The recent bankruptcy of Eastman Kodak reminds investors they don't make companies like they used to.
Founded in 1892, Kodak shows that very few of these 19th century giants exist anymore.
Companies, like washing machines, just don't have the staying power they used to. Even the largest companies these days are unlikely to outlast a 40-year investing career.
The evidence for this increased corporate mortality rate is both substantial and startling.
According to John Hagel III, Co-Chairman of Deloitte LLP Center for the Edge and author of "The Power of Pull" (Basic Books, 2010), the lifespan of such companies is now about 15 years. That's a stunning change from 1937 when the average life expectancy of the companies in the Standard and Poor's 500 Index was 75 years.
A similar 1983 study of the 1970 Fortune 500 found the life expectancy of its companies to be around 40 years, with a third of them vanishing in the intervening 13 years.
Thus the progression from 75-year corporate lifespans to 40 and now to 15 since 1937 has been clear and more or less smooth.