Amazon.com, founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, is the world’s largest online retailer that has unbelievably humble beginnings in a garage of the founder. The online retail giant initially started as a virtual bookstore. Bezos had already built a wildly successful career in Wall Street but after recognizing the expansive possibilities of selling via the exponentially expanding internet, he quit to start his own online company. For nearly a year, Bezos and a crew of 5 (or so) employees worked out of his garage, setting up and continually developing Amazon.com. The company went public in 1997, having grown from a startup with revenues of about $20,000 per week to an internet behemoth boasting tens of millions in sales and over 100 employees. Today, Amazon is worth a little over $300 billion.
Minecraft, the second most popular game ever, is another multibillion-dollar operation that was initially set up from home. The video game was created by Markus Persson, a Swedish programmer, who built the program and his gaming company on his off-hours while working a full-time job. After releasing its tech demo in 2009, this first-person sandbox video game quickly gained popularity forcing him to quit his job and focus on it full time. He would later sell the program to Microsoft for a whopping $2.5 billion! Minecraft now ranks as the world’s top most downloaded game, and has grossed over 700 million since its launch in 2011.
Google, the world’s most popular search engine, actually began as a research project by two PhD students at Stanford University. These two students are none other than Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. Page and Brin met and began collaborating on a project called BackRub, which concentrated on the problem of establishing which web pages link to a given website. Their focus was to come up with a system that analyzed the backlink data of a given web page with the aim of providing highly relevant and better search results than those offered by search engines of the day – which ranked search results according to the number of times a specific search term appeared on a page.
They worked on the Backrub project from their campus dorm room with their search engine operating on Stanford servers, as they were reluctant to leave their studies and become entrepreneurs. However, after the search engine began to get about 10,000 visitors a day they had to move it and start taking it seriously. They set up the company’s first “office” in a friend’s garage in Menlo Park, California. And less than a year later, the company was forced to move to a bigger space due to its unprecedented rapid growth. It went public in 2004. As of 2016, the search giant averages 100 billion searches and is the world’s most valuable brand.
In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft after dropping out of college. They focused on programming language and software operations, working from a small garage that was just big enough for two workers.
Microsoft has grown so big over the years it’s now a multinational computing giant that is worth billions and has operations across the globe. The corporation topped $93.6 billion in revenue in 2015. Its operating system Windows remains the most widely used of all software programs, with about 80 percent of computers worldwide running this OS.
Another multi-billion company that started as a home based business is Apple. It was a brainchild of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, both of whom launched the business in 1976. The company was originally called Apple Computers INC, and focused on developing computers. Though the company began operations in job’s parent’s garage, it grew tremendously under the leadership of jobs to become the multi-billion technology giant that it is today. Over the past few years, it has led a technological revolution with its innovative products, which include: Mac computers, iPhones, iPads, and iPods. Apple currently tops the list of public corporations by market capitalization with an estimated market cap of $627.97 billion!
Back in 1939, William “Bill” Redington Hewlett and David “Dave” Packard decided to establish their own partnership business involved in the manufacture of electronic products. Based out of a one-car garage in Palo Alto, CA, and with a startup capital of only $538, the two began building and marketing a wide range of products ranging from electronics to agricultural products. Their big break came when they were able to sell several of their audio oscillators to Walt Disney, who needed them for boosting their sound systems. Today, Hewlett-Packard is an electronics giant, and one of the largest computer hardware suppliers in the world. The company reported fiscal year 2015 revenues of $103.4 billion, despite stiff competition from technology companies like Dell and Apple.
Ok, so this one did not actually start from home; it began someplace even less comfortable: the trunk of a car. As a successful college athlete at the University of Maryland, Kevin Plank, the founder chairman and CEO of Under Armour, found himself very frustrated at having to constantly change sweat soaked cotton t-shirts every time he went out to practice for the university’s football team. He set out to find a solution to this sweat-soaked shirt conundrum. So he began searching for high-performance fabrics that he would later use to create his first prototype of Under Armour HeatGear T-shirt. This was in 1996 after graduating from college. Initially, he worked out of his grandmother’s basement and would travel selling the shirts out of the trunk of his car. He made shirts and gave them to his friends and football teammates who went on to play in the NFL. By the end of his first year in business, he had garnered enough of a following to move his operations out of the basement and into a new warehouse located in Baltimore, Maryland. His big break came in 1999 when his company was contracted by Warner Bros to outfit the feature films The Replacements and Any Given Sunday. Under Armour has boosted its annual revenue forecast for 2016 to $5billion, up from $4.95 billion. This would put it on pace for a 26% gain this year.
When Walt Disney was 16, he dropped out of school to enlist in the U.S. Army but was rejected for being underage. Later, he and his brother Roy O. Disney started from scratch and co-founded The Walt Disney Company. Their first film studio was based in his uncle’s garage. In those days, Walt would use dry-goods boxes and spare lumber to rig up a cartoon stand. This is a far cry from life in their today’s modern studios found in multiple locations. The company reported fiscal 2015 full year total revenues of $53 billion.
Founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark, Craigslist originally started as an email distribution list. Newmark used to post notices of social events in and around his home area in San Francisco, but was pleasantly surprised when people started to use his email distribution list to post other items like jobs. He decided to leave his full-time job as a programmer to concentrate on running Craigslist full-time. He incorporated it as a private for-profit company in 1999. Today, it is believed to be worth over $1 billion. Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, has been quoted saying that, if Craigslist was run more like a company rather than a commune then it would be worth well over $5 billion.