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六大知名企业的前世今生 6 Bizarre, Yet True, Corporate Origin Stories


  Everybody loves corporations. From AIG2) to BP3) to Halliburton4), the public's trust in these monolithic5) legal entities designed to shield6) its members from liability7) is at an all time high8). In honor of our ongoing corporate love fest, we've put together a list of six bizarre, yet true, corporate origin stories.


Coca-Cola  Fulton County Georgia became a dry9) county in 1886. This posed quite the dilemma for John Pemberton, who had been selling a kick-ass10) cocaine and wine mixture called "Pemberton's French Wine Coca" at his drug store. Necessity being the mother of invention, Pemberton was forced to develop a non-alcoholic version of his drink, and the forerunner to what we know as Coca-Cola was born.

  Luckily for Coke fans, Pemberton decided to sell the rights to his product to various business men, including Asa Griggs Candler11). Candler eventually consolidated his control of the product, and was responsible for the company's franchise12) production model in which the Coca-Cola syrup concentrate is sold to bottlers for final production. This decentralized production process allowed the product to spread around the world and become the cultural icon as it is today.


FedEx  During the early days of FedEx (Federal Express), founder Frederick Smith found himself running short14) on cash for the company payroll15). Caught between a rock and a hard place16), Smith flew to Vegas and bet his company's future on the blackjack tables. Luckily for his employees, Smith won and quickly wired $27,000 back to meet the payroll demands. The company went on to become one of the largest freight17) haulers18) in the world, with close to 300,000 employees and billions in assets.

  Levi Strauss & Co.19) —The Gold Rush and Copper Rivets

Levi Strauss & Co.  It's often said that while not many people got rich off the California Gold Rush20), many people became wealthy from selling supplies to the miners. This type of success is often attributed to21) blue-jeans icon Levi Strauss, although it's not altogether accurate.

  While it's true that Strauss sold products to miners, he arrived in San Francisco well after the peak of the Gold Rush. His real success had more to do with copper than gold. Patenting22) a process he developed with a Reno tailor named Jacob Davis, Strauss began selling "waist overalls" (later known as jeans) fitted with copper rivets23) at the points of strain such as pocket corners and the button fly. The more durable product was a hit with workers in the west, and Strauss' investment in copper soon had him seeing gold.

  Berkshire Hathaway24)—Fabric and Finance

Berkshire Hathaway  Best known as an investment vehicle for financial wizard Warren Buffett25), Berkshire Hathaway has made billions by using the money of insurance policyholders26) to invest in the stock market and acquire other companies.

  But the company's origins can be found not in finance, but rather in fabric. The company traces its roots to a textile manufacturer founded in 1839. With the general decline of the US textile industry after WWI, the company began focusing on investments to stay afloat27). Buffet took over in 1962, and by 1967 he had solidified the company's role in the world of finance.

  Nokia—From Paper to Paperless

Nokia  The Finnish Telecom giant Nokia is known for its cellphones. But considering the company has been around since 1865, it clearly started off28) as something else.

  The first Nokia century began with Fredrik Idestam's paper mill29) on the banks of the Nokianvirta river. Between 1865 and 1967, the company would have become a major industrial force, but it took a merger with a cable company and a rubber firm to set the new Nokia Corporation on the path to electronics.

  eBay —The Broken Laser Pointer
  eBay ——坏掉的激光笔

eBay   Computer programmer Pierre Omidyar started a personal website in 1995. A subsection of the site was used for online auctions30). When something actually sold (a broken laser pointer), Omidyar was so shocked that he reached out to the buyer to see if it was legitimate and to make sure he knew the item was broken. The buyer famously31) inexplicably32) replied, "I'm a collector of broken laser pointers," and eBay was born.
  1995年,计算机编程员皮埃尔·奥米迪亚建立了一个个人网站,网站的一小部分用于在线拍卖。当的确有物品(一根坏掉的激光笔)卖出时,奥米迪亚震惊了,他联系买家,想看看这种行为是否合法以及买家是否知道所购商品是坏的。买家的回答让人极为费解:“我专门收藏坏掉的激光笔。” eBay便由此诞生。

  1. bizarre [bI5zB:(r)] adj. 异乎寻常的;怪诞的
  2. AIG: American International Group Inc.,美国国际集团(世界保险和金融服务的领导者,也是全球首屈一指的国际性保险服务机构)
  3. BP: British Petroleum,英国石油公司(世界上最大的石油和石化集团公司之一)
  4. Halliburton: 美国哈里伯顿公司(世界上主要的能源服务公司之一)
  5. monolithic [7mCnEu5lIWIk] adj. 坚如磐石的;庞大的
  6. shield [Fi:ld] vt. 保护;保卫
  7. liability [7laIE5bIlEtI] n. 责任
  8. all time high: 空前最高纪录
  9. dry [draI] adj. <口> 禁酒的;无酒的
  10. kick-ass [5kIkAs] adj. <美俚> 强大的
  11. Asa Griggs Candler: 阿萨·格里格斯·坎德勒(可口可乐公司的创始人)
  12. franchise [5frAntFaIz] n. (公司或制造商给予的在某一地区经营业务的)特许经销权
  13. blackjack [5blAkdVAk] n. 【牌】21点
  14. run short: 缺少
  15. payroll [5peIrEul] n. 工薪总额,发放工资额(指一定时期的应计或应付工资)
  16. between a rock and a hard place: <美口> 左右为难,进退两难
  17. freight [freIt] n. 货运
  18. hauler [5hC:lE(r)] n. (公路)运输行
  19. Levi Strauss & Co.: 李维·斯特劳斯公司(Levis,著名的牛仔裤品牌)
  20. the California Gold Rush: 加利福尼亚淘金热(1848〜1855),开始于1848年1月24日,当时詹姆斯·W·马歇尔在加利福尼亚州萨克拉曼多的磨坊发现了金子。1855年,加州的金矿业发生了变化,“淘金时代”至此结束。
  21. attribute to: 认为⋯⋯属于
  22. patent [5peItEnt] vt. 得到(发明等)对专利(或特许状)
  23. copper rivet: 紫铜铆钉;铜铆钉
  24. Berkshire Hathaway: 伯克希尔·哈撒韦公司(美国保险公司)
  25. Warren Buffett: 沃伦·巴菲特,全球著名投资商,公认的股神,被誉为当代最成功的投资者。
  26. policyholder [5pClEsI7hEuldE(r)] n. 投保人,保险客户
  27. afloat [E5flEut] adj. 无经济困难的
  28. start off: 开始
  29. paper mill: 造纸厂
  30. auction [5C:kFEn] n. 拍卖
  31. famously [5feImEslI] adv. 非常,十分
  32. inexplicably [In5eksplIkEblI] adv. 无法说明地;费解地,莫名其妙地