Monday, June 05, 2006

Your Money or Your Site

Wired 14.06: Posts: "Some kids are good at skateboarding or playing guitar. Alex Tew has a knack for making money. When his UK high school banned water bottles on the soccer practice field, he sold swigs for 50 pence a pop, taking home a quick 8 quid in one day. After competing in a human-beat-box contest, he peddled a $30 DVD of the event and unloaded 500 of them online in 18 months. Then one night last summer, the 22-year-old devised his most outrageous scheme yet: selling pixels. “My mum thought it was a cool idea,” Tew recalls with a chuckle. “But she wasn’t convinced.”

Last August, Tew launched the Million Dollar Homepage ( The plan was to cram thousands of tiny banner ads onto a single page by selling a million pixels for $1 each, with a 100-pixel minimum (that’s about the size of a sesame seed). In return, Tew committed to keep the ads up for five years. He sold the first 400 pixels to a beat-boxing friend who wanted to plug his Web site. He unloaded another chunk on his brother, who used it to promote his go-cart business.

News of the site spread quickly, fueling traffic and demand. Japanese dating companies and toy train dealers gobbled up space. Within two weeks, Tew had earned enough to pay for three years of college. By September, he had pocketed $200,000. On January 11, he auctioned off his remaining 1,000 pixels on eBay, pushing his total earnings to $1,037,100. “I took a deep breath and thought, ‘Job done,’” Tew says."

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