Amazon's history, like many Silicon Valley startups, has several young people in the garage starting to put their ideas into practice. In the autumn of 1994, shell kaphan, a senior computer scientist and former employee of whole Earth Catalog, joined Amazon and became the first employee of Amazon. Shell kaphan worked with Founder Bezos before he registered Amazon. In fact, he was Amazon's first employee. Recently, shell kaphan, who left Amazon in 1999, gave an interview with geekwire, recalling Amazon's early experiences.
Early garage business
Shell joined Amazon's startup team in October 1994, and a month later they had a second employee, Paul Davis. When she first arrived in Bellevue, shell didn't have a computer. So the first thing to start a business is to buy a computer, and then decide what kind of database system to use and what software is available. At that time, no one knew how to write a website, so they had to explore and practice by themselves. When shell and Paul were crazy about coding, Jeff Bezos wrote business plans, held meetings with the American bookseller Association, and so on. At that time, the division of labor was quite clear.
Although he was busy at work, shell mentioned an interesting thing that impressed him. As soon as they arrived at the office in the morning, the Bezos told him, "no work today. Go to Mt. Rainier. This is the last few days of the year to go to Mount Rainier. "So they drove to paradise and had a day off and put their work aside.
Meet Jeff Bezos
Shell got to know Bezos through friends. At that time, Bezos worked in de Shaw and was about to leave to start a business. The idea was to sell books through the Internet. Because Bezos had studied business plans to prepare for de Shaw's investment in the Internet. At that time, he analyzed a lot of relevant data and determined the direction of selling books. Shell got to know Bezos through friends, and Bezos met with shell during a visit to California. When Bezos flew to California for the second time to meet shell, they even looked at the office together, and Bezos had not yet decided where to put the office.
Eventually, Bezos chose to put his office in Seattle rather than California. There are three reasons: at that time, it was thought that this venture would not last long, and it was not appropriate to do mail order related business in California, a state with a large population and a sales tax. Secondly, choose a place close to the main book wholesale center, which can be delivered in one day. The last reason is to want to be in a place where it is easier to find talent. Although the new office is not in California, shell is firmly moving from California to Seattle.
Speaking of his impression of Bezos, shell said, "I was impressed by Jeff's wisdom and concentration. Comparing his background with the people I've met at innovation companies before, Jeff is a dynamic and focused person. He is a man who can succeed in everything. I have a good sense of humor and have a good understanding of technology. At least we won't feel entangled when we explain why something is like this and why it takes such a long time.
The ingenuity of the founders, plus the excellent team, Amazon.com seem ready to come out at one 's call.
Shell's first title was vice president of R & D and became CTO two and a half years later. When he joined Amazon, Amazon didn't have a name. Later Bezos registered with Cadabra, the abbreviation of abracadabra (nonsense). Others on the phone thought it was "cadaver". Shell was not satisfied with the name. Then came the name relentless (meaning uninterrupted service and customer satisfaction).
One day, Bezos said, "I think of a name, and that's it: Amazon.com 。 Amazon is the longest river in the world, which can indicate that the scale and content of Amazon are the best. Also, the name begins with the letter A This makes Amazon always top the list of recommendations in alphabetical order on Netscape's latest "what's cool" and "what's new.".
The process of starting a business was very hard. Shell encountered a lot of technical problems, such as creating categories from various non authoritative sources, which were not considered for integration into the database. "There was no Ruby on rails development environment, and there was no way to build a website in 10 minutes with dynamic features," he said. The programming language used at that time was C language, and the most basic functions were realized with the most basic NCSA library. The web server runs the code on behalf of the user, and the user may also be doing other operations at the same time. When the user returns, the website may be offline, or the server status cannot be maintained or dynamically maintained between different user requests. We solve the problem by using the session ID on the URL, indexing the database content on the server side, because there was no cookie at that time. "
The difficulties are not limited to website technology. At that time, Amazon said it had a million books. Yes, there were millions of titles, but there were not a million books. Some of them needed to be reserved. It might take months to find the publisher and get a reply. Fortunately, most of the time it's done in a few weeks.
The difficulties are being overcome one by one, and Amazon is getting more users and growing.
Amazon grows, shell leaves
When Bezos's picture appeared in the Wall Street Journal, shell realized that Amazon was a big deal. For six consecutive quarters, Amazon doubled its business volume each quarter. "Well, whatever Amazon is going to look like, it's bigger than I thought it would be," shell sighs
As the company continues to expand, more and more talents have joined Amazon. All of the big companies are starting to have problems: they meet every day, and work starts to get less interesting. Shell said, "in the first two years of joining Amazon, I had more programming work than management work. I knew about the current technical situation and technical operation. I used to use the telephone line to surf the Internet at night to deal with some small problems. I could put on my clothes and fix the computer immediately. I could do anything."
Then things changed. In 1999, Amazon hired two new technology managers. Shell was promoted to CTO to be responsible for the architecture. But soon, the new technical manager's projects had a greater impact on the architecture, and shell was not involved. He gradually felt marginalized. In his new position, he might not be able to do what he wanted to do, so he left Amazon.
Shell is still a shareholder of Amazon and a user of the Kindle, often on Amazon. But he no longer keeps in touch with Bezos and doesn't often attend Amazon's shareholder meetings. He likes Amazon when he started his own business. He also admits that he is not suitable for and does not like large companies and institutions, and does not want to work in large companies.
But looking back, he spoke highly of his early job at Amazon, which he thought was the most interesting job he had ever done.
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