If IMDb.com had a last name, it would be ‘unassuming.’

That can be a bit surprising when you consider that IMDb (short for ‘Internet Movie Database’) is the world’s most authoritative website/resource for all things movies. ‘Hollywood’ and ‘unassuming’ don’t often go together, right?

IMDb is also one of the most popular websites. On Earth. Period.

Surprised? You’re not alone.

And we’re not yet done. :)

IMDb is also one of the best sources of revenue for one of the biggest companies on Earth: Amazon.com.

If you’re still with me, let’s take a step back to see how IMDb’s remarkable story began.

IMDb.com was started in October of 1990 by a guy named Col Needham. He single-handedly started what we now know as IMDb. In rural England. Not Sillicon Valley. (To this day, Col still lives and works on IMDb from England.)

How passionate do you think Col Needham was about all things movies? Let’s put it this way: Describing his interest in all things movies with the word ‘passion’ is like saying that Mount Everest is a decent-sized hill.

Despite his larger-than-life love of IMDb and the movies, back in 1990 IMDb was just a tiny seed. Cal planted and nurtured it for many years.

Fast forward a few years, and IMDd was finally a small but fruit-bearing tree with a tiny and growing fan base.

Then, after 9 short years or so smile emoticon, things dramatically changed for IMDb. Overnight. “What happened?” The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, decide to buy IMDb in 1999.

IMDb was one of the first acquisitions Amazon made. Many were scratching their heads when Bezos purchased the site.

IMDb was, and still is, basically a well-curated FAQ website/resources for all things movies. Folks go there to settle arguments like, “Keanu Reeves was originally offered the role of Pvt. Chris Taylor in Platoon? No way!”

“Why did Jeff Bezos buy it, then?”

Because Jeff Bezos believed: a. in Internetting long before the rest of us, b. that the steps on the path to purchase were moving online (slowly but almost entirely), and, c. that helpful content along the path to purchase is the oxygen of decision making.

Today, IMDb provides millions of front doors into Amazon’s streaming video store and DVD business. Not too shabby for a FAQ website started by a single person, eh?

Let’s wrap this up.

Takeaway #1: Helpful content is the oxygen of decision making. Having a well-curated FAQ website can help supply the content-oxygen people need to breathe along the path to purchase.

Takeaway #2: One of IMDb’s secrets is that it is the world’s most authoritative website/resource for all things movies. Full stop.

Listen, IMDb was not what it is now in its first or second year. But if you think that you can put up a half-assed FAQ website about Pokemon or you-name-it and get a lot of attention, think again.

Takeaway #3: Believe in seeds. Consider planting a tree. If not today, then soon. Water it. Care for it. Great entrepreneurs, like originals in all walks of life, believe in seeds. They plant trees, too. Even if it’s unclear if they’ll ever sit in their shade.