1. Amazon began in the garage of founder Jeff Bezos’ home in Bellevue, Wash.
To this day the property still has an oversize mailbox put in by Bezos to accommodate all of the mail the burgeoning business received.
2. Bezos originally wanted to name the company “Cadabra” as in “Abracadabra.”
He lost interest in the magical sounding name, however, after someone misheard it as Cadaver. Cadaver.com? Nope. Not gonna work.
3. Another potential company name Bezos liked was “Relentless.”
In fact, type Relentless.com into your address bar and see what happens.
4. When the website first went live it only sold books.
5. The first book sold was Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies by Douglas Hofstadte.
The original packing slip, seen above, is dated April 3, 1995.
6. According to the new book by author Jeff Stone, in Amazon’s early days a bell would ring in the office every time someone made a purchase.
Within a few weeks, sales were happening so frequently that they had to shut it off.
7. There was also a huge programming error in the early days that would let customers trick Amazon into sending them money.
All you had to do was order a negative quantity of books and Amazon would credit the money to your credit card. That error has long since been fixed.
8. In 1997, Barnes & Noble sued Amazon alleging that its 1990s slogan, “Earth’s Largest Bookstore,” was false.
The two titans settled out of court and Amazon continued to use the slogan.
9. As the company grew exponentially, early employees were expected to work no fewer than 60 hours per week.
All work and no play makes Jack…an Amazon employee.
10. Amazon’s practice of hiring so many seasonal workers originated after the insane holiday season of 1998.
The company was so understaffed at the time that employees were working graveyard shifts and bringing in their family and friends to try to meet orders.
11. Today Amazon has more than 117,000 employees worldwide and shows no signs of stopping its rapid expansion.
That’s more people than even Microsoft employs.
12. Amazon’s fulfillment center in Phoenix, Ariz., is made up of 1.2 million square feet.
It and other centers like it are so large, in fact, that one former employee said that he walked 11 miles per shift.
13. To help ease the burden on its warehouse workers, Amazon now uses robots to assist in retrieving items.
The robots are made by Kiva Systems, a company Amazon bought in early 2014 for $775 million.
14. In developmental stages the Kindle was named “Fiona” after a character in The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson.
In the book Fiona possesses a book-like machine that holds all libraries, TV shows, and human knowledge. The development team found the name so appropriate that they lobbied to make it the device’s actual name, but Bezos preferred Kindle.
15. Amazon holds a patent on 1-Click buying, and licenses it to Apple.
So every time you buy something on iTunes with 1-Click, Amazon is making money.
16. Bezos is said to be a very tough boss, one who doesn’t shy away from exploding at employees.
Author Jeff Stone interviewed employees who alleged that Bezos said:
“Are you lazy or just incompetent?”
“I’m sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?”
“This document was clearly written by the B team. Can someone get me the A team document? I don’t want to waste my time with the B team document.”
“Why are you wasting my life?”
Damn, Jeff. That’s cold, man!
17. Many former Amazon employees have gone on to found incredibly successful businesses.
18. Amazon once listed a book about flies for $23,698,655.93.
Amazingly, another Amazon store listed the same book for more than $18 million. The prices spiraled out of control because both stores had set algorithms to ensure that their product was always priced slightly higher than the other’s.
19. The company lost $4.8 million in August 2013, when its website went down for 40 minutes.
That’s a loss of $120,000 per minute.
20. Despite being the CEO, Bezos only makes $81,840 per year.
Before you feel bad for him, though, it should be mentioned that he owns almost 87 million shares in the company valued at about $23.5 billion. That makes him the 20th richest person in the world.
An earlier version was unclear and implied the book in No. 18 was sold, and not just listed. Also, in No. 19, it also said Amazon lost $120,000 per second, instead of minute.