5 Companies That Could Die in the Next 100 Years

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Death is simply a part of life, and companies are not exempt. As public attitudes evolve and new technologies develop, old methods of doing business die out and new products come in to satisfy the world’s needs. This inevitably leads to businesses failing, no matter how large or small.

Within the next century, expect to see some of the old dinosaurs of the landscape die off from industries across the spectrum. From retail to energy production, no company will be safe unless it keeps moving, constantly developing new and exciting products or services. With the birth of the Internet, many companies have come under fire from an entirely new level of customer awareness and competitors that they simply can’t stand up to.

So which company will be the next empire to fall? Here are five firms that Millennials might outlive through the next century.

1. Best Buy (NASDAQ:BBY)

Much like its rival Circuit City, Best Buy is destined to go the way of the Dodo. While Best Buy is still a mainstay in most cities, bringing in droves of customers on Black Friday and posting big sales around the holidays, its time is simply going to be up sooner rather than later.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what analysts think will be the factor that tips the company over, as it may be a number of things. Some point to market flops like 3-D television and the expansion of premium retailers like Apple. It may just come down to bad customer service or being outclassed by online competitors like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Consumers even flock to cheaper alternatives for their electronics, like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

The fact may be that Best Buy’s time is simply up, and that it is unable to compete with sprawling brick-and-mortar retail locations when shoppers are opting to find a better deal online. Having already closed many stores, you have to wonder how much longer the company can hold on.

2. Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL)

You may be unfamiliar with the Apollo Group at first glance. It’s the company behind for-profit online learning platforms like the University of Phoenix, Western International University, and others. A lot has been said about the for-profit higher education industry, as it has reaped monstrous revenues but also come under fire for its business practices.

It appears that the for-profit education industry is not looked upon fondly by the government. The Obama administration has come down hard on predatory marketing practices, and the Senate released a report laying out massive criticism in July 2012. The results were dropping stock prices and shaken investors.

While for-profit colleges appear to be a great choice on the surface, they remain unaccredited, and graduates generally come away with higher-than-average debt levels and are less prepared for jobs than students from traditional universities. With expensive degrees that don’t get much on the job market, how long can Apollo Group last as a viable education option?

3.  Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM)

It’s hard to imagine a world without Exxon Mobil, but at some point, that is exactly what the world is going to have to start doing. The oil and gas behemoth has long been ranked in the top five of the world’s largest and most profitable companies. The company is a direct descendant of Standard Oil, which was incorporated in 1870. Being in business for nearly 150 years is nothing to balk at.

So what will be Exxon Mobil’s undoing? A variety of things. First and foremost, a change to renewable, more sustainable fuel sources in reaction to climate change. As attitudes evolve and stricter environmental regulations are enacted, developing new energy sources will become a bigger issue. Solar energy is already gaining heavy traction in the United States, and technologies like tidal power are being developed, as well.

As these energy sources become more commonplace, oil and gas will be left along the wayside. Unless Big Oil can adapt or make major breakthroughs in fossil fuel technology, its future may be in doubt.

4. Philip Morris (NYSE:PM)

The seemingly iron-clad Philip Morris, once thought to be unsinkable, will one day need to face the music. Smoking rates have been dropping for decades, and many concerted efforts to stymie cigarette use have been successful over the years. Not only does the company’s product lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths annually, but Big Tobacco’s attempts to bury science proving the dangers of cigarette smoke have not gone unforgotten.

With the advent of legal marijuana, Philip Morris faces perhaps its biggest challenge yet. The prospect of many smokers jumping ship to marijuana over tobacco is something that has to be in the back of executives’ minds, and how they choose to deal with it will likely decide the company’s fate in the coming decades. Since it’s been speculated that Big Tobacco won’t be able to control the blossoming industry, cigarette companies will need to evolve to stay alive.

The real question is: Can Philip Morris keep its products moving off shelves and face off against newly created markets?

5. Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR)

Alpha Natural Resources may not be a name most people are familiar with, but the company plays a major role in the lives of millions as one of the nation’s largest producers of coal. Coal fuels electricity-generating power plants all across the country, but its use has become a major target of environmentalists and brought up as a major factor toward global climate change. Much like Exxon Mobil, it’s most likely the declining popularity of fossil fuels in favor of renewable resources that will lead to Alpha Natural Resources’ demise.

The process of producing coal from mining operations is dirty and dangerous, not to mention incredibly destructive to the environment. Consumers are far more wary and concerned about where their energy comes from than they were a decade ago, and energy producers will most likely need to prepare for increased regulations and investors turning their attention to green technologies.

Like oil and gas companies, coal producers are on the clock. Unless businesses like Alpha Natural Resources can find a way to revamp their entire model, they will most likely not survive the next century. But finding a way to make the mining process safer and cleaner and while turning the tide against growing anti-fossil fuel sentiment is probably an insurmountable task.

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