At Devmountain, we like to answer questions, and we know it could be argued that this question is a slippery slope, but we’re going to answer it anyway, and we’re going to start with a confusing but appropriate analogy. Much like a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square, non-tech companies are tech companies but tech companies are not non-tech companies.
(And, today’s tongue-twister award goes to…)
That is to say, it depends on what your definition of technology is and how integral technology has to be to a company before you’ll allow tech to be used to describe the company.
Basically, it’s exactly what you already thought. To be a tech company, a company has to use or sell technology (duh). But, Uncle Larry’s Couch Emporium being called a tech company because it utilizes a credit card system doesn’t really make much sense.
So, even though all companies could be called tech companies if your definition is loose enough, what really makes a tech company a tech company?
(Hint: having a piece of fruit as a logo is not the answer.)
Technology Allows the Company to Exist at All
An easy indicator of whether a company is a tech company is whether or not the company would continue to exist in any substantial way if part of or all of its technology were to be removed.
After all, what would Google be without the internet? Could Hulu exist without streaming?
Safe answers could be a couch emporium and no, not really.
Technology Is Either Sold or Used to Sell Product
A more ambiguous way to tell whether or not a company is a tech company is to look at how or what the company is selling. If the company couldn’t sell its product without tech, well…
Mailchimp would most likely have no product to sell and Amazon would have no way to sell products on such a massive scale.
But hey, maybe Sears and Blockbuster could make a comeback.
Technology Allows for Company Growth
Another possible way to tell whether a company is a tech company is to consider company growth. Does technology play an important part in how quick or large growth has been?
More than likely, social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit would not be able to grow without copious amounts of technology.