Unbelievable Origins of Popular Websites

If you think that some of the biggest social media platforms and online businesses today were went straight from the ideation process to reality, then you’re sorely mistaken. Why? Because Instagram had a history with alcohol, because YouTube was meant for love, because Amazon only sold book. Are you curious yet? If you’d like to learn about some of the most unbelievable origin stories of the world’s most popular websites today, keep reading. 

1. YouTube Was for Dating

YouTube for dating? Well the name does make sense. At the time, founders wanted potential users to upload videos of what they wanted in a partner. They site even had the tagline, “Tune in, Hook up.” But no one was interested, not even when its creators started offering women money to use the site. So a co-founder volunteered as tribute and uploaded a video of himself at the zoo. It’s safe to say all kinds of content got the okay after that and dating went right out the window. 

2. Amazon Was a Book Store 

Today, Amazon sells practically everything under the sun – even houses. But the site wasn’t always worth billions. In fact, Amazon’s humble beginnings in 1995 saw the company only selling books. That’s it. Eventually, it expanded to sell CDs, but books were Bezos’ main focus for the first three years that the site existed. And in 1998, Jeff Bezos expanded again, acquiring companies that would see Amazon become an online marketplace. 

3. WhatsApp Was Supposed to be a Phonebook

When WhatsApp founders Koum and Acton created their now global company, they had no idea they created a messaging app. The two resigned from their jobs at Yahoo then made an app designed to let people have a status update next to their names. What this was meant to do was to send information to future callers, letting them know what was up with them. It was only after Apple allowed push notifications which enabled users to see when their friends or contacts updated their statuses that the founders realized it was being used as a form of communication. So Koum and Acton went for round two and the WhatsApp we know today was born. 

4. Instagram Was for Meetups

Can you imagine Instagram being anything other than what it is now? Well, in 2010, it was. The first unbelievable thing is that the name was supposed to be Burbn, yes, after bourbon whiskey. Secondly, Burbn was created to plan meetups, where users could check in at places they went to, make plans to go back there with their friends, then post pictures of that meet-up on the app. The idea flopped because it was way too complicated, but the creators did notice that users liked sharing photos the most. So the idea changed, was made much simpler and Instagram made its debut. 

5. Twitter Was Supposed to Run via SMS

When Jack Dorsey and friends founded Twitter, the idea was that the platform was meant to be run via SMS. This meant that instead of the free online site we use today, we would be charged a fee per SMS for each tweet. During beta testing, workers found that their phone bills increased by hundreds of dollars because of the massive number of texts (including tweets) they sent out; one person spent over $400 in just one month. Thankfully they switch to an all-web platform shortly after.


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