Debunking The Creation Myths Behind 5 Huge Companies

It might be shocking to you to find out that some companies have lied about their own creation, but hey, who doesn’t like a good story? From eBay to YouTube, tall tales have been spun to consumers for various reasons. Let’s take a walk down liars’ memory lane, shall we?

CNNMoney brings the sometimes boring truth to light with the story of five big businesses who, shall we say, have somewhat embellished stories about how they came into existence.

The story: eBay employee Mary Lou Song told reporters that founder Pierre Omidyar needed a way to find more Pez dispensers for his fiancee, who collected them.

The truth: “Nobody wants to hear about a thirty-year-old genius who wanted to create a perfect market,” Song says, according to Adam Cohen’s book The Perfect Store: Inside eBay. “They want to hear that he did it for his fiancée.” In reality, Omidyar posted a broken laser pointer for sale on a whim and sold it for $14. He then decided to turn his hobby of selling stuff into a business.

The story: The popular video website was said to have been started at a dinner party thrown by co-founder Steve Chen in San Francisco. He and his pal shot videos and had nowhere to post them, so they just started a site.

The truth:
The third YouTube co-founder, Jawed Karim, debunks that story, saying the party never happened. And oh yeah, online video sharing? He claims it was his idea. Chen still says the party happened, but did admit to Time that the story “was probably very strengthened by marketing ideas around creating a story that was very digestible.”

The story: Howard Schultz writes in his autobiography, Pour Your Heart Into It, that he picked the mermaid after “[Co-founder Terry Heckler] pored over old marine books until he came up with a logo based on an old sixteenth-century Norse woodcut.”

The truth: There were no Norse people in the 16th century! Instead, the image was probably taken from a 15th-century German drawing of the serpent-fairy Melusine from a book published in 1971.

The story: Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in a Menlo Park garage.
The truth: Google already had $1 million in start-up capital by the time they moved to the garage, which they did to honor Hewlett-Packard’s humble start, as well as help a pal who needed the rent money for her mortgage.

The story: We’ve seen the movie about this one! In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg is sooo mad at a girlfriend who dumps him that he gets drunk and creates a site to rate hot girls at Harvard. Boom, Facebook!

The truth: The girl Zuckerberg was so ticked off at probably wasn’t even his girlfriend, and FaceMash was inspired by Hot or Not. The idea of Facebook was based off Friendster, says Zuckerberg.

The truth hurts, doesn’t it?

Startup lies companies tell you [CNNmoney]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.