The Million Dollar Homepage is a website conceived by Alex Tew, a then 21-year-old student from Cricklade, Wiltshire, England to help raise money for his university education. Launched on August 26, 2005, the website is said to have generated a gross income of $1,037,100 USD and has a current Google PageRank of 4a. The site's Alexa ranking as of 2008-05-08 is 50,101, having peaked at around 127.
The index page of the site consists of a 1000×1000 pixel grid (one million pixels), on which image-based links were sold for US $1 per pixel, in minimum ten by ten blocks. The purchasers of these pixel blocks provided tiny images to be displayed on them, a URL to which they were linked, and a slogan displayed when hovering the cursor over the link. The aim of the site was to sell all of the pixels in the image, thus generating one million dollars of income for the creator.
On January 1, 2006, the final 1,000 pixels left were put up for auction on eBay. The auction closed on January 11 with a winning bid of $38,100.00, bringing the final tally to $1,037,100 USD in gross income.
Tew wanted to find a way of funding his degree studies, since he was starting a course at the University of Nottingham in a month. He had the idea of selling pixels, and even though he didn't really believe anyone would want to buy them, he decided to go ahead with the plan since he had very little to lose by trying. He planned not to market the site, but to simply allow it to become known by word of mouth. Within three days, he sold his first 20×20 pixel block to an online music site. From then on, with only a press release in terms of self-promotion, he sold several blocks a day. To Tew's surprise, it only took about two weeks before he had enough money to pay his first year at university. By then, a number of well-known blogs and UK newspapers (e.g. The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Sun) had noted his endeavor, and the numbers of orders skyrocketed. A month on from the site's launch, he had made $152,900.
Tew only stayed on his university course for one term and had to pull out due to the massive media attention he was receiving and the time he spent dealing with website related issues and interviews.
The concept quickly spawned hundreds of copycat sites which were greatly encouraged by the sales of a pixel script and by the fact the Million Dollar Homepage was quickly selling out of its last pixels and generating further publicity. Being first, the Million Dollar Homepage became an essentially self marketing tool as a result of its sheer style and novelty. The copycat sites lacked this novelty and most failed.
In December 2006 Alex Tew started a new project called Pixelotto.com. It finished in January 2008 and was less successful than Million Dollar Homepage, with almost 85% of the pixels remaining unsold at the end of its one-year run. There are no plans to run the project for another year.