Most businesses offer inspiring origin stories about how their founder had a remarkable vision for helping the world and saw it through, starting at a garage to a worldwide business.
You know the sort of thing – How a billion-dollar corporation was created in the CEO’s bedroom.
However, that’s not always the case.
Some companies arose from some fairly odd circumstances, some of which are quite dark.
YouTube was inspired by an infamous incident at the Super Bowl
The video sharing giant actually started as a dating site back in 2005.
However, it struggled to get anyone to upload their “dating videos.”
The creators even offered $20 to women they sought on Craigslist.
Tthe site’s policy of showing its users videos randomly rather than letting you guide to or share specific ones, it appeared Youtube may only ever be a footnote in internet history.
One thing YouTube had going for it was that they got into the game early.
And the reason for this was clear about a year earlier.
It was Super Bowl XXXVIII, and singer Justin Timberlake revealed Janet Jackson’s breast during the notorious halftime show.
This prompted a typical response of people hunting for the clip.
TV shows weren’t showing it, so it was hard to track down.
Computer scientist Jawed Karim spotted millions of people would like to see the controversial video.
He recognized there was a desire for a website where anyone could upload videos, unburdened by silly things like restrictions or “if you held the rights to that footage.”
A decade and a half after, YouTube now has a video monopoly where you can find videos of literally anything, which is great for things like DIY or learning how to do new things.
It’s less good side is offering a platform for people spreading bizarre conspiracies or misinformation.
Victoria’s Secret was initially aimed at men and its owner commited suicide
Victoria’s Secret uses gorgeous models, which leads to occasional outrage about whether it’s terrible for feminism.
The business very much caters to a female client base.
But this was not initially the case as, at first, it was mainly for men.
Founder Roy Raymond created the company after not being able to buy lingerie for his wife without significant embarrassment.
Raymond created a lingerie shop which men could go to comfortably, but women were banned.
He designed the decor after what he envisiged a Victorian brothel looked like.
The business was not massively successful, mainly because men don’t buy as much women’s underwear as women do.
Raymond was left with no choice but selling the business for $1 million.
It was transformed by its new owners, who realised women were more likely to want to buy women’s underwear.
The success of Raymond’s chain was somewhat restricted because men don’t buy a lot of women’s underwear.
With the business-facing bankruptcy, Raymond had no choice but to sell Victoria’s Secret for $1 million. The new owners changed it around and marketed it to women, and Victoria’s Secret became a multi-billion-dollar firm.
His new business went bankrupt, Raymond’s marriage collapsed, and he jumped off Golden Gate Bridge to his death.
A cult leader founded the Washington Times
The Washington Times is deemed a conservative newspaper, with a good reputation in the United States.
The Unification Church was one of the non-native religious movements in the United States in the ’70s. ]
It was led by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, an interesting character whose main belief was that he was embodiment of God.
He was banned from most of Europe after being deemed a cult leader.
Among his modest utterings are: “The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the world.”
He aimed to do this by attempting to expand his religion but also by running hundreds of various businesses, funded by his multiple followers, gathering donations worldwide.
His businesses included growing ta and making guns.
In 1982, he created The Washington Times and put billions of dollars into it, declaring it would be “the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world.”
Also, the paper’s first president said: “We are going to make it so that no one can run for office in the United States without our permission.”
Some would say that role is now more taken by Fox News, although not quite in a literal sense.
News Corp started out as a mining group’s propaganda arm
News Corp is behind the massively powerful news outlets Fox News, Britain’s The Sun, The New York Post, and many other outlets.
If you’re not a fan of these news sources, you’re likely to criticize them for their strong right wing stance on most matters.
But their role in propaganda goes back to the very beginning, even though the business has done its best to protect the truth with its own “fair and level” history lesson.
According to the famous story, News Corp was created in the 1920s by James Edward Davidson, an ethical journalist who’d worked his way up starting at the bottom; he worked with many Australian papers before quitting because he was too honorable for them.
One day he met a miner, and they came up with the idea to make their newspaper.
News Corp was formed after he met a miner on a train, and the two decided to make their own newspaper.
In 1949, it was bought by Sir Keith Murdoch, father of the hugely powerful media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
It turned out the “miner” was in fact the PR man a mining consortium, who had been tasked with setting up new newspapers to counter claims written in publications by the unions.
This, for want of a better term, meant he wanted pro-mining propaganda outlets.
After the takeover “mining”, changed to “right-wing politics and interests” and News Corps and Murdoch, who is now 91, remain hugely powerful around the world.
Taco Bell took its taco recipe from its neighbouring restaurant
Restaurants that serve bad food don’t stay as restaurants for very long
The trick is to establish a formula, and then work out a way to continue that formula without spending massive amounts.
But it has to be good.
In the early 1950s, a man called Glen Bell was a restaurant owner whose dream was to sell the very best hot dogs.
After he sold his hot dog stand and opened a restaurant, he decided to investigate selling tacos.
His “research” included visiting the cafe next story, which served tacos in hard shells.
He befriended the team and was eventually invited into the kitchen to see how the tacos were made.
His way of thanking them was to start selling exactly the same thing in his own restaurant.
This morphed into a taco-stand, followed by restaurants, and eventually Taco Bell.
The cafe, Mitla Cafe, is still there, and Bell eventually sold 868 Taco Bells to Pepsi for $125 million.