General

5 things you didn't know about Amazon

Most people think about Amazon only when they’re ordering products and then during the two days they have to wait for those products to arrive. The company revolutionized e-commerce with fast shipping and easy returns, but how did this international conglomerate get to where it is now?

Amazon was originally a bookstore

Busy people traveling in front of Amazon book store at night, New York, USA
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Back in the day when Amazon was barely more than a dollar and a dream, that dream included online book sales. In its earliest iteration in 1995, Amazon was literally a bookstore. At that time, the company wasn’t even known as Amazon but Cadabra. However, advisors convinced founder Jeff Bezos to pick a name that sounded less like “cadaver” and more like a successful business. Several concepts later, Bezos settled on Amazon, and the rest — as they say — is history.

The company scaled very quickly

Street view of Amazon distribution center building with white signs and logo, Las Vegas, Nevada
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For a startup, the idea of “scaling” is a major thing. It’s not just a buzzword but an overall goal. To scale means that you’re able to not just grow your business but to improve your infrastructure to support that growth. And in the case of Amazon, scaling meant not just shifting names from Cadabra to Amazon. It also meant taking over other businesses that — at the time — were the big boys on the block. Don’t believe us? Only four years after Amazon officially opened for business, they bought out Overstock.com, Pets.com, and Drugstore.com.

1998 was a turning point for the company

Street view of innovative Amazon Go grocery store without checkout lines, Seattle, Washington
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It’s a bit of an understatement to say that 1998 was the year that changed Amazon forever. Christmas has always been a retail-oriented holiday, but for Amazon, Christmas 1998 was the year that helped them build a name for themselves in the e-commerce arena. The company was slammed with so many orders that it was operating under an “all hands on deck” policy. Employees weren’t even going home during this time of year. Instead, they were sleeping in their cars and having relatives on the warehouse floor with them to help fulfill orders.

The original Amazon didn’t have a formal office

Aerial view of massive Amazon distribution center building with sign and logo, IASI, Romania
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These days Amazon has an office that’s the envy of the tech world and is based in Bellevue, Washington (keep reading to find out more about that). But once upon a time, Amazon was “headquartered” wherever the founding team could meet. And back in 1994, that meant the local Barnes & Noble. It wasn’t until 1996 that the company was able to afford permanent digs.

Amazon has a unique workplace environment

Amazon's Sphere work concept in the middle of a busy metropolitan area, Seattle, Washington
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While Amazon is more likely to be in the news for its intense focus on warehouse productivity, the brand also has one of the most innovative workplaces in the nation. The company is known for its pet-friendly work environment, with roughly 6,000 furry friends that share the Seattle headquarters with their pet parents.

Likewise, wellness is a focal aspect of life on the Seattle campus. The company prides itself on its Spheres, an immersive green space for employees to get up close and personal with nature. The Spheres is also a popular meeting space for project teams as the greenery is said to encourage inspiration and innovation.