Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Things You Probably Didn't Know About Amazon" (AMZN)

From Economic Policy Journal:
The company's original name, Cadabra, was nixed after someone misheard it as "cadaver."

Bezos moved the company to an industrial neighborhood that it shared with a needle-exchange program and a shuttered pawnshop. He had 1,100 square feet of office space on the second floor and 400 square feet in the basement to use as a warehouse. The desks were made from cheap doors, with sawed-off two-by-fours for legs. The warehouse could store just a few hundred books on their way from the distributor to customers.

Three days after launch, Mr. Bezos got an email from Jerry Yang, one of the founders of Yahoo. "Jerry said, 'We think your site is pretty cool; would you like us to put it on the What's Cool page?' " Mr. Bezos later recalled. "We thought about it some, and we realized it might be like taking a sip from a fire hose, but we decided to go ahead and go for it." Yahoo put the site on the list, and orders soared.

By the end of the week, Amazon took in over $12,000 worth of orders. It was hard to keep up. That week, the company shipped just $846 worth of books. The following week brought in nearly $15,000 worth of orders, and the team was able to ship just over $7,000 worth of them.

At launch, the site wasn't even truly finished. Mr. Bezos's philosophy was to get to market quickly, in order to get a jump on the competition, and to fix problems and improve the site as people started using it. Among the early mistakes, according to Mr. Bezos: "We found that customers could order a negative quantity of books! And we would credit their credit card with the price and, I assume, wait around for them to ship the books."...MORE