4 Websites That Started as One Thing, But Now They're Another

The Internet is such a constant in everyday life that it's hard to believe how far we've come in the past decade. Computers are faster, code is different, and we're accessing the web from more devices now than ever before. It's not surprising that websites have changed over time - but you might be surprised at just how different some of your favourite sites are from when they started!

Here are four sites that have undergone a pretty shocking transformation:

Amazon

In 1994, Jeff Bezos was watching the start of the internet revolution from his job on Wall Street when he made the life-changing decision to quit his job and start an internet company. He made a list of the "top 20" products that would sell well on the internet and the rest was history.

When Bezos launched Amazon, the company focused on books. Today, Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world. The company is currently worth $476 billion and is the second largest employer in the United States. Far from its humble beginning in Bezos' garage, Amazon now sells just about everything imaginable via their online catalogue in addition to facilitating sales for millions of third-party businesses.

YouTube

"Just Youtube it." What's your go-to site for watching and sharing videos? It's an app on your phone; it's an embedded feature in most websites; and it's it's own standalone platform. But before it became a permanent fixture in your bookmarks, YouTube was, believe it or not, supposed to be a dating site!

You heard it here first - YouTube was originally designed as a video version of the now defunct HOTorNOT.com. But when the creators saw the original content being uploaded and shared by their users, they knew the potential was too great to be limited to a dating site and developed the open platform video-sharing website we know and love today.

Facebook

Mark Zuckerburg probably never dreamed that he would become a household name when he created "thefacebook," to help fellow Harvard students connect with each other online. The network subsequently expanded to most US colleges but required a valid university email to join. In 2006, membership was opened to anyone, and Facebook quickly overtook MySpace in social media supremacy.

Facebook remains the most popular social media website online. It's a primary source of news for 44% of the population with an average of 1.18 billion daily users. Its traffic is unmatched by most sites on the Internet and it's unlikely you know someone that doesn't have at least one account.

Instagram

Invented by Kevin Systrom and Mike Kriger, Instagram was meant to be an iPhone-only app called Burbn. The original concept combined ideas from FourSquare and the popular Facebook game, Mafia Wars. Users would be able to check-in to locations, make plans for future check-ins, earn points, and share pictures. Systrom and Kriger quickly realized that these multiple uses made the new iPhone screens appear cluttered, and noting the advancing technology in phone cameras, they narrowed their focus to an image sharing service.

Today, only seven short years later, the application they created has over 800 million active monthly users continues and helps drive the growth of smartphone photography technology.

What will your company look like in 20 years?

These four examples demonstrate how quickly technology is changing and how businesses can adapt and grow along with it. Maybe your original idea isn't going the way you had hoped, or maybe you'd like to expand exponentially over the next five years - either way, you can ride the wave of advancing technology, or drown in it.

The lesson we can learn from these successful companies is that it's perfectly acceptable for your original idea to evolve in response to questions like, "Where is technology leading us?" "What is working - and what isn't?" Change your vision is never easy, but with hard work and a little creativity, there's no limit to where your business and website can go.

Feeling inspired? Give us a call and we can help you reach you shape your before-and-after.