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
In the early 1980s, Apple was one of the top computing firms in the world. Its IPO holds the record for creating the most millionaires at one time (300!). Similarly, House Stark was the Warden of the North, and one of the great houses of Westeros.
Then, due to the scheming of enemies from within and without, the head was chopped off! In Apple’s case, this was a metaphorical head removal in the firing of Steve Jobs. For Ned Stark, it was a much more literal head removal.
Both Apple and Stark floundered for years, losing control of their respective markets. Mike Sculley, who took control of Apple, wasn’t quite as evil as the Boltons and their flaying, but neither were very well liked.
Apple turned their fortunes around by bringing back Steve Jobs. He brought the internet to your home computer, music to your pocket, and rounded corners to your phone’s home screen.
It’s unlikely Ned Stark will return to Winterfell anytime soon, but a Stark has finally reclaimed their proper place as the ruler of Winterfell. Perhaps they’ll bring the Weirwood.net to the common folk.
House Frey – Comcast/Xfinity
One is among the most hated organizations in the world. The other is a family in Westeros.
Both groups control key connections—either virtual connections like internet connectivity or literal connection between either side of a massive river. And they charge high prices for that connection. I’m not saying Comcast wants you to marry their ugliest daughter, but… I’m not saying they’d be against it, either.
In any case, it’s a bad idea to abuse your monopoly power. The Freys murdered scores of people at the Red Wedding, and while that led to a short period of prosperity, it ultimately ended with them drinking their own medecine. Comcast should learn from the Freys mistake before their customers turn on them.
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
In the late 1990s, Enron was named “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six years in a row by Fortune magazine. Also about 15 years ago in Westerosi time, the Lannisters were one of the Great Houses, and Wardens of the West. They were so successful that “rich as a Lannister” was a common phrase.
But the success of both organizations was built on a lie. 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.
Likewise, Enron’s huge stock value was based on lies and deception. Many of the company’s recorded assets and profits were inflated or even wholly fraudulent
But these kinds of schemes can’t last forever. Eventually, Enron’s shady accounting practices were discovered, and it was forced to declare bankruptcy. On Game of Thrones, the Lannisters’ gold mines have been tapped out; they haven’t been discovered yet, but with their numbers dwindling and an insider defecting to Mereen, it’s safe to assume their fortunes won’t be much better than Enron’s.
House Tyrell – Google
It’s hard to dislike House Tyrell. For the most part, they’re good guys. They stay out of other houses’ business, take care of their vassals, and are fabulously wealthy.
While I wouldn’t call their employees “vassals,” Google has been called the best company to work for 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? Well, Google doesn’t exactly 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…
House Targaryen – General Motors
In the middle of the 20th Century, General Motors was one of the largest and most successful companies in history. Over a hundred years ago, they swept in from a foreign land (Canada) and gathered numerous auto manufacturers into its empire, including Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Buick. Over the years, like all major auto manufactures, they’ve had a few run ins with creating fair labor standards.
What sets General Motors apart from some of the other companies is its sleek, powerful means of conveyance.
And they seemed unstoppable until just a few years ago, when mismanagement lead to their downfall. They almost completely disappeared, but are currently experiencing a resurgence thanks to Mary T. Barra, the new, powerful woman in charge.
Gee, who does that remind me of?
House Arryn – SolarCity
To see how similar these two are, just look at the men at the top: Petyr Baelish and Elon Musk. Both are mercurial and ambitious, and have long arms that stretch into many different profitable enterprises.
Both men have close familial ties to the previous heads. Musk is a cousin to SolarCity founders Peter and Lyndon Rive; Baelish was fostered at Riverrun with Lysa Tully, the future Lady Arryn. In 2016, Musk’s Tesla Motors officially acquired SolarCity for $2.6 billion. The extremely wealthy Master of Coin, on the other hand, fulfilled his final takeover of the house by pushing Lysa out the moon door.
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.
The Night’s Watch – 4Chan
A bunch of lonely, unshaven men with a bizarre, insulated culture (and even stranger customs) stand at the fringes of civilization keeping watch. Everything they worry about seems to be a crazy conspiracy that’s hard to follow, much less believe. Heck, most of them don’t believe what they’re saying half the time. You may not trust them; you may not like them very much; but they take their job very, very seriously.
But the most horrifying thought is… what if they’re right?
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.