INTERVIEW: Becoming a Dot Com Millionaire
BECOMING A DOT COM MILLIONAIRE
Male – “I was working as an electrician at (an institution), but I was always interested in making more money on the side, getting ahead in life.
I was a single parent at that time; I had recently gotten divorced, and that’s actually what motivated me to trying to make more money; it broke my heart to send my son to daycare every day, that really bothered me.”
“He was about four years old, and I just didn’t want someone else looking after my boy, I felt there was something fundamentally wrong with that. I could tell he was really upset about our divorce, and I felt that he’d been through enough, that if there was anything I could do to make it easier, to make him happy… that was my goal at the time.”
BRAINSTORMING TO SUIT THE CIRCUMSTANCES
“I was at home with my son after work during the weekdays, and when he’d go to bed of course I couldn’t go anywhere, I needed to stay at home. So I knew I needed to come up with a job I could do while staying at home.
I decided that the best way to do this was to write a book about something I knew about. Writing doesn’t take any money (to start), it only takes time; just write things down. You can even start by just selling photocopies of it. Anyone can write a book – on how to make go-karts, how to grow huge tomatoes – and then the internet came to town.
I thought, ‘Here’s a way to make money; write something, and sell it over the internet, send it by email’. I thought, ‘This (internet) is so new, why don’t I think of ways to make money over the internet, and then write a book about it?’
So I wrote a book about ways to make money on the internet. It took me about a year. I made photocopy printings of it and sold about 5,000 copies over the internet.”
“Then I started thinking about domain names, wondering if they were of any value. (A domain name is a company’s Internet ‘address’, nowadays you see them advertised everywhere – ‘www.soup.com’, or ‘www.pickuptrucks.com’, etc.) Everyone had complimented me on my (website’s) domain name, so I began to wonder if people were willing to buy these domain names.
I realized that… there’s only one (his domain name) in all the world, there’s only one beer.com, only one cars.com; this must be valuable.”
This was around 1997, before masses of speculators started inventing and registering domain names on the speculation that large corporations might pay a large fee to buy an appropriate or interesting domain name from someone who ‘beat them to it’.
“I started checking common names – like house.com, etc. – and they were all taken. But for one name I checked, the website said ‘status on hold’, and I wondered what that meant; I researched and found out that it meant they were about to lose it (the use of that domain name) because they hadn’t paid the renewal fee. (For registering it; domains are registered for one year at a time and you must renew each year or lose the name)
I checked it every other day, and one day it came available, and I registered it. I thought it was a great name, and I thought I would find a way to find names that are on ‘hold’, register them myself, hang on to them, and see what happens. To register a domain name back then cost $100 each, so I thought I’d try to sell some, to recoup that. I originally bought only five or ten, and reasoned that if I could sell one for $600, I could pay for that one, and gain enough money to register five more names. So I approached people, companies over the Internet who I thought might be related to that name, have an interest in using it. I sold a few for around that price.
Then I sold one for $5,000.
That got my heart going, I thought I was a millionaire, Mr. Moneybags. Right then, I realized that this was going to work. Then I dove completely into it.”
DIVING INTO IT
“Once I sold that name for $5,000 and knew this was going to work, I started registering more and more names with the profits. Prices started going up. (Domain names ‘caught on’, and higher selling prices were demanded by their owners)
Staying at home to look after my son gave me the time to do this – I would stay up until two, three in the morning working at the computer, then I’d get up at seven, take my boy to daycare, go to work, pick him up after, come home and do it all over again. I’d be just bagged (tired out) all the time, exhausted, but I could see that this was going to get us somewhere.
Eventually after all this hard work at two jobs, after about two years my new one became successful enough that I was able to quit the electrician job.”
A GRAND TRANSITION
“The happiest moment out of that whole process was the first day I didn’t have to take my son to daycare. It was doubly amazing – that was also the first day I didn’t go back to my (electrician’s) job. So I could do my own thing, whatever I wanted during the day… and my son was with me. I’d met my goal, my dream.
Then he never had to go to daycare when he was with me (his mother shared custody); and when he started school, I took him there, picked him up afterward. We could finally enjoy summer holidays, whereas before I’d have to leave him in daycare while I went to work, and I hated that.
It was so nice to be at home with him; that was huge… it gave me huge satisfaction, knowing that what I did (leaving behind the old job, taking a chance on the new) was a good thing. Now, I still drive him to school. Summer holidays we’re together.”
