From Startups to Giants: 30 Intriguing Facts About American Companies – Part 2

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1Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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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.

7. 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.

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

9. 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.

10. 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.

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11General Mills

General Mills

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.

12. 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.

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

14. In 1971, Nike paid a college student $35 for the “swoosh” logo she designed. In 1983, Paul Knight sent her a golden Swoosh diamond ring, with an undisclosed amount of Nike stock as thanks.

15. During the Great Depression, W.K. Kellogg structured his cereal plant to work four six-hour shifts instead of three eight-hour shifts, providing employment for more people.

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In 1951, MGM owed the dog who played Lassie $40,000 in back pay. Not planning any more Lassie movies, MGM instead gave the rights to the Lassie trademark to the dog’s trainer, who spun it off into a TV show that ran for 19 seasons.

17. The graphics company Nvidia is named after the Latin ‘invidia’, which means ‘envy’. This is also the reason why they use the color green, as in “green with envy.”

18. In 1975 Procter & Gamble released the super-absorbent and long-lasting 'Rely' Tampon brand, marketed under the tagline “It Even Absorbs the Worry.” However, because women left the tampon in so long, the bloody tampon was the perfect environment to culture bacteria, causing an epidemic of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

19. The Post-It note was created by employees at 3M during their own “permitted bootlegging” time, a company-sanctioned time in which employees could work on their own side projects.

20. In the 1940s, Pepsi saw African Americans as an untapped niche market. Pepsi adverts portrayed them in a positive light, in a time with racial segregation, in spite of facing threats from KKK. Pepsi’s market share increased by the 1950s and African Americans were 3 times more likely to buy Pepsi than Coca-Cola.

21General Electric

General Electric

In the 1960s, General Electric designed a system that could bring an astronaut from orbit to the Earth’s surface in an emergency. The system consisted of a plastic bag that would be filled with polyurethane foam, a small deorbit rocket, and a parachute. It could fit into a suitcase.

22. Union Pacific train operators once faced a real-life "trolley problem" when 30 of its cars broke loose during a switching operation and headed at high speed without breaks toward downtown Los Angeles. They decided to derail them on a side track, destroying two homes and injuring 13 people.

23. The Kodak Company used a 13-month calendar from 1924 to 1989 and George Eastman pushed for its worldwide acceptance. It was a 28 day per month calendar.

24. In 1982 Xerox management watched a film of people struggling to use their new copier and laughed that they must have been grabbed off a loading dock. The people struggling were Ron Kaplan, a computational linguist, and Allen Newell, a founding father of artificial intelligence.

25. Programmers for Atari in the late 70s went to the CEO of the company asking for royalties and their names be included in the boxes. When he turned them down they went and formed their own company, Activision.

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