The great houses of Westeros, from HBO’s Game of Thrones (or the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, if you’re the reading type) operate much like corporations. There are executives (lords), subsidiaries (vassal houses), and hostile takeovers (wars).
And, like the houses of Westeros, not all corporations are created equal. We wondered which companies lined up with which houses…
House Stark – Apple Computer
Take House Stark; Warden of the North, one of the greatest houses of Westeros. Take Apple; one of the top computing firms in the world during the 1980s. Its IPO holds the record for creating the most millionaires at one time (300!).
Then, due to a little scheming of enemies from within and without, you could say the head was chopped off! Metaphorically speaking, in Apple’s case, the firing of Steve Jobs. More literally speaking, for Ned Stark, we saw a rather more paltry end with his execution with the shock cutting of of his head in season one.
Both Apple and Stark had a bit of a slow few years, losing control of their respective markets. We can’t place Mike Sculley, who took control of Apple, quite in the same evil realms as the Boltons and their flaying, but neither were very well liked.
Apple brought back Steve Jobs and turned their fortunes around. We have a lot to thank him for – bringing the internet to your home computer, music to your pocket, and rounded corners to your phone’s home screen.
Ned Stark’s return to Winterfell is not exactly on the cards, but recent plot developments imply that a Stark will retake their proper place as the ruler of Winterfell.
House Baratheon – AOL
Remember AOL? It was only around two decades before it became so large and powerful that it could buy Time-Warner, one of the largest and oldest media companies in the world.
House Baratheon, similarly, is the newest of the Great Houses of Westeros. More recently, it rose up to conquer the entirety of the Seven Kingdoms, and joined with another great house through marriage, the Lannisters.
Both of these mergers seemed like a great idea at the time, but things turned south really quickly. Things were so bad, you might even be surprised to learn they both, technically, still exist.
After Robert’s death, Stannis continued fighting for power, even aligning himself with a powerful Red Woman in attempts to grab back the throne. But ultimately it was a losing battle, and currently the last remaining Baratheon is an illegitimate bastard.
Here in the real world, AOL aligned itself with another powerful, red figure: Verizon. But that, likewise, didn’t save the company. AOL was recently swallowed up and combined with outside blood (Yahoo!) to become Oath. We’ll have to see what the future holds for both of these bastards.
House Targaryen – Bumble
Blessed with a name that could almost be a GoT character, Whitney Wolfe was a co-founder of modern dating game-changer, Tinder. This should have been a huge success story, but Whitney wound up leaving the company due to a hostile work environment.
Daenerys Targaryen was the youngest daughter of the king. Despite not being next in line for the throne, she was still a part of the royal family, and therefore one of the most powerful women in Westeros. In a huge twist of face, her father was usurped, and the new king had an agenda to have her and her siblings killed. Now, how’s that for a hostile environment?
But neither of these women despaired of their ill fortune. Instead, they picked themselves up, found new partners, and began building a new dynasty.
Bumble bees may not be quite as cool as flame-spitting dragons, but the new dating app Wolfe has created a feminist empire in the real world.
House Greyjoy – Reddit
We do not sow… we aggregate.
The Greyjoys, and all of their vassals on the Iron Islands, proudly state that they would rather pillage and steal the work of others than grow their own crops.
In the same way, Reddit doesn’t host original content (what they call “OC”). Instead, almost everything is a link to an outside website—a news site or, more likely, Imgur.
Both Redditors and the Iron Born are an unruly bunch of people. Much like every captain is a king on his own ship, Reddit is divided among many “subreddits,” overseen by moderators. Their interests and temperaments vary widely from sub to sub, but you can be sure they fiercely protect their little corner of the larger Reddit nation.
And, to be fair, just as some Iron Islanders must, logically, sow, many Redditors create original content. But a lot of it is borderline misogynistic, also like the Iron Islanders.
When Reddit held a Kingsmoot and hired a new CEO—who happened to be a woman—half of the community lost its collective mind. There were some valid reasons to dislike Ellen Pao, just like Yara Greyjoy may not have been the best Queen of the Iron Islands, but man, it’s difficult to separate the legitimate criticism from the boys’ club rhetoric.
House Lannister – Enron
Cast your mind back to the 1990s. Enron was named “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six years in a row by Fortune magazine. In Westerosi time, also around 15 years ago, the Lannisters were reigning supreme as Wardens of the West. The phrase “rich as a Lannister” was a common one.
Now sadly, this was all just smoke and mirrors. Ever wonder why the Lannisters live in a place called “Casterly Rock?” Their ancient forebear, Lann the Clever, tricked the Casterly family out of their own namesake castle.
Enron’s stock value was famously based on lies and deceit. The company’s recorded assets and profits were inflated, some were even wholly fraudulent.
This is shady ground, and of course not a sustainable way to live. Eventually, Enron were called out on their below board accounting practices and it was forced to declare bankruptcy. Back in Westeros, the Lannisters’ gold mines have been tapped out; they haven’t been discovered yet, but it’s safe to assume their fortunes might be going in the direction of Enron’s.
House Tyrell – Google
Tyrell; arguably the most likeable house! They largely stay out of other houses’ business, look after their vassals and they’re not short of a bob or two.
Even though it’s a stretch to call their employees “vassals,” Google always tops the list for the best company to work for – it’s held this title for seven of the last ten years and it’s certainly one of the most valuable companies on the Fortune 500.
As for staying out of others’ business, Google doesn’t have the best track record. “Don’t be evil” would be great house words for the Warden of Search, but it’s about as believable as Littlefinger’s schemes.
Although, Varys would kill for Google’s spy network…
Which other corporations could be Game of Thrones houses? Let us know in the comments?
This article was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect changes in the show and add more houses.