The “Million Dollar Homepage”

Wacky advertising project or brilliant idea?

Have you ever heard of the Million Dollar Homepage? Nope? This unusual web project nevertheless caused a lot of ink to flow in the early 2000s.

If the enthusiasm it aroused during its creation has indeed fallen, plunging the site into oblivion, there remains no less an important piece of web history.

But what is it exactly? Development prowess or a web page set with sparkling diamonds? None of that: the basic concept is actually much more rudimentary. Let’s take a look behind the scenes at one of the greatest successes in Internet history.

What is the Million Dollar Homepage

As its name suggests, it is indeed a website, or rather a unique web page worth… a million dollars. At the origin of this project, Alex Tew, a young English student of 21 years, simply wanted to finance his studies when he returned to the University of Nottingham in 2005.

The idea came to him to create a website for one million pixels, where he would sell each pixel for a dollar apiece to advertisers. The owners of these pixels could then use this “space” freely, to place a logo or an advertising message there. For readability reasons (a pixel being really very small), a minimum purchase amount of 100 pixels (or a 10 x 10-pixel square) was set.

When it was launched, did Alex Tew suspect that his project would become a “monument” in the history of the web? Or was he trying a new experience without really believing in it? It would seem that the young entrepreneur was betting on the ability of the Internet to make this kind of concept viral. And he was not mistaken.

How did a wacky project brought over a million to its author?

The success of the Million Dollar Homepage came almost immediately. Indeed, all the pixels were sold within four months of its creation. To support Alex Tew in the launch of his project, the members of his entourage became the buyers of the first pixels.

Once the first 1000 dollars were earned, which was undoubtedly the most difficult, Alex Tew chooses to reinvest this money to attract the attention of the media.

It’s the very principle of the idea, apparently simple and a little crazy, which is enough to seduce the press. She then seized the information and the project began to take on an unsuspected scale.

A few weeks later, Alex Tew was overwhelmed by requests from companies wishing to buy pixels from him and quickly had to surround himself with a small team to help him manage requests from advertisers as well as those from the press.

The pixels sold like hot cakes and the Million Dollar Homepage quickly found itself “out of stock”. When there were only a few pixels left, and to avoid deciding between the proposals received, the young designer decided to put them up for auction on eBay.

The operation ended in January 2006 with objectives more than achieved, as the site generated a total profit of 1,037,100 dollars.

What happened to the Million Dollar Homepage and its creator?

And then? The case falls quickly like a bellows. After all, it has always been the Internet, even in its early days. However, the companies that have invested in the Million Dollar Homepage are far from having been harmed by the operation, since they have all seen their traffic increase, largely thanks to the enthusiasm generated by the project.

Fifteen years later, the site is no longer really active and has many broken links, but still remains visible to the curious or those who wish to admire this “unique piece” created by the Internet machine.

As for Alex Tew, the young visionary who understood how to feed a giant, he finally decided to drop his studies to devote himself fully to his career as an entrepreneur. Not to germinate new absurd ideas intended to ignite the web, but to launch a site and an application dedicated to well-being and meditation, areas that are close to his heart.

As one might expect, dozens of people tried to take inspiration from the Million Dollar Homepage concept to generate buzz in turn, without ever achieving similar success.

The moral of this story is? To make a fortune on the net, it is better to start with a modest, but original idea, rather than to ridiculously recycle the existing one. And as Alex Tew himself concludes: “These kinds of ideas only work once”.

Was indeed the most difficult, Alex Tew chooses to reinvest this money to attract the attention of the media. It’s the very principle of the idea, apparently simple and a little crazy, which is enough to seduce the press. She then seized the information and the project began to take on an unsuspected scale.

A few weeks later

Alex Tew was overwhelmed by requests from companies wishing to buy pixels from him and quickly had to surround himself with a small team to help him manage requests from advertisers as well as those from the press. The pixels sold like hot cakes and the Million Dollar Homepage quickly found itself “out of stock”. When there were only a few pixels left, and to avoid deciding between the proposals received, the young designer decided to put them up for auction on eBay. The operation ended in January 2006 with objectives more than achieved, as the site generated a total profit of 1,037,100 dollars.

What happened to the Million Dollar Homepage and its creator?

And then? The case falls quickly like a bellows. After all, it has always been the Internet, even in its early days. However, the companies that have invested in the Million Dollar Homepage are far from having been harmed by the operation, since they have all seen their traffic increase, largely thanks to the enthusiasm generated by the project.

Fifteen years later, the site is no longer active and has many broken links, but remains visible to the curious or those who wish to admire this “unique piece” created by the Internet machine.

As for Alex Tew, the young visionary who understood how to feed a giant, he finally decided to drop his studies to devote himself fully to his career as an entrepreneur. Not to germinate new absurd ideas intended to ignite the web, but to launch a site and an application dedicated to well-being and meditation, areas that are close to his heart.

As one might expect, dozens of people tried to take inspiration from the Million Dollar Homepage concept to generate buzz in turn, without ever achieving similar success. The moral of this story is? To make a fortune on the net, it is better to start with a modest, but original idea, rather than to ridiculously recycle the existing one. And as Alex Tew himself concludes: “These kinds of ideas only work once”.

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