6 years ago

Six years later, travel spin put on the infamous Million Dollar Homepage

In 2005 the Million Dollar Homepage captured the imagination of the general public, not least because the person behind it was a 21 year old trying to pay his way through university.

Alex Tew created a web page of one million individual “pixels” and sold each one (or multiples of blocks) to a different advertiser for $1 each.

million pixel

While some seasoned web entrepreneurs might have sniffed snobbishly at such a simple idea, mainstream media lapped it up primarily due to Tew’s fresh faced innocence and because it was, well, simple. And it did eventually achieve its goal (despite security attacks).

Fast forward six years and tour and activity web network Alcatraz Media is trying to do the same thing all over again, this time with TourMillion.

tour million

Alcatraz Media, based in San Francisco (where , ironically, Tew ended up with Monkey Inferno), is trying to regurgitate interest in the idea by selling pixels in blocks of 10×10 to travel, tourism and hospitality companies.

The concept is exactly the same – companies buy space, get a tiny logo and a link, and the page stays up for at least three years. Pixels cost $50 for a block of 10×10, half the price of Tew’s original.

Alcatraz, which is using the Reserve123 brand as a front for the project, has curiously omitted to mention Tew’s pioneering concept at all in the promotion of TourMillion, only responding to a tweet that it “…loved 2005. Wish we could all travel back in time and relive our youth”.

Tew has spoken before of those trying the idea again:

“The copycats are all competing with each other. They have very little ads, therefore I guess it’s not going too well for them. The idea only works once and relies on novelty… any copycat sites will only have pure comedy value, whereas mine possibly has a bit of comedy PLUS some actual pull in advertising dollars… so I say good luck to the imitators!”

So sure of the outcome that Alcatraz bosses are already calling it a chance to “create history within the travel industry”.

Tnooz will be checking back regularly…

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Best of Tnooz This Week - Shape shifting, Ecosystem death, Truth finders | Tnooz

    […] Six years later, travel spin put on the infamous Million Dollar Homepage […]

  2. Walls

    Is TourMillion intending to really “make history” or just a tiny, fleeting blip on the radar of travel marketers? I suppose time will tell but I see no benefits for the end user, that is, the visitor that stumbles on this site and is either amused to the point of aimlessly clicking on a few random placements or bounces immediately with annoyance.

  3. Nick

    Indeed I had considered it, which is why I asked about the functionality.

    The lazy comment was made (again about the site, not personally) taking TourMillion.com at face value, which I fear most people will do – it *looks* rather like you’ve taken a $199 script and slapped it up there to try to make a bit of cash. If that’s not the case and there are some great hidden features in there somewhere which are well thought-out and add lots of value to users, I apologize, perhaps it was a bit unfair.

    So I look forward to learning more about the services when you officially launch…

  4. Ryan Windsor

    Nick, I can handle it. I am a big boy, and this is not my first rodeo. Can you tell I am from Texas? I actually appreciate the banter.

    First off, thank you for giving Reserve123 props. We have worked hard to build this site as the result of operating 2,500 different tour and activity sites worldwide for 12 years. We needed one place to list everything that we sell, and Reserve123 is the end result. We are constantly updating the site, and we have some exciting new features rolling out in the next month (think gamification and social loyalty). Stuff that would make even you proud.

    As far as your question about why I feel the way I do. Maybe there is more to this TourMillion.com site than you have seen thus far? Surely you have considered that.

    For the record, we have not even officially launched the site at this time, and yet we are discussing it. The only reason Tnooz found out about the site (early) was because Vertical Response posted a tweet without my knowledge. A cool accident if you ask me, because I am loving the attention.

    I respect your opinion, albeit a strong one. I am trying to build something special, and will continue to work diligently every day until I succeed on my own terms.

    Please note: This project was not designed for the lazy. It takes a lot of work to create something worth creating. If there was one thing I would like to call out from your posts, it is the lazy/lame effort comment. I have never been lazy, and will never be lazy. I work hard, as I am sure you do to.

    Thank you for the discussion.

  5. Ryan Windsor

    Wow, a lot of discussion has taken place since I was last here! I would like to address Kevin’s direct question:

    When I first learned about a ‘pixel grid’ website, it was from a colleague (a few weeks ago). What he showed me was not affiliated with the Million Dollar Homepage or Alex Tew. I liked the concept, and decided to search for a software solution, which I quickly found.

    At that time, I learned about Alex Tew and the Million Dollar Homepage. From that point forward, I have asked friends, coworkers, and neighbors if they have ever heard of the Million Dollar Homepage or Alex Tew. Nobody I know has a clue what I am talking about, so I felt the travel spin was viable.

    So far, the site is getting a great response. I feel as though the site is a success already based on my goals. If you read my blog, you know that my goals do not revolve around financial gain.

    Lastly, I wish that everybody here would calm down a little bit on both sides of the coin. I am all for discussion, and respect that everybody is entitled to their opinion, but could do without the ‘name calling’.


    • Nick

      Hi Ryan

      Interesting response – thanks for returning to the debate.

