Thursday, December 29, 2005

University Student Creates Online Times Square

A University business student from England, Alex Tew, has just handed Internet Marketers their lunch. As a money making scheme to earn money for school, he created a website, The Million Dollar Homepage, where he sells pixel dots for a buck each. That may not sound like much but it takes a 10 by 10 dot square to make up a letter for $100 smackaroos. Needless to say, most people want more than just one letter. Even though most of the ads are for UK companies, at least they are linked to something. Below is what this concept looks like in action.

Million Dollar Homepage - Alex Tew
There are 3 very cool things about this set up
  • The site looks like a virtual Times Square at Night
  • He was smart enough to do a press release when he reached $1000 instead of just keeping the bragging rights to himself
  • Alex is getting job offers and attention from investors, even though he's the equivalent to a first term college freshman.
I'd say the money spent on his schooling was well invested.

New York Times Square at Night

Time Square at Night (New Years Eve 2004)

Here's the gist of the Reuters article from Yahoo! News. I left out the snotty comments because there's no point in having them in. I'm interested in the young man's story, not how cute the writer thinks he is.

Cash pours in for UK student with Web idea

By Peter Graff

Thu Dec 29,11:04 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters)

Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from a small town in England, earned a cool million dollars in four months on the Internet.

Selling porn? Dealing prescription drugs? Nope. All he sells are pixels, the tiny dots on the screen that appear when you call up his home page.

He had the brainstorm for his million dollar home page, called, logically enough,, while lying in bed thinking out how he would pay for university.

The idea: turn his home page into a billboard made up of a million dots, and sell them for a dollar a dot to anyone who wants to put up their logo. A 10 by 10 dot square, roughly the size of a letter of type, costs $100.

He sold a few to his brothers and some friends, and when he had made $1,000, he issued a press release.

That was picked up by the news media, spread around the Internet, and soon advertisers for everything from dating sites to casinos to real estate agents to The Times of London were putting up real cash for pixels, with links to their own sites.

So far they have bought up 911,800 pixels. Tew's home page now looks like an online Times Square, festooned with a multi-colored confetti of ads.

"All the money's kind of sitting in a bank account," Tew told Reuters from his home in Wiltshire, southwest England. "I've treated myself to a car. I've only just passed my driving test so I've bought myself a little black mini."

The site features testimonials from advertisers, some of whom bought spots as a lark, only to discover that they were receiving actual valuable Web hits for a fraction of the cost of traditional Internet advertising.

Meanwhile Tew has had to juggle running the site with his first term at university, where he is studying business.

"It's been quite a difficulty trying to balance going to lectures and doing the site," he said.

But he may not have to study for long. Job offers have been coming in from Internet companies impressed by a young man who managed to figure out an original way to make money online.

"I didn't expect it to happen like that," Tew said. "To have the job offers and approaches from investors -- the whole thing is kind of surreal. I'm still in a state of disbelief."

Alex Tew September 2005

Alex Tew with Million Dollar Homepage in September 2005. Courtesy of David Burn's article Pixel Pusher Rakes It In. Of course the copiers and bandwagon jumpers have already started.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Media Mogul Oprah Winfrey Opens The Color Purple on Broadway

I'm glad Oprah decided to move on from her percieved slight. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a successful run for her play on Broadway. God knows she needs the money. ; ]

Oprah Winfrey

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey arrives to the opening night of her new Broadway play 'The Color Purple' , Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005, in New York.

Oprah Winfrey

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, right, hugs actress Angela Bassett as they arrive to the opening night of Winfrey's new Broadway play 'The Color Purple' on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005, in New York. I wonder if Angela committed a faux pas by wearing purple/lavender.

Oprah Winfrey

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, left, is escorted by fellow talk show host David Letterman to the opening night of Winfrey's Broadway play 'The Color Purple' on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005, in New York.