The Million Dollar Homepage was unavailable for an extended period early today, as huge publicity accompanied the completion of Alex Tew's novel online advertising service. Tew, a 21-year-old UK college student, sold the final 1,000 pixels for $38,100 in an eBay auction that closed Wednesday, netting Tew a total of $1,037,100 in total ad sales. The winner of the auction has not yet been announced. Tew launched the site in September to pay his college expenses, offering 1 million pixels of ad space at $1 a pixel.
The gimmick has paid off in huge web traffic. Milliondollarhomepage.com has received up to 500,000 unique visitors per day, and uses up to 200 megabits per second of Internet bandwidth, according to its host, Sitelutions. The Million Dollar Homepage is scheduled to remain online for five years, and appears to now be back online after several hours of downtime, which can be seen in this performance chart:
A dynamically updating performance chart is available for milliondollarhomepage.com. Netcraft offers a web site performance monitoring service that provides similar charts, along with e-mail alerts when an outage occurs.
Sitelutions is operated by InfoRelay Online Systems, an Englishtown, N.J. hosting company, which Tew has praised for its performance. "They have given me an unbelievable level of support and ensured that the site has stayed online despite the millions of visitors," Tew wrote in his weblog. Sitelutions offers a 99.999% network uptime guarantee, and says it donates 10 percent of its profits to charities chosen by its users.
Milliondollarhomepage.com has been a boost to other web hosting companies as well. Globat bought 5,100 pixels, linking them to a special promotion that the company said has been a big success. "We gained tremendous exposure and also sent a message to young entrepreneurs worldwide that creativity and ingenuity will always capture the interest of progressive companies such as Globat," said Ben Neumann, president and CEO of Globat. " In Alex I saw the purest form of entrepreneurship. He set a high goal and succeeded."
Tew's success has sparked the launch of dozens of copycat "pixel advertising" sites, including several that bought advertising on milliondollarhomepage.com.