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Q&A: Nike 'swoosh' was 'least awful' choice

Nike footwear with the famous swoosh logo debuted at the 1972 U.S. Track & Field Trials.

Times files

Nike footwear with the famous swoosh logo debuted at the 1972 U.S. Track & Field Trials.

Swoosh was least 'awful design'

Can you give us a history of Nike and how the "swoosh" became associated with it? Is most of Nike equipment manufactured in China or other countries? Do leagues have contracts with Nike or individual teams?

Bill Bowerman, the track coach at the University of Oregon, and Phil Knight, a runner who graduated from Oregon and earned his MBA from Stanford, formed Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 and began selling Tiger running shoes made by Japan's Onitsuka Co.

Bowerman took apart the shoes to see how he could improve them and began testing them on his runners. They brought in Jeff Johnson, who came up with the name Nike in 1971, and designed several early shoes. Portland State student Carolyn Davidson was hired to do design work and came up with several "stripes" for the shoes. They picked the one "which was the least awful," Davidson told in 2011, and it became the familiar swoosh.

The new footwear, with the swoosh, debuted at the 1972 U.S. Track & Field Trials, where it was a hit. Bowerman died in 1999, and Knight is the chairman of the board of the directors for Nike.

Most Nike shoes and apparel are made in China, Vietnam and Indonesia, The Oregonian in Portland reported last year.

Some leagues, like the NFL, have exclusive contracts with Nike. The company replaced Reebok as the NFL's supplier for licensed on-field apparel before the 2012 season. Nike also has deals with the athletic departments of many universities and colleges, and supplies uniforms and apparel to those schools.

Craigslist's revenue sources

I have often wondered how Craigslist makes money. To my knowledge there is no charge to sell or buy items and there are no popup ads on its site.

According to a company Q&A on the Craigslist website (, the company, which provides classified ads and forums, makes money through "posting fees for jobs in 28 metro areas, brokered New York City apartments, and therapeutic services in the United States."

As amazing as the numbers are surrounding Craigslist (an estimated 60 million people use the site each month in the United States, with 50 billion page views a month, more than 100 million classified ads are posted each month, and more than 2 million new jobs listings each month), there isn't a lot of overhead to the company, which was founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark.

It has just over 30 employees at its headquarters in San Francisco and runs almost exclusively on open-source software which, CEO Jim Buckmaster told Forbes magazine, is "free and progressively better every month." Other expenses include maintaining computer servers, and paying for computer bandwidth and the electric bill. It also donates millions of dollars annually to charities through its Craigslist Charitable Fund.

Q&A: Nike 'swoosh' was 'least awful' choice 05/13/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 9, 2013 1:25pm]
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