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Zappos prefers to think of itself as a customer-service company that happens to sell shoes and handbags online. LOTS of shoes and handbags. Since its founding in 1999, Zappos has grown to 1,000 employees - and its website now carries over 1,000 name brands, over 150,000 styles, and nearly 3 million products in stock and ready for immediate shipment. In its earliest start-up days, the company needed to properly balance their enterprise database requirements with the realities of a not-so-limitless IT budget. After evaluating several open source alternatives, they selected MySQL because it was the most robust, affordable database software available at the time.