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Your Money or Your Site


Blame me for the RAZR's
Its the we all wish we would of thought of this idea guy (Million Dollar Homepage ) and how a group tired to extort money from him.

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 (www.milliondollarhomepage.com). 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.

But the next morning, Tew got a wake-up call from his Web host, Sitelutions: The site was suspiciously slow. Tew blamed heavy traffic – he got more than 800,000 unique visitors on a single day and had earned a page rank of seven on Google (Amazon is a nine). The following afternoon, however, the site crashed. Tew had been hit with a distributed denial of service attack. Sitelutions VP Russell Weiss estimates that more than 23,000 computers were in on the assault. “It was the largest we’d ever seen,” Weiss says. “They unleashed everything they had.”

Tew gulped. “I felt gutted,” he recalls. He had a good idea who “they” were. The week before, he had received an email from Dark Group, hackers who threatened a coordinated strike unless he paid $5,000 by January 10. The message read: “[It’s] not much money, from the news we heard about you and the amount of money you earned via your Web site.”

Tew was being extorted – an experience that is becoming more and more common in cyberspace. A rash of such attacks against gambling sites first swept the Net in 2004. Now, according to a survey by InformationWeek and Carnegie Mellon University, 17 percent of small and midsize businesses report being targeted. But Tew cockily shrugged off the extortionists. He wasn’t some broke kid from the sticks anymore; he was a self-made millionaire man.

The Dark Group called his bluff. “Hello u website is under us attack,” they emailed, with a demand for $50,000. “if u pay we do not ddos u site even again! and u hava a nice life :)” Given his promise to advertisers, an outage could get him sued. That’s when Tew’s entrepreneurial instinct kicked in. He struck a deal with a Web security company, which agreed to protect his site in exchange for a plug in Tew’s blog. The page went live again. The FBI started an investigation.

“Perhaps the attackers have inadvertently done me a favour!” Tew later blogged. Word of the hit had increased his site’s traffic, proving one of the great axioms of business: There’s no such thing as bad PR. The pixelpreneur is now doing speaking engagements, writing an ebook, and developing a TV show about his experience.

- David Kushner
Source Wired


Bow Down to the King
Political User
It's quite pathetic that people don't have anything better to do with their time. I hesitate to say "kids" because I knew plenty of people who are well over 20 that partake in such activities.


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Political User
Wow, good for him. Good to see how smart some people are, and that they won't just lay down at the first site of trouble. Some people would have caved with the aspect of getting sued.

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