45 Odd Facts About American Businesses, Their Past & Its Founders – Part 2

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1General Electric

General Electric

In the 1920s newly hired engineers at General Electric would be told, as a joke, to develop a frosted light bulb. The experienced engineers believed this to be impossible. In 1925, newly hired Marvin Pipkin got the assignment not realizing it was a joke and succeeded.

2. Best Buy used to have a fake internal website that looked exactly like their actual internet website, but with marked-up prices so that they could price gouge in-store customers.

3. Sears created well-known financial services brands to sell diversified products in its stores like Discover Card, Allstate Insurance, Caldwell Banker and Dean Witter, only to sell them off later when they became valuable entities.

4. Johnson & Johnson knew there was Asbestos in Baby Powder for decades.

5. Farmers in USA are hacking their John Deere tractors with Ukrainian firmware, which seems to be the only way to actually own the machines and their software, rather than rent them for lifetime from John Deere.

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Nike wanted to call their first shoe design ‘Aztec’, but Addidas threatened to sue since they already had a line called ‘Aztec Gold.’ The Nike cofounders then decided to change the name to ‘Cortez’ after the general who “kicked the sh*t out of the Aztecs.”

7. When Crystal Pepsi was released, Coca-Cola released a competitor called Tab Clear, however, Tab Clear was intentionally marketed poorly in order to hurt Crystal Pepsi’s image by product association. The “born to die” strategy was successful and both campaigns were dead 6 months later.

8. Some of the Corporations that utilize American prison labor include Wal-Mart, Eddie Bauer, Victoria's Secret, Microsoft, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Nintendo, Chevron Corporation, Bank of America, Koch Industries, Boeing and Costco Wholesale.

9. A 3M adhesive tape plant accidentally created a force field of static electricity that was strong enough to prevent humans from passing through. A person near this “wall” was unable to turn, and so had to walk backward to retreat from it.

10. A man named Percy Spencer was working for what is now Raytheon when he noticed a radar set using electromagnetic waves melted the candy bar in his pocket. He had the idea to make a metal box using microwaves to heat food but the company was the one to file the patent. He received a $2 bonus but no royalties.

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The founder of Macy’s, Rowland Hussey, who was a Quaker, is credited with inventing the price tag. Quakers believed it was immoral to barter, charging people different prices for the same product. Also, price tags made it easier to expand and quickly hire new salespeople.

12. Starbucks sometimes operates at a loss intentionally and clusters several locations in a small geographical area to become anti-competitive in the market.

13. A customer was once gifted overgenerous contract terms due to a misplaced comma in a contract with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. The erroneous comma radically altered the inflation-adjustment formula resulting in a $70 million loss to Lockheed Martin.

14. The standard “Briefcase Full of Money” in many Hollywood movies is an aluminum, Zero Halliburton. These briefcases have appeared in over 200 films and TV shows, and are also believed to hold the U.S. nuclear football.

15. The founder of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, observing procurement and delivery procedures, fine-tuning his dream for an overnight delivery service. He was also awarded a Bronze Star, Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts.

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The pharmaceutical company, Gilead once developed a drug that cured Hepatitis C. This led to plummeting of their stock prices as fewer patients required the drug due to the fact that it worked so well.

17. When Southwest Airlines began using the motto “Just Plane Smart,” Stevens Aviation, which had been using “Plane Smart,” advised of infringing its trademark. Instead of a lawsuit, the CEOs staged an arm-wrestling match. The loser paid to a charity of his choice and the winner claimed the motto.

18. On Christmas Eve in 2008, SpaceX and Tesla were literally hours from bankruptcy until Elon Musk was able to secure $20 million from investors in those final hours. Two days later, SpaceX won a contract with NASA worth $1.6 Billion.

19. Marriott was fined $600,000 by the FCC in 2014 for blocking customers' personal Wi-Fi so customers were forced to pay for the internet.

20. Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, and Kohl's were all founded in 1962.



PG&E diverted funds for gas line improvements to executive pay and bonuses. Shortly thereafter a section that would've been replaced blew up destroying 38 houses and killing 8 people in 2010.

22. Texas Instruments invented the silicon transistor, the semiconductor, the transistor radio, and TTL chips. They’re also 199nd (as of 2019) on the Fortune 500 list, with a worth of $100 billion, and only 3% of their annual revenue comes from the calculators they are usually associated with.

23. Breakfast wasn’t regarded as the most important meal of the day until an aggressive marketing campaign by General Mills in 1944. They would hand out leaflets to grocery store shoppers urging them to eat breakfast, while similar ads would play on the radio.

24. Colgate-Palmolive bought a Chinese toothpaste brand called Darkie in 1985. The name was changed to Darlie but is still sold in China as Black Person Toothpaste.

25. VISA and MasterCard both started as not-for-profits and only turned in for-profits in 2006-2008.


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