9 things you probably didn't know about Amazon

  • Amazon was almost named "Cadabra," which is short for the magic term, "abracadabra."
  • CEO Jeff Bezos started the company in 1995 by selling books.
  • There are about 6,000 dogs that "work" at Amazon HQ in Seattle - they even have a dog park on site.
  • Watch the video above for more fun facts about Amazon.

Following is a transcript of the video.

1. Amazon was almost given a completely different name.

The company was originally called Cadabra, like the magic term "abracadabra." But Jeff Bezos' lawyer told him that the magic reference was too obscure, and when you say it out loud, "cadabra" could be mistaken for "cadaver." Eventually, they came up with the name Amazon, a reference to the river in South America. The idea was that their selection of books would be vast and wide, just like the world's largest river. They did have many other names in mind and still own one of the domains. If you type in Relentless.com in your browser, you will be redirected to Amazon.com.

2. The company started out selling books.

When Jeff Bezos first started the company in 1995, it was just a bookstore run out of his home garage. So when Amazon opened their first physical bookstore in 2015, it was staying true to the roots of the company.

3. Amazon hasn't paid federal taxes in two years.

Amazon's profits nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018, but the company hasn't paid federal taxes in two years. This is completely legal. The US government allows companies certain tax breaks and deductions. One policy, called the R&D tax credit, encourages companies to spend its profits on research and development. From 2005 to 2014, Amazon received over $600 million in tax breaks to build warehouses in certain states. It received another $147 million in tax breaks for building data centers around the country.

4. Last year, AWS made Amazon $7.3 billion in revenue.

You've probably seen this logo before. It looks a lot like Amazon's, yet slightly different. The acronym stands for Amazon Web Services, a cloud service Amazon operates. It provides a complete hosting solution for businesses, including data storage, power, and IT resources. It allows many startups to begin with low overhead as they purchase only what they need from AWS and increase their needs as the company grows. Many sites and apps we use every day run on AWS, including Lyft, Airbnb, Netflix, and Spotify. Even large enterprises like Time Inc. and Comcast have moved their servers to the AWS cloud. A major part of Amazon's total revenue comes from this service. In 2018, the company reported that AWS made $7.3 billion in revenue. That's up from $4.3 billion in 2017.

5. What you can't buy on Amazon

Since you can buy pretty much anything on Amazon, it's worth mentioning the items you can't buy directly on the website. Full-size homes, cars, cigarettes, and live animals are some things you might have to leave your house to purchase.

6. Amazon owns 41 subsidiaries and brands.

When you shop for shoes on Zappos.com or search your favorite actor on IMDb, you're making Amazon money. Other brands they own include Goodreads, Whole Foods, Audible, and Souq.com, an eCommerce site for Middle Eastern countries. In total, Amazon owns 41 subsidiaries and brands.

7. An operations manager had an interesting method to let out frustration.

Holiday season is stressful for the retail industry. Jeff Wilke, who was the operations manager in the early 2000s, had an interesting method to let out frustration. He would encourage his employees who had just accomplished a goal to call him, close their eyes, and yell at the top of their lungs like a primal scream.

8. Amazon is a pet-friendly environment.

Amazon's employees love having their furry friends around the office. There are about 6,000 dogs that work at Amazon's campus in Seattle. It has always been a pet-friendly environment. There is even a doggy deck in one of the buildings with a fake fire hydrant.

9. The Spheres provide a nature escape for Seattle employees.

Amazon wanted a space for employees to get away from their desks to collaborate and innovate. In 2018, the company opened The Spheres at its campus in Seattle. The Spheres are filled with over 400 species of plants from around the world. The plants are frequently rotated out and stored in a greenhouse nearby. John Schoettler says that a link to nature is missing from workplaces. As the vice president of corporate real estate and facilities, he wanted to bring that environment to Amazon's culture.
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