January 22, 2019

Amazon and the Mystery ‘Cadaver’

Amazon and the Mystery ‘Cadaver’

If you’re a parent, then you know just how hard it is to name your kids – You don’t want them to be made fun of by other kids or constantly tell people how to correctly pronounce their name.

Naming a company can sometimes be just as tricky: You don’t want to confuse your customers or limit yourself if your business grows.

The story of how Amazon iterated through different names, to settle on its world-famous brand, is a great example of just how hard the process of naming a company can sometimes be.

In today’s world, it is difficult to think of a world without Amazon, yet the company almost never existed – at least not with the name Amazon.

Cadabra

Today, Amazon is one of the world’s largest companies, offering a range of e-commerce and technology solutions. It was founded as an online bookstore by Jeff Bezos in 1994, officially launching it the following year. It grew to become one of the first large companies to sell goods online.

Initially, Bezos named his new company Cadabra Inc. This name had been chosen as a play off the word “abracadabra” as a way for the company to show its customers just how magical it was to be able to do their shopping online.

When Bezos talked about the new name with his lawyer, he did not like the idea. He believed that the name was an obscure reference. What’s worse, he pointed out that, over the phone, it could be misheard as “cadaver.” Yikes!

Back to the Drawing Board

Bezos went back to the drawing board and, alongside his wife, McKenzie, they started to explore different possibilities. Their initial brainstorming led them to a name they both loved – Relentless.com.

However, his friends said that Relentless, as a name, sounded unfriendly. Still, he liked the name so much, that he bought it anyway. To this day, if you enter relentless.com into your browser’s address bar, you will be redirected to the Amazon home page.

Other domain names that Bezos considered and bought include browse.com, awake.com and bookmall.com.

Another name that the Amazon founder also considered, but later dismissed, is Aard. The reasoning behind it was to put it near the top of alphabetical domain lists that were the norm with many search engines before Google introduced its complex algorithms.

“Earth’s Biggest Bookstore” Finally Gets a Name

In the end, Bezos decided to settle for Amazon. For one, the name kept his company at the top of alphabetical listings. However, the major reason that he gives for choosing the name of the longest river in the world is to evoke a feeling of just how vast the e-commerce site would be. After all, Amazon’s tagline at the time was “Earth’s biggest bookstore.”

When so much of what we do on a day to day basis is connected to Bezos’ company, it sometimes feels like we live in an Amazon world. It is truly incredible to think that a company which started its life as a modest bookselling operation, would grow into the media giant we know today.