Founder of the Million Dollar Homepage Should Send a Royalty Check To and Its Members

Published: 14th January 2006
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The phenomena of Alex Tew and the pixel site,, could be attributed in large part to what many call "The Digg Effect." If you are heavily involved in the tech world, you probably know what that means. If not, here is a brief primer. is a new media site where the members post and vote on unique stories that they find on the Internet. The site itself is about a year old but already has close to 100,000 members, and it is visited by over a million people each day to get their daily dose of unique news.

The Digg Effect occurs when a particular story gains enough votes (members deem the story as newsworthy through voting) and is promoted to the homepage. When this happens, look out. If an article moves up to the Digg homepage, it can cause tens of thousands of visitors to arrive at the Web site where the original article or news account was posted. The Digg Effect has been known to crash Web sites within hours of story being posted on Digg.

Now, how does this apply to Alex Tew, and the Tew created an odd looking site that sold pixels, which are about the size of a period, for a dollar a piece. His goal was to raise enough money to pay for college. After selling a small number of pixels to friends and some companies he knew, Alex paid for a press release to be distributed. Lucky for Alex, a Digger (a term used for a member) posted the press release on Within hours the story was promoted on the homepage of, and Tew's site was flooded by an estimated 40,000 visitors during the ensuing hours.

If this was the end of the story, Alex probably would not have sold all one million pixels in less than five months. This story then took a twist that sealed Tew's fate and paved the way for his ultimate success.

Here's how it happens. If a Web site is relatively new, like Alex Tew's site was, The Digg Effect can have far reaching results because of the policies of another site owned by called Alexa. Currently, there are over 10 million people who have downloaded the Alexa tool bar which assists the site in ranking Web sites across the globe in terms of Web site traffic. The Alexa homepage also has a section within it aptly called "Movers and Shakers" which catalogs the five Web sites that have the most traffic growth worldwide.

When was deluged with tens of thousands of visitors from, during the second week of September 2005, the site flew up the Alexa rankings and subsequently reached the "Movers and Shakers" section on Alexa's homepage. This exposed the to literally millions of eyeballs who visit Alexa each day.

A careful analysis was done to determine "who" the advertisers were who initially bought pixels from Tew's site. The answer was quite revelatory. Many of the advertisers were tech related companies, who matched the profile of many and Alexa members. Many of the initial advertisers were also bloggers who also match the demographics of and Alexa.

Once Tew's site reached $50,000 to $60,000 in sales, just after the The Digg Effect took place, the mainstream media published the story and took care of the rest of Milliondollarhomepages's free advertising needs. As is the case with many unique stories, follow up articles were quickly published.

Just as writers should include attribution for the work of other writers in their own published works if included in a given piece, it would be nice if Alex Tew were to at least acknowledge the contribution of the Digg members who set off the series of events that have enriched him. Try as we might, we never found any discussion of The Digg Effect nor the roll Alexa played in the success of Tew's site in any article or news show where Tew was interviewed.

The place that luck and timing takes in the success of certain businesses and people's lives cannot be underestimated. Did Alex develop his strategy knowing that some Digger would post his press release on this democratic media site? Did he envision what would happen with Alexa soon thereafter? If he did, then we can truly call Tew's accomplishment a work of genius. If not, maybe he should take a moment and say thanks to the world of Perhaps he isn't even aware of the events described above, and how they shaped his life. Maybe some enterprising reporter should ask.

Drew Graef

Contributing Writer

Press Direct International

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