidson to create the Swoosh logo.
- 1972: Nike signs first athlete endorsement deal. It's with tennis player Ilie Nastase.
- 1980: Nike goes public in a December IPO, selling shares at 18 cents.
- 1884: Nike signs Michael Jordan, and releases the Air Jordan.
- 1991: Nike market cap hits $5 billion.
- 1997: Nike market cap is at $20 billion.
- 2012: Market cap crosses $50 billion.
- 2013: Nike joins the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replacing Alcoa Corp (NYSE: AA).
- 2015: Market cap reaches $100 billion.