Five years ago, Alex Tew became famous for his simple, clever, and very lucrative idea, the Million Dollar Homepage. Tew, then a college student, bought a homepage with a million pixels, then sold advertising space to companies for a buck a pixel. It worked, and Tew was able to finance his education—and then some. Now, the 26-year-old Brit has an idea that could earn him two or three million dollars: One Million People, a book with a million faces.
That's right—it's a hard-copy facebook. (Putting Facebook on paper seems to be something of a trend.) Tew says he got the idea while talking with his brother. The Million Dollar Homepage was graphically compelling—as he tells Fast Company, it was "like a snapshot of the Internet at that time." Tew got to thinking: what would a snapshot of the Internet be today? His answer: The social web, with Facebook at its core. In other words, faces.
The One Million People book will be 1,250 pages long, a mammoth coffee-table affair, and will retail for around $100. Most of Tew's profits won't come from selling the book itself. Initially, Tew planned to charge $3 for each person to submit a headshot for the book. Soon, Tew was approached by corporations interested in sponsoring pages. He has since scrapped the pay-per-face model, meaning you can upload your face now for free, and some corporation will be footing the bill for the privilege of becoming a part of "Internet History," to use the phrase Tew had applied to the Million Dollar Homepage.
Tew's latest idea caused the British Daily Telegraph to call him "the most annoying man on the Internet"—because of the seemingly effortless way he capitalizes on trends, transforming them into one-shot, get-rich-quick ideas. The success of One Million People already seems likely. His site is gaining momentum via — guess what — Twitter and Facebook. Thousands of people have already uploaded their faces onto the site, and Tew says that he hopes the book might be filled "within a few months."
Tew's own face has occupied the second slot on the first page of his book. He has reserved, however, the very first slot for a special someone he credits with inspiring him. Below, a picture of Tew's brush with that man:
Unfortunately, Mark Zuckerberg has yet to register for One Million People. "He's obviously a very busy guy," says Tew.