When Amazon.com, Inc.
Originally, Bezos had his heart set on the name Cadabra, a play on the word abracadabra. He initially incorporated the company in Washington under the name Cadabra Inc. But the company's first lawyer, Todd Tarbert, intervened, pointing out that the name sounded too similar to cadaver over the phone.
Next, it was named Relentless.com, which still redirects you to Amazon, but that didn't stick. After registering domain names like Awake.com, Browse.com and Bookmall.com, Bezos began scouring the A section of the dictionary for inspiration. Back in the 1990s websites were alphabetized so he knew he needed the name to begin with the letter A. It was there that he came upon the word Amazon, which he felt was fitting because it referred to the largest river on Earth and perfectly represented the scale of his ambitions. The company officially became Amazon.com Inc.
In Amazon's early days, the team was so excited about each customer purchase that a bell would ring in the office every time an order was made. But it quickly became apparent that they would need to turn off the bell as it was ringing so frequently.
Despite the initial excitement, Amazon's future wasn't always guaranteed. In fact, it was an obscure book about lichens that saved the company from bankruptcy. Distributors required retailers to order 10 books at a time, but Amazon didn't have enough inventory or money to meet that requirement. The team eventually found a loophole by ordering one book they needed and nine copies of an always-out-of-stock lichen book. This allowed them to fulfill the ordering requirement while saving money.
Starting with just an idea and a small team, Bezos built the company into the global powerhouse it is today. If you're interested in investing in the next big thing and supporting entrepreneurs who are taking risks to pursue their dreams, you might want to check StartEngine. The platform connects investors with startups and emerging companies that are seeking funding to grow and expand. This means anyone can claim their stake in dozens of high-growth startups on the platform, including investing in StartEngine itself.
Bezos and his wife were running the business out of their garage, but the servers they used required so much power that the couple couldn't run a hair dryer or vacuum cleaner without risking a power outage. They held their company meetings at a local Barnes & Noble. Meanwhile, employees were expected to work grueling 60-hour weeks without any thought given to work-life balance.
In his 2013 book "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," author Brad Stone describes the work culture at Amazon during its early years. Stone reports that there was no explicit policy against taking weekends off, but the unspoken expectation was that employees would work seven days a week.
And it's not just their personal lives that were being neglected - one employee was so dedicated to his work that he completely forgot about his parked car for eight months, only to find out it had been sold at an auction after accumulating a pile of parking tickets and warnings.
Amazon employees from the past had to take drastic measures to fulfill orders during the holiday season. They were so short-staffed that every worker had to pull a graveyard shift at the fulfillment centers. To make matters worse, some even had to bring their own friends and family along for the ride and would catch some shut-eye in their cars before clocking back in the next day.
After that experience, Bezos vowed to never face a labor shortage during the holiday rush again, which is why Amazon now hires so many seasonal workers.