In 2005, Alex Tew created milliondollarhomepage.com, a website of 1 million advertising pixels for $1 each. After hustling on his first sales, he sold enough units to hire a PR firm and a few months later he was a millionaire.
He reached the Internet side-hustler's ideal state: a finished project.
...but not in everyone's mind.
Since its creation there have been 28 projects inspired by the original, of which 9 are still active (you can publish on them).
In 2006, The Washington Post reported "thousands of spinoffs", but I was able to find 28.
Even Mr Tew couldn't resist the temptation to copy himself. As you'll read below, first on the year after his initial stardom and again ten years later.
This article will discuss each of these spinoffs, report a status on them as determined by any information I could glean from the Wayback Machine.
My evaluation criteria was simple. The project had to...
Of course this analysis isn't perfect but if you enjoy it, try promoting your favorite thing on my own spinoff.
Launched: 2021, Death: N/A, Status: Active, Percent Complete: 1.1% (929/86400)
In 2021, I launched a spiritual successor to the milliondollarhomepage by substituting pixels for seconds of the day. Instead of 1 million pixels, users have 86,400 seconds to choose from. Unlike other projects, mine has a free tier and is fun way to promote yourself.
It's been a great side-project and a tactical idea to force me to "learn marketing".
Selling seconds of the clock. That's the ticket. ⏰
Apart from my project, this is my favorite spin-off. The author went for a base hit and didn't disappoint. Selling 10K units at $1 each, they were able to get some attention of the press. How did the project get off the ground? Who knows? At the time of writing, the site is not accepting new sales. An email is listed if you want to learn more from its author. No reply to my ping.
Launched: 2005, Death: 2020 (latest), Status: Shutdown (revived several times), Percent Complete: 100% (10000/10000), Pricing: $0.01/pixel
This is interesting. Another base hit project but the creator appears to have re-deployed the same site several times on the domain since the first launch. In later (2010+) FAQs found on the domain, the creator explains that purchases have a TTL. That makes this project less exciting to me.
Launched: 2005, Death: 2007, Status: Shutdown, Percent Complete: ~30% (3000/10000), Pricing: $0.01/pixel
Sex sells. Or it tries to. At this site you paid $0.01 to cover up a naked woman one pixel at a time.
Another pixel project with max payout of $10K. This site got some "press" but fizzled shortly after. As a nice bonus, the most recent customer purchase would appear in the middle of the screen as the "featured" advertisement.
Here's an interesting take. A low-fi virtual city where customers bought plots of land at different price packages. There was some lotto where customers had a chance to win $1M. Whether Alex Tew knew about this or not on his second venture is unclear, but this is the earliest implementation of these pixel farms giving a prize back to customers.
Launched: 2006, Death: 2008, Status: Shutdown, Percent Complete: 15.3% (153000/1000000), Pricing: $2/pixel
You aren't supposed to double dip the chip! Alex Tew's second venture into pixel advertising wasn't as materially successful as the milliondollarhomepage but gave away some of the proceeds to registered viewers of the site. $306K in total with $153K raffled off to a K. Moguche of Kenya
Launched: 2015, Death: N/A, Status: Active, Percent Complete: 0% (0/1000000000), Pricing: $0.25/pixel
A strange artifact if you ask me. Snapshots from the Wayback machine show a basically defunct site since 2015. Pixels are $0.25 each but no measurable activity on the project. It might be a photo finish though...the project is set to expire on October 2024.
Launched: 2023, Death: N/A, Status: Active, Percent Complete: 0.0004% (4200/1024000000), Pricing: $0.10/pixel and up
Lose the "the". This site renders a paginated version of the standard concept. Variable pricing per pixel starting at $0.10 / pixel. Maybe we'll see an updated version of this in 3D-cube format soon?
What a great looking project. Launched in 2020, you buy ad space on one of 500 virtual buildings in a glowing, cyberpunk city. Hard to tell how many ads have been sold but if you're the author, hit me up!
This is fascinating. Launched in 2005, closed in 2006. Squatted on for several years. Relaunched and redesigned in 2012. Closed in 2020. Squatted on again then relaunched to its current implementation. None of the implementations appear to have many if any sales.
