#101 | 15 things you might not know about Amazon

  1. Amazon.com was almost called “Cadabra” as in “Abracadabra”. That idea was struck down because CEO Jeff Bezos’ lawyer misheard the word as “cadaver.”  Another name Jeff Bezos had in his bag was “Relentless.” Although “Relentless” did not make the cut to be the name of the company, Jeff Bezos liked the name enough to buy the domain name and now the website; relentless.com redirects to the Amazon.com homepage. Bezos chose Amazon.com for two reasons: one, to suggest scale (Amazon.com launched with the tagline “Earth’s biggest book store”) and two, back then website listings were often alphabetical.
  2. One of Amazon’s earliest investors were Bezos’ own parents. Bezos’ folks took out $300,000 from their retirement savings to invest in their ambitious son’s shiny new internet startup. Today the retail giant has revenues exceeding $386 billion dollars. 
  3. In Amazon’s early stages as a public company, it launched an auction site to compete with e-Bay. The day Amazon launched the auction site in 1999, its shares soared almost 8%.
  4. In Amazon’s early days, a literal bell was rung every single time a new purchase was made through the site. As the company rapidly grew and new sales spiked, though, management had to stop this ritual as the bell was being rung frequently.
  5. Before powerhouse search engine company Google had its “Street View” on its map application, Amazon launched a search engine in 2004, A9.com, which started a project called Block View. Block view was a visual yellow pages that allowed its users to see the street view of addresses and directions to their destinations.
  6. Amazon’s Kindle, the company’s e-reader that permits users to electronically read books, newspapers, and other digital media, was originally going to be named “Fiona.” The name derived from a character in science fiction writer Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age. This character has a machine, much like the Kindle, that contains electronic version of all libraries and TV shows.
  7. Amazon’s “One Click” button that allows consumers to purchase items with only a single click of the mouse is actually a patented and trademarked operation. Apple, who also offers “One Click” purchases to its customers, is doing so through a licensing agreement with Amazon. This means that even while customers are using Apple products, Amazon is getting paid.
  8. AmazonSmile allows its users to support charities of their choice when they shop at smile.amazon.com. The AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of products eligible for AmazonSmile purchases.
  9. Amazon Go, a high-tech supermarket, allows shoppers to buy groceries without ever having to wait on line for a cashier. Amazon Go stores are equipped with hundreds of cameras that utilize a similar type of technology that self-driving cars use. This technology keeps a virtual shopping cart which allows customers just to walk out when they are done shopping. A bill is automatically sent to their Amazon account.
  10. Amazon employs over 575,000 people across the globe, more than Google, Facebook, and Alibaba combined.
  11. Amazon’s warehouses have more square footage than 700 Madison Square Gardens and could hold more water than 10,000 Olympic Pools.
  12. Amazon’s logo is a yellow arrow that looks like a smile underneath the Amazon lettering. Originally, the smile design was meant to convey that, “we’re happy to deliver anything, anywhere,” but an Amazon press release expanded the meaning by emphasizing that the beginning of the smile/arrow started at the “A” and ended on the “Z “of “Amazon,” indicating that Amazon had everything to fulfill its customers’ needs from A-Z.
  13. Amazon.com employees spend two days every two years working at the customer service desk, even the CEO. This practice is to help all workers understand the customer service process.
  14. Amazon’s unique users are 5x more valuable than eBay’s. Amazon’s average unique user brings in about $189 while eBay’s brings in just $39.
  15. Amazon has a program that literally offers to pay employees to quit. The program, which is aptly titled “Pay to Quit,” offers employees a sum of money to quit their job once a year, every year they work for Amazon. In their first year, an employee is offered $2,000 to quit, with that offer increasing by $1,000 every year before maxing out at $5,000. The idea with the program, according to Bezos, is to “encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want.”


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