Most people know Amazon as this huge international online retailer, but it was not always like this. John Bezos incorporated the company in 1994 and launched its website in 1995. The company initially only sold books out of John’s garage. While climbing the ladder to become the huge retailer it is currently, Amazon took many turns over the years. The old adage that Rome was not built in one day is definitely true and applies to all the big successful enterprises that dominate the business world today.
In May 1997, Amazon issued its first public offering of stock at a price of $18/share and although Amazon had a solid business plan, investors started to worry about the future. The reason for their concern was the fact that the company had no intentions of making any profit for the first five years. This plan was frustrating for investors, however, it enabled Amazon to navigate its way through the dot-com bubble that crushed so many others in the e-commerce space. During the first quarter of 2001 Amazon finally became profitable, and posted a revenue of $1 billion with a profit of $5 million. This may have been a small profit for the company, but it justified the plan that Bezos set in place from day one.
We are all familiar with Apple and their involvement in changing the way we interact with the digital world of today. However, Apple really had to go through the ravines to become what it is today.
While in high school, Steve Jobs, who showed an early interest in electronics and gadgetry, called the co-founder and president of Hewlett-Packard William Hewlett, to ask for parts for a school project. Impressed by Jobs, Hewlett not only gave him the parts but also offered him a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard. While working at Hewlett-Packard Jobs met and befriended Steve Wozniak, a young engineer. Wozniak had been trying to build a small computer and while it was just a hobby to him, Jobs grasped the marketing potential of such a device and convinced Wozniak to go into business with him.
In 1975, Jobs and Wozniak set up shop in Jobs’ parents’ garage, called the venture Apple, and began working on the prototype of the Apple I. To generate the $1,350 in capital they used to start Apple, Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagen microbus, and Steve Wozniak sold his Hewlett-Packard calculator. Although the Apple I sold mainly to hobbyists, it generated enough capital to enable Jobs and Wozniak to enhance and improve their design. In 1977, they introduced the Apple II – the first personal computer with color graphics and a keyboard. Designed for beginners, the user-friendly Apple II was a tremendous success, ushering in the era of the personal computer. Apple’s first-year sales topped $3 million and two years later, sales grew to $200 million.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford University and although they initially did not really see eye to eye, eventually struck a partnership. Working from their dorm rooms, they built a search engine that used links to determine the importance of individual pages on the World Wide Web. They called this search engine Backrub.
Backrub was renamed Google and fittingly reflected Larry and Sergey’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Over the next few years, Google not only caught the attention of the academic community but Silicon Valley investors as well. In August 1998, Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim wrote Larry and Sergey a check for $100,000, and Google Inc. was officially born. With this investment, the newly incorporated team moved from the dorms to a garage in suburban Menlo Park, California, owned by Susan Wojcicki, (currently CEO of YouTube). Clunky desktop computers, a ping pong table, and bright blue carpet set the scene for Google’s early days and late nights. In the years that followed, the company expanded rapidly and eventually moved from the garage to its current headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Hmm… maybe I should move my office to a garage somewhere.☺