8 businesses that transformed into what they are now

The tech giant Samsung has taken on Apple in the smartphone industry.

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By: Adam Courtenay

It’s difficult to believe that PayPal, Google and Facebook were once naïve start-ups, with no concept of how they could be monetised. PayPal actually started as a cryptography company and only later became a payment system. The Google of 1998 looks very different from the entity we know today, and Facebook, as many know, was started by college students as a kind of secret society. When Mark Zuckerberg realised that Facebook could be used to market services and items to anyone with an email address over the age of 13, the business dynamics began to change.

What the people behind these companies have in common is that they saw the changes needed to make the businesses work – and acted on them. The following eight companies have morphed from having one product or idea to something completely different. They are the corporate changelings that evolved successfully as the zeitgeist required.

1. Samsung

The Korean electronics and mobile phone giant started by Byung-Chull Lee in 1938 used to export dried Korean fish, vegetables and fruit to Manchuria and Beijing. It then moved into flour mills and confectionery machines, followed by textiles and life insurance. Samsung didn’t get into electronics until the late 1960s, producing its first black-and-white television set in 1970. The high-tech side did not become highly profitable until the 1980s, when the company began to export computers, VCRs and tape recorders globally. By the 1990s, Samsung was focusing on memory and hard drives for computers. Nowadays it is most famous for its Android phones and tablets, and digital televisions.