      Note, however, that the vitriol was directed at the idea. And this is the part I don’t get – from what I can see, you run quite a cool-looking tour guide site with ratings, social media integration, online availability checking, and some sort of e-ticketing. Your other site says it offers 11,000 tours, attractions and activities in over 450 destinations and 75 countries and claims to be “the world’s largest provider of tours and activities”.

      So I guess what I struggle to wrap my head around is how or why you feel that TourMillion is creating “small piece of travel history with this social networking tool”. You say the goal isn’t to make money (which sort of begs the question of why you’re not just giving away the pixels, but OK…) but it’s to develop a social network, to generate a sense of community and generate buzz. (From http://tourmillion.reserve123.com/blog.php)

      As Tnooz is a place where ambitious startups often see their statements and assumptions challenged by industry stakeholders, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to question how your site is providing the services it claims to? How does the community/social networking part, which you appear to be trying to sell as a service to others, work?

      @anne – Yep, I’m certifiable 😀 Strong opinions, but no hidden agenda here I’m afraid, just passionate about entrepreneurialism, technology and travel.

  6. Anne

    No affiliation. Know & like the people there. How about you?

    • El Hak (The Truth)

      I have no affiliation with them either, but if I did I certainly wouldn’t admit to it in public 😉

  7. Anne

    To Nick, wow..that was oddly extreme. I for one, certainly agree with your assessment of…as you say, your “… repressed anger issues ” Some would say you have a hidden agenda otherwise there is little reason for such vehement, caustic rhetoric lodged against people you don’t even know (both the site, its people and advertisers). How could you begin to know their reasons? You made some very ugly accusations and wild assumptions. I don’t see that they have hurt you personally or interfered with you in any manner unless you are not being honest.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @anne – before you, ironically, aim similar (though less barbed) accusations at Nick, maybe you can disclose if you have any affiliations with the Alcataz/Reserve123 organisation or the TourMillion project?

    • El Hak (The Truth)

      @Anne – I don’t see any hidden agenda in Nick’s emotional response, just a very impassioned and angry post provoked by such a stupid website and more importantly, by its ridiculous claims.

      I think Nick echoes what we all think, except you of course because you clearly have some association with the website.

  8. Nick

    I regularly read Tnooz but I don’t normally comment, much less to flame someone. So apologies in advance, but I feel compelled to with this story.

    Alex Tew’s idea rightly received plenty of attention all those years ago because it was original. It was by a young kid, who coded something innovative, to solve a problem that he had at the time. It was a cool idea which earned itself a quick mention in internet meme history.

    This, by contrast, is the most useless waste of bandwidth I’ve seen in the travel industry. I even have more time for the linkbait SEO-optimised blogs out there plagiarising content, to be frank, because at least someone might one day stumble upon a sentence on them which adds something to their trip.

    It’s patently not original, as El Hak points out, but then, I suppose not every good idea is. What annoys me more is that this is cheap and lazy. It’s someone who has seen an idea which they thought was cool and decided to rip it off for profit – only they’re six years late. Even the code is plug and play. It offers nothing people want, nothing new or useful – even to the advertisers on there (although while I can’t understand for the life of me why any advertiser would bother getting involved when there are so many more targeted and better ways to spend $50 online today, I suppose the irony of these things is that the less successful they are, the better value they arguably offer an advertiser).

    Anyone could do it, and as Tew says, plenty have tried and failed. So the claim that it’s making any sort of history is laughable, bordering on insulting the intelligence of anyone who comes across ‘TourMillion’.

    Tnooz does hands-down the best job on the internet covering hundreds (thousands?) of travel startups, smart people who are creating unique products which are going to change the way we see the world in the future. That there are so many out there makes a lame effort like this even more contemptuous.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @nick – thanks for the comment, sorry you felt so negatively moved in order to do so though 🙁

      Perhaps lost in the tone of the original piece, but we only covered it because of the uncanny likeness to Tew’s original.

      • Nick

        Rereading, that was quite extreme of me – definitely some repressed anger issues there…

        As I said, I’m a regular reader and a big fan of what you guys do, and it’s good to see variety of this sort which provokes discussion/strong opinions. So don’t be sorry 🙂

  9. El Hak (The Truth)

    Ryan, you claim on your blog that you’ve never heard of Alex Tew or his Million Dollar homepage, yet your pixel site is powered by the following script:


    They actually mention him and his site quite prominently on their homepage; it’s a strong selling point.

  10. Anne

    Nice reply and I enjoyed reading what you said on the blog, Ryan.

  11. Ryan Windsor

    I wanted to thank you for writing this article. We appreciate the press, and look forward to building something special for the travel industry. I posted a blog on the TourMillion.com site just now (linked in this post) that might help clear up a few questions as well as outline our motivation in creating the page.

    Thanks again.

    All the best,

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @ryan – hey, thx for chiming in.

      I read the blog post you wrote (http://tourmillion.reserve123.com/blog.php ).

      Wish you all the best, but curious about your assertion here:

      “I want to point out that I have never met Alex Tew and had never heard of him or the Million Dollar Homepage when I initially embarked on the journey to create The Tour Million.”

      So, to confirm, you had never seen the design, style or concept of the Million Dollar Homepage before you started creating the Tour Million project and design?


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