From a good piece on Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal: Amazon’s original name was Cadabra, which was nixed after someone misheard it as “cadaver.” Interesting fact of the day, to be sure.
The other highlights from the piece. Ding!
At first, there were a half-dozen orders per day. One of the programmers set up the computers so that a bell would ring every time an order came in. A great novelty at first, it quickly got annoying and had to be turned off.
I share this philosophy about launching. Put it out there, and then constantly improve what you build (rather than aiming for perfection at the beginning):
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.
Fascinating tidbit about a glitch of an early version of Amazon’s site:
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.”
Sounds like I would have been a candidate for the third book mentioned here:
In the very early days, Mr. Bezos had employees pick out the 20 strangest titles sold every week and awarded a prize for the strangest. Some of the winners: “Training Goldfish Using Dolphin Training Techniques,” “How to Start Your Own Country” and “Life Without Friends.”
Finally, I had no idea Amazon had a patent on the one-click purchase option:
From the beginning, Mr. Bezos was fanatical about squeezing from Amazon.com every incremental degree of usefulness. New features were often simple things, like 1-Click ordering—whose notorious patent was called by one law journal “probably the most memorable example of an unoriginal software patent.” It forbids any other online retailer from using a one-click purchasing option without paying a royalty to Amazon.
Way to go, Mr. Bezos.