The Business of Luck

March 18, 2007 Posted by Tyler Cruz

“We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?” — Jean Cocteau

What a great quote, and all too true. However, in this post I’d like to earnestly discuss the real importance of luck on web publishing.

If you asked me a couple of years ago how much luck mattered in this industry, I would have told you “minimally”. However, my views have since changed. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still believe that hard work, perseverence, knowledge, and ingenuity are crucial to success, but I also believe that luck is a factor as well.

Now, the following example is subjective, but it is only an example. I don’t know how much luck truely attributed to the following example as I don’t know all the private details. However, let’s take a look at the Million Dollar Homepage.

The site is a product of Alex Tew, the 21-year-old Brit who created the site after brainstorming various ideas on how to make money online. The vast majority of web publishers I know give a sour response when commenting about the site, and the word “luck” is usually said. Now, while I’m sure everyone is a bit jealous that such a simple idea brought in 1-million dollars, I believe the jealously to be minimal, and that my collegues, including myself, truely believe the successful site was truely attributed to luck.

Alex’s idea, after all, is nothing new. People have been coming up with get-rich-quick internet ideas for years. However, the press seemed to really be interested in his site, and once the press shone the spotlight on him, he was set. It really didn’t matter what site he had, in my opinion; once the international media hits you, such as CNN, you’re set.

Apparantly, after Tew hit his million dollars, he started to claim how he had a ton of other “million dollar ideas”, and was going to launch them.

Several months ago, he did launch one of them: Pixelotto. It’s basically a clone of the Million Dollar Homepage, but with a slight twist. Pixels cost twice as much now, at $2 each, and now he offers half of that, one million dollars, to a random person who clicks one of the ads on the site.

Sigh.

While the business model may sound impressive, Tew’s idea of generating click-throughs to the advertisers, the advertisers are getting falsified traffic; people aren’t interested in their site, but would be trying to win the money.

Anyhow, I’m not surprised that Tew came up with this idea for his second site… he could ride the success of his former site and contact his past advertisers to generate some quick easy cash, which he did do, but after having a million dollars in his pocket, I was hoping he’d come up with something a bit more… sophisticated.

Not only did he have one million dollars in capital, but he had the success and major traffic of the Million Dollar Homepage to work off as well.

Which brings me back onto the subject at hand: luck.

Tew’s case is just an example. Was he just lucky? Or was his business model just a great idea? Personally I think he was lucky.

And there are lucky people everywhere. Hell, I was lucky. I was lucky enough to get into the poker market right before it soared. PokerForums is my biggest earning site by far, and without it, my income would be dramatically lower.

However, luck can also play the opposite roll: bad luck. Late last year, the US legislation passed a bill that tried to criple online gambling, and is doing a pretty good job at it so far. What could I have done to prevent that? Nothing realistically. And so there lies the luck factor again.

There are brilliant business and entrepreneurial minds all about, and many work hard and launch various projects and do very well. However, many work hard and launch various projects and don’t do so well.

I’ll finish by reiterating that I still believe that hard work, perseverence, knowledge, and ingenuity are crucial to success, but I also believe luck to be a catalyst which can make or break success.

What do you think?

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Posted: March 18th, 2007 under Articles  

7 Responses to “The Business of Luck”

  1. matjnewton says:

    Alex Tew would have needed a bit of PR nouse to make the news organisations sit up and take notice! Maybe the site was basic but PR wise he was onto a good thing.

  2. XingR says:

    Luck is certainly important, but there are a number of sayings that echo the same thought: Luck smiles upon the prepared man.

    Napoleon and Douglas MacArthur were both famous for being quoted as saying they would rather have a lucky officer than a skillful one.

    So preparation and luck are both important. Where a majority of is sit is continually preparing for that one great opportunity but taking advantage of none of them. Alex Tew certainly had luck when his idea was picked up y the media … but he was on the ground to take advantage of it … why wasn’t someone older and wiser there first? Because the idea was all risk at the beginning … yet if you look at his initial investment he risked less than most people risk on a Friday night poker game with friends … certainly less than John Chow typically pays for dinner ;-)

  3. Dejan Murko says:

    “I have heard” that he had a little help from one company that pushed his idea in to the media. :)

  4. [...] Tyler talks about the business of luck. I definitely agree that the are points in our life where we are presented with good luck (and bad luck) but it doesn’t stop there. It all depends on what you do with that good fortune – you have to act on it. [...]

  5. Shane says:

    I’m sure he had a little bit of luck. The bottom line though is he went out and banged on doors to get sales.

    90% of business ideas fail because people don’t get out and sell.

    I think he sold like $400K himself and then he got a PR person involved to push it the rest of the way.

    Pixelotto was a great idea, especially since it was potentially not just one shot but repeatable. The problem is that all the right motivational ingredients just aren’t there. There’s something missing.

  6. [...] makes great points, but I do not always agree with them. For instance, he has a post discussing the business of luck. He believes that luck plays an integral part in life while I do not believe in luck much at all. I [...]

  7. Some people are born lucky and for some luck just comes along the way. I believe in working hard to achieve what you desire but if the hard work is propelled further by luck then good for you because you will be more successful.

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