The man behind the million-dollar homepage

The man behind the million-dollar homepage

Alex Tew's get-rich-quick scheme led him on a meditative journey worth millions.

Alex Tew isn't really known for following the crowd. His mantra has always been to see what everyone else is focusing on and to do the opposite.

In 2005, Tew was obsessed with one thing: making money, enough to pay his way through a three-year business management course at Nottingham University.

For most young people, that would mean taking on a part-time job or going to the bank.

But not for Tew, a 21-year-old budding entrepreneur from Wiltshire, England, who created the Million Dollar Homepage and peddled internet advertising space on it at $1 a pixel in 10 by 10 blocks.

Tew says there were good reasons for choosing dollars over pounds: since dollars are "the closest thing to a universal currency," he thought it would resonate better, reaching one million pounds would have been a lot harder (the British pound averaged $1.82 in 2005), and "it just sounded better" to him.

"Everyone knows the phrase, 'You look like a million dollars.'"

"I had literally no money, and I was worried about university," he says. "I just brainstormed this kind of crazy, get-rich-quick scheme that then took on a life of its own."

In four months' time, word of the page had gone viral and it sold out. Tew had achieved success, fame - and his first million. And he dropped out of university that December.

Advertisers ranged from The Times to Beer.com and online casinos. Tew says he wasn't targeting any advertisers in particular, really just "anyone who wanted to buy pixels".

He also attracted a lot of envy. The main idea of the Million Dollar Homepage (selling pixels) was something anyone could have done.

But Tew was the first to do it, which left a lot of people wondering why they didn't think of it first.

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