Million Dollar Pixels…

Cash pours in for student with $1 million Web idea

Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:49 PM ET

By Peter Graff

LONDON (Reuters) – If you have an envious streak, you probably shouldn’t read this.

Because
chances are, Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from a small town in
England, is cleverer than you. And he is proving it by earning 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, http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com, 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.”

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