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The complicated origin of Amazon’s name
At first, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos called his e-commerce company (at that point just a bookseller) Cadabra Inc. The name was a play off “abracadabra” to show how magical online shopping was. But after a lawyer misheard the name as “cadaver,” Bezos figured he should rebrand, according to Mashable.
A bit of brainstorming led Bezos to relentless.com—a name he and his wife were crazy about, according to Business Insider. Friends told him Relentless sounded unfriendly, but Bezos still bought the domain name in 1994. To this day, if you type relentless.com into your browser, you’ll go straight to the Amazon.com homepage. Seriously, try it! Same goes for browse.com and awake.com, two other names Bezos considered.
He also came up with the name Aard, with the pure intention of making it to the top of alphabetical lists. Before the days of Google’s complex algorithms, some search engines would arrange links alphabetically, so having an “A” name would be a definite advantage.
Finally, Bezos settled on Amazon. For one thing, he could still keep his company at the top of the alphabet. But borrowing the name of the world’s longest river was supposed to evoke how huge it would be, according to Mashable. After all, the site’s tagline was “Earth’s biggest bookstore” when it started—back before you could read books online for free.
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Originally published as You’ll Never Guess What Amazon Was Almost Called—and Why They Had to Change the Name on ReadersDigest.com.