MORE SOLID ENJOYMENTS
“I didn’t go hog-wild, the money came in gradually, over time. The first ‘toys’ I bought were two dirt bikes for me and my son. Then a boat. Then I bought the first ‘necessity’, a brand new truck. Before that, I had never thought I would ever buy a brand new vehicle. I went to look at it, and ended up buying it. I just wrote a check – that was amazing. No payments, just ‘Here’s the check’.
The next real large purchase was a bigger house, this house. Then (another toy) the new Corvette, then a quad. (A four-wheel off-road vehicle)
GETTING USED TO NEW MONEY
“I don’t think there was a ‘getting used to’ period for (son); he seemed the same, he kept all the same friends. Although he loved it in that little townhouse (a small place they lived in before he was able to buy this beautiful big house we’re now talking in) even more than here; his friends were close by.
His values are good, as far as spending money. He doesn’t ask for money, he doesn’t want a lot of things. He can say, ‘I don’t need that.’ He’s not a greedy kid. I don’t just buy him ‘stuff’; if he wants a book, anything that furthers his growth, education, I’ll buy it right away. And of course I’ll buy special treats, like a trip or some gift. But if it’s any amusement, toy, skateboard – he’s got to save up, pay half. That’s given him a sense of value of things, a sense of earning; to just give him everything he wants will ruin a kid fast.
And I’m very aware that kids already look at him (as being different)… ‘Why is that kid riding in a Cadillac Escalade, or a Corvette?’ That can make him very self-conscious, not fitting in with the other kids, so I make sure he’s the same – dresses just like anyone else his age.”
‘…AND THE CHICKS FOR FREE?’ (Song lyrics)
“I had a lot more girls wanting to date me. It’s a small city, word gets around. It’s funny, girls who weren’t interested in me before all of a sudden are interested. I got a kick out of that. I never dated any of them, I only had long-term (sincere) relationships.
The girl I’m dating now didn’t know (him, or that he was wealthy) when we started talking and made our first date.” (They met at a supermarket)
EVEN MORE ENJOYMENTS
“I bought my Mom a lot of stuff, furniture. She thought she wanted a condo, a bigger place, so I bought her the one she wanted. But it was too big (she felt), and also for other reasons we sold it six months later. Sometimes you try to do the right thing and it doesn’t work out.
I took (girlfriend) to Hollywood for a week. To Vegas; I picked a hotel where there’s a good chance to meet celebrities, knowing she’d get a kick out of it. She met Gabriel Byrne, Nicolas Cage (two actors).
I’ve been to the Grand Canyon by helicopter four times now, with and without (girlfriend) – we fly over Hoover Dam, land down in the canyon for a special meal and drinks, fly back at dusk when it’s so beautiful, all the Las Vegas strip lights are lit up. Beautiful. I rented a Dodge Viper to drive across the desert. Another time a Porsche. Lots of fun stuff, lots of trips.”
FEELING GOOD ABOUT HAVING IT
“People try to make you feel bad for having, for making a lot of money, but if you have lots of money… you can help people with it. It’s not an evil thing, it’s a good thing if you use it correctly.
I’ve had people on my case about it. Indirectly, you hear people saying, ‘Who needs all that money? Nobody needs all that’. Or ‘Why would somebody with all that money want to make more, that’s just greedy’.
But money’s just like a tool or a weapon: you can use it for good or evil. If you hoard it, and earn it by screwing over people, if you don’t help people, don’t give it back somehow, then there’s some harm. (Some neglect?)
I’ve told my son, ‘Don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty for wanting to be rich, because being rich, striving to be rich, can be a healthy thing; it depends on the person’. I’ve told him, ‘Even if you have lots, and you want to make more… go for it’. You can do a lot of good things with it.
You can do anything with it; you can give it away, build an orphanage, send money to Africa… there’s nothing wrong with making money, it can be a wonderful thing.”
SOME LESSONS LEARNED FROM SUCCEEDING
“A lot of people just don’t realize that you can make something of yourself without having to work for someone else. People get programmed to go to school, study something, then work for somebody. They’re programmed into thinking that those people who make a lot of money are just ‘lucky’, that they just fluked out while others are going broke. People are so afraid to risk.
And so many people just cannot function without having a taskmaster with a whip over their backs saying ‘Do this!’ I’m amazed at how many people think they need that.
