We talk about the big tech companies all the time, but the sheer scale of them can be hard to comprehend. Google currently runs the most popular search engine, the most popular web browser, and the most popular mobile operating system (on a worldwide basis, at least). Amazon hired 427,000 people this year, bringing its global workforce to well over 1 million. In its most recent quarter, Facebook brought in an average of $230 million in revenue each day. Entire books have been written about how each of these companies clamored to the top, and there’s a lot that’s unique to each one — but there’s also something bigger going on. How did these companies get so powerful so fast?