Making a million dot com

Making a million dot com - 31st December 2005
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald - The Guardian)

A first year university student selling tiny chunks of advertising space on a website is on the brink of making $US1 million ($1.36 million).

Alex Tew, 21, of Wiltshire, England, sold the first spot on his Million Dollar Homepage at the end of August. Four months on, the idea has taken the internet by storm and is attracting the attention of big business.

The concept came to Mr Tew one night as he mulled over how to get through university without amassing huge debts.

Like all great ideas, it is simple. The homepage is divided into 10,000 boxes, each made up of 100 pixels, or tiny dots. Companies or individuals are invited to buy one or more box for $US100 each - $1 a pixel - and fill it with a logo. Visitors to the site who click on a logo are taken to that company or individual's website.

Mr Tew planned to try to sell the million pixels, earning himself $US1 million, during his three years at university, where he is studying business management.

In the first few days he sold a few hundred pixels, mainly to friends and relatives, but within weeks the site was a huge talking point on the internet. A range of businesses, from an international phone company to small businesses offering dating services or computer games, signed up.

Many companies which only signed up for a bit of fun have been amazed at how many people have been directed to their businesses from the site.

Mr Tew was feted when he went on tour in the US, and hundreds of imitation sites have sprung up. He is now on course to reach his million dollar mark in early January. He wrote in his blog yesterday that the response to his idea had been overwhelming.

"Things have gone absolutely ballistic!" he wrote. "There has been a massive upsurge in interest and traffic to the site as a result of one of the world's biggest news agencies, Reuters, picking up the story about my site."

"Right now, as I type, 25,000 unique visitors are hitting the site every single hour. That means a projected 600,000 unique visitors by the end of Friday. Wow!"

But Mr Tew has not been tempted to fritter away his newly-acquired fortune. His only luxury so far has been a new Mini. "The site's success is a real testament to the massive power of the internet," he said.


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Student's million dollar website idea - 30th December 2005


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