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Massive Companies That Once Did Something Completely Different

A Nintendo logo

Many of today's huge companies are household names who we assume have been around for a long time doing exactly the same thing.

In fact, many of the big boys started their journeys doing completely different things and have evolved into the billion dollar companies they are today.

Here are a few notable examples:

Nokia was a paper mill

Founded in 1865, Nokia started as a paper mill in Finland.

It ventured into several industries over the years, including rubber, forestry, and cables, before transitioning into telecommunications and electronics.

The big change came in the late 20th century when Nokia focused on mobile and telecommunications technologies.

It became one of the world's leading phone companies before the rise of smartphones had a big impact on its business.

Nintendo made playing cards

Established in 1889, Nintendo began as a playing card company, producing handmade Hanafuda cards in Japan.

But throughout the 20th century, Nintendo ventured into various businesses, including toys and taxis.

It found its niche in the video game industry in the 1970s.

Today, it's known globally for its video game consoles and iconic characters like Super Mario and Zelda.

3M was a mining company

3M was founded in 1902 as a mining venture to mine corundum.

However, this failed.

After the initial failure, 3M shifted its focus to sandpaper products and eventually diversified into a wide range of products, including the famous Post-it Notes and Scotch tape, making it one of the leading companies in the industry.

It recently found itself in court over deals with Iran.

Wrigley sold soap

Wrigley started in 1891, selling soap and baking powder.

Its famous chewing gum first came as an incentive to buy their products.

However, the gum became more popular than the original products.

This led Wrigley to focus solely on producing gum.

Today, Wrigley's gum is one of the most recognizable brands worldwide.

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HP (Hewlett-Packard) was formed in a garage and sold electronic test equipment

HP was founded in a one-car garage in 1939 and initially produced a line of electronic test and measurement equipment.

Incredibly, its first big customer was Walt Disney Studios, which purchased oscillators for sound effects in the classic musical animation"Fantasia."

This success led HP to expand into computing in the 1960s, eventually becoming one of the dominant companies in personal computers, printers, and other hardware.

Twitter was a podcast company

Twitter's precursor was a podcasting platform called Odeo, which was struggling to compete with Apple's iTunes podcasting platform.

The company shifted focus and launched Twitter in 2006 as a microblogging platform.

It has since become one of the most influential social media platforms for real-time news and communication.

However, it has had numerous problems after the $44 billion takeover by "free speech absolutist" Elon Musk.

Slack was an internal communication tool

Slack began as an internal tool for Tiny Speck, a company developing an online game called "Glitch."

When "Glitch" failed to gain traction, the company pivoted to focus on the communication tool itself.

It launched Slack as a standalone product.

It has since become a leading platform for team collaboration and communication in workplaces around the globe.

Coca-Cola was a medicinal drink

Everyone knows the iconic soft drink, but did you know it started as a medicinal drink?

It was originally made by the chemist John Stith Pemberton as a coca wine to try to combat his morphine addiction.

The original recipe also contained cocaine.

Samsung was a grocery shop

Samsung's journey began in 1938 as a small grocery shop in Seoul.

It nearly went bankrupt in the 1960s as a result of the Korean War, so made the decision to move into electronics.

Adidas made textiles

Founded in 1924, the shoe giant Adidas initially produced textiles.

After World War II broke out, founder Adolf Dassler was compelled to make boots for the German Army.

After the war, he moved to making sports footwear, setting the stage for the brand's global recognition.

Shell sold decorative seashells

The fuel giant, which recently announced record profits, has a far more humble beginning.

Shell was started by Marcus Samuel in 1833.

It was initially a shop, selling antiques, curios, and oriental seashells to collectors in London.

The seashells were in high demand for interior decoration, inspiring the company's name and eventually its logo.

The business then expanded into trading and shipping, including the importation of oil.

This led to the formation of The Shell Transport and Trading Company in 1897.

The company's involvement in the oil and gas industry grew from there, eventually becoming the global energy company known as Royal Dutch Shell plc.

Shopify started as a snowboard company

Shopify was founded after its co-founders, including Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake, attempted to open an online snowboard shop called Snowdevil in 2004.

Lütke, a computer programmer by trade, decided to build his own e-commerce platform for their snowboard business as he wasn't happy about what was on offer.

The software eventually evolved into Shopify, an e-commerce platform designed to offer businesses a way to set up their own online stores.

Shopify was officially launched in 2006 and has since grown into one of the largest e-commerce platforms globally, allowing individuals and businesses to create and manage their online stores.

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