The Incredible Early History of Amazon

Amazon might be one of the most powerful companies of all time. After all, they have ubiquitous marketing campaigns and the ability to deliver almost any item you can dream of to your doorstep overnight. However, the path to this kind of dominance wasn’t straightforward, and Amazon definitely experienced some growing pains along the way. Here are some surprising facts about the early days of Amazon.

Amazon wasn’t the original pick for the company’s name.

When Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, was setting up the company, he didn’t have the name “Amazon” in mind. Instead, he wanted to name the company Cadabra. His lawyer at the time convinced him that “cadabra” sounded too much like “cadaver” to be a good name for a brand. He then considered naming the company Relentless. Eventually, he came around to naming the business Amazon, but he held onto the idea of Relentless long enough to buy the domain. If you visit Relentless.com today, it will redirect you to Amazon’s website.

It only took a month for Amazon to sell books in every state.

When the launch of Amazon occurred, the company used to ring a bell every time a purchase came in. However, sales soon piled up so quickly that they had to abandon the bell. Within a month, they had made at least one sale in each of the 50 states. However, even with their early demand, they had trouble paying for all of the stock they needed. Book publishers would require companies to order at least 10 books in a shipment, which was more than Amazon needed. To get around the problem, the company would initially order one or two books, and then complete their order with the publisher using a rare book about lichen. The lichen book was always out of stock, so Amazon would only have to pay for the books they actually needed.

Amazon used a Barnes & Noble location for meetings.

In the early days, Amazon ran out of Bezos’ garage. Even after they moved into a small office, there wasn’t much space for meetings. For this reason, Amazon used to do what many small businesses have done for years—hold meetings in the coffee shop of their local Barnes & Noble. Eventually, Bezos got to meet the owners of Barnes & Noble, who told him that they were going to launch a competing website that would put Amazon out of business. Of course, things didn’t quite work out that way.

Amazon felt threatened by eBay.

When eBay launched with a bang, Bezos loved the format of the site and was worried that online auctions were going to be the next big thing in internet business. As such, Amazon launched its own auction site. eBay easily beat Amazon at auctioning, but Bezos still owns some of the items he bought off Amazon’s auction site, including a $40,000 skeleton of an Ice Age bear.

You don’t have to be a company the size of Amazon to build your brand with smart digital marketing. Let Pennington Creative put together a digital marketing campaign designed with your industry and budget in mind. From onsite content to social media marketing and infographics, we can help your business connect with customers. To talk to a digital marketing specialist in Tucson today, call us at (520) 344-4672.

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Heather - Digital Marketing Specialist, Copywriting
Heather McDonald

Digital Marketing Specialist, Copywriting

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