It's a bold strategy. Instead of many pixels to fight over, you fight over one in a public auction. In its history, there were two auctions on the site. The first sold for $34.33 and the second for $710.00. The sites of both auction winners are now expired. Commendable the owner has kept the project alive as long as they have without more auctions.
Launched: 2017, Death: N/A, Status: Active, Percent Complete: 100% (1000000/1000000), Pricing: 0.001 ETH / pixel
One of the few completed spinoffs, this project sold ad space on the standard million pixel grid at 0.001 ETH / pixel. Later, units sold could be converted to NFTs. A beautifully executed project and all tracked in public github repos. Since the project is a smart contract, you can continue to trade published ads in perpetuity. Assuming $1800 USD/ETH, the authors have net over $1.8M USD. Not too shabby!
Similar to the original idea but with some gamification elements added. Tiered pricing with every 10% sold. Reselling is allowed and games are unlocked as more of the world buys the product. In-App purchases mean Apple is taking a cut and the developer pays yearly dues. If you're the creator, I'd love to hear how your sales are going. Hit me up!
Launched earlier this year and still in its nascency, the site looks similar to other cryptocurrency variants. It's unclear if unit prices are fixed (like Thousand Ether Homepage) and how many units have been sold. No links found on any of the units visible. Supports gifs though.
Started by Graham Langdon this site sold wiki pages on a word of the customer's choosing for $100. Each customer controlled the content of the page so this doesn't really count as a "wiki". Early (expensive) web hosting. Graham sold over 1200 pages but its unclear if he intended to cap the number of pages to 10K.
Launched: 2021, Death: N/A, Status: Read-only, Percent Complete: 17% (358/2000), Pricing: 0.01ETH/ad
An ethereum-based cryptocurrency spin-off. The is performant and appears active but the site failed when I attempted to mint a free spot. The project looks great and is a great example of side-product marketing by the TokenPage team. Kudos to them!
I can't find much about this one. Some chatter on twitter but nothing descriptive about pricing. From their twitter account, you bought land on a map of the world.
Launched: 2005, Death: 2009, Status: Shutdown, Percent Complete: 26.7% (133600/500000), Pricing: $0.30/pixel
This site quickly tried to undercut the success of the original. Half of the pixels on the site were free and the other have were $0.30/pixel. A possible net of $150K by the close of the project sold $40K worth of pixels. Cool.
Launched: 2008, Death: 2019, Status: Shutdown, Percent Complete: 93.6% (936400/1000000), Pricing: $0.000033/pixel
Started as a joke project, the author made a spinoff based on the—at the time—hyper volatile ZWN. Pegged at $0.000033/pixel the site is filled with bigger advertisements than the other spinoffs. The author sold about $31 worth of ads and kept the site up for over a decade.
A free spinoff. No sales generated. To get on the site you would email the owner...nay, webmaster...who would decide if your ad was good enough to be on the project. Also the site was 760x760 pixels for some reason.
Launched: 2011, Death: 2014, Status: Shutdown, Percent Complete: ???, Pricing: 0.01 BTC / day / pixel
A great example of the brutal honesty of online commentary. Not much stored in Wayback but from what hackernews commentary says it seems like a clone. Maybe just for "startups"?
Launched: 2021, Death: 2023, Status: Shutdown, Percent Complete: ???, Pricing: $1/pixel (+ gas fees)
Same idea as the original but with a five-times taller a pixel canvas. A few sales made it seems. Hey Varun Aggarwal, let us know how you marketed this!
Activity on this one may have died off after its creator sold his NFT collection, but the idea is the same. Variable priced units on the grid, paid for in ETH.
Launched: 2023, Death: N/A, Status: Active, Percent Complete: ~1%, Pricing: $30/square (ongoing sale)
Simon (aka @socodemaker) hit me up about his fun spinoff. Similar to the TenThousandDollarHomepage, his variant sells a smaller amount of pixels at a easier price point. The center pixel is also the most coveted pixel and will be sold at auction. Go Simon!
These sites don't exactly match my selection criteria above, but are similar enough to talk about.
The spinoff projects that die do so after about 3.5 years. If you're considering launching a spinoff I hope this post was helpful. Do you take the fast exit approach like TenThousandDollarHomepage or are you accounting for it to be up in perpituity like 24HourHomepage?
If I missed or misrepresented any projects on this post, don't be shy in telling me! ✌️