Introducing Slate’s Special Series About the Small Starts of Big Businesses

The origins of American success stories.
Oct. 13 2013 11:45 PM

Billion Dollar Babies

Introducing Slate’s special series about the early days of iconic companies.


Siri Stafford

Behind every big business—every Starbucks, every Google, every Procter & Gamble—there was a small startup. These origin stories can make for irresistible reading, judging by two of the fall’s most anticipated nonfiction books, Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (out this week) and Nick Bilton’s Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal (out next month). It’s hard to imagine any corporate behemoth as a new kid on the block, but this Slate series will do just that: Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll look back at the beginnings of some of America’s great companies and zero in on the pivotal moments when a promising little venture transformed into an unstoppable triumph.

Slate’s Future Tense lead blogger Will Oremus starts off by examining how Google’s founding duo landed on the idea that guided them to massive profitability. Moneybox columnist Matthew Yglesias will disclose the real secret of KFC’s success—turns out it had not much to do with 11 herbs and spices. Slate managing editor Rachael Larimore will analyze the brilliant alchemy of ruthless capitalism and kind-hearted humanism that made Starbucks into the world’s caffeine supplier. We’ll also revisit the creation myths of Victoria’s Secret, the Gap, organic-food pioneers Annie’s Homegrown, and more. We hope you’ll join us in retracing the baby steps of some of the most powerful companies on the planet.

Jessica Winter is a Slate senior editor.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.