People have said, ‘What do you do all day? I can’t do that, I wouldn’t know what to do all day’. I say, ‘Do you want me to write you a list of about ten thousand things?’ To me, that’s obscene; I know a guy who retired, and then went back to his job because he was bored.
They complain about work, complain about the boss, they can’t wait to retire and think that (retiring) will solve everything… but they’re still miserable. I work. I still work, I’m still busy. I just now do the things I want to do.
So many people are stuck living in a place they hate. Early on I realized that if I could get a job working on the internet… I could live anywhere I want. What freedom! Travel around, use a laptop computer – what an amazing thing! So that was another huge motivation factor; if I could get this internet thing going as my sole income, I’d be really free – pick my own hours, be my own boss. Really free.”
LESSONS LEARNED FROM HAVING MORE MONEY AND BELONGINGS
“I don’t really get attached to things anymore, like I used to. I enjoy things… but once you realize you can have anything you want, it’s not that big a deal anymore. When you don’t have it (money, material things), you think it’s a big deal, that it’s important to your happiness. You think, ‘Oh, man, if I only had that nice car or house, then I’d be happy’. But once you have them, you realize it’s nice, it’s fun, but that you can take it or leave it… you begin to realize it’s never really yours.
I say that, but people who don’t have money don’t believe it. But it’s the truth. I like nice things, I enjoy using them, but I don’t (over-protectively) treasure them; I don’t say, ‘Don’t touch it, this is my baby’. Some people will have their car for decades, refusing to sell it; it’s their ‘baby’. To me (now), that’s silly. It’s just a car. They’re fun, but it’s just a car. It’s not a being, not a person.
But they feel that way because it came very hard to them, getting that car… they had to save and scrimp. The harder you work for something, the more you cherish it, the more you value it. But once you can get things easily, you realize, you have a revelation – ‘Wow… this isn’t that important; it’s not nearly the important thing in life’.
Although… I actually sometimes miss that feeling of really wanting something badly, saving up for it. When I was a kid I wanted a motorcycle so bad, I dreamed for years of getting a mini-bike. I saved for it, I clipped out magazine articles, and when I finally got the bike it was like, ‘Ahhh – this is just the best!’ Having that desire was really cool. I do miss it, because I don’t have that (youthful anticipation) of saving for something anymore; everything comes easily.”
“When you’re in a position of power (like having a lot of money), people want to be your ‘friend’. You can just sense it – they want to be around you for the chance of getting something (money, gifts) out of you. But that’s normal. That’s human. You just have to be strong (wise?) enough to realize when it’s happening with someone, and don’t let them make you emotionally bummed out.
You develop a ‘bullshit detector’, you can tell when people are sincere or not. I’m pretty good at it now when I meet new friends. I still have all the same friends; since they were with me before being wealthy, I know it’s not fake, and they’re the most cherished thing I have.”
“I don’t know. I just keep trying to do better at what I’m doing. I would like to help people with the money I have. I’ll give money to charities, that’s an easy thing, and a good thing. Money is important in this world, people need it to live.
For myself (and his family)… I love this house, but now I want something more appropriate. I want a built-in wood-working shop where I can teach my son to build things with wood, I want a bigger yard so we can kick a ball around, do a little archery without hitting any neighbors. (Ha)
I’m not moving (into the new home he’s having designed and built) to be noticed by other people, I just want to do the things I always wanted to do. And the kids (his son, and his girlfriend’s son) can have a place to play, run around in the apple trees (there’s an orchard), and I want them to have a pool, you know how kids love to be around water.
I told the architect everything we want, the style we want, just gave him sketches-on-a-napkin, you know. ”
THE LUSCIOUS FRUITS
“Now (girlfriend) is on a leave of absence from work, to see how she likes it; she’s working for me. So it’s nice: I can spread it (the wealth, the goodwill, the possibilities) around a bit. Now her boy can spend more time with her, and she can explore doing the things she wanted to do.
We’re together almost all the time, and it’s wonderful. It’s hard to find someone who you enjoy being around all the time like that.
Now, we have a lot of fun.”
Postscript: He now owns a wonderful manse on ten acres of gorgeous lakeview property, he owns a few thousand top domain names, still gets the toys (latest is a dream of his, a new helicopter, for which he has recently completed training), and still spreads around the wealth and goodwill.