Venture capitalist John Doerr, in the 1990s, predicted that the Internet would be responsible for “the greatest legal creation of wealth in history.” He was right!
There are swathes of Internet millionaires. A large number have made their money through Internet stocks and there are, of course, multi-billion-pound Internet companies: Amazon, Google and Facebook being the most famous. But you don’t have to be a canny investor or a massive tech company to make your fortune.
Below are just 5 examples of entrepreneurs who have been able to make millions thanks to the internet. Five guys who have managed to transform simple ideas into stunning sensations through hard work and clever calculation. Profiting from the low entrance costs of digital space.
1. Matthew Mullenweg’s WordPress
The genius idea: build the foundation on which the Internet is written.
Mullenweg, together with his business partner Matt Little, built WordPress: a free, open source web content management system that is used by pretty much everyone. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the universe, used by over 74 million websites worldwide.
Mullenweg has a net worth of around $40 million.
2. David Karp’s Tumblr
The genius idea: create a short-form blog
David Karp’s fascination with ‘tumble blogging’ (also called microblogging) led him to create the now iconic site Tumblr, which he launched in 2007. Within just a couple of weeks, Tumblr had attracted more than 70,000 users. Today, the blogging platform is home to over 200 million blogs and was bought by Yahoo! for over a billion dollars.
Karp remains CEO of the company, and his net worth is estimated to be roughly $200 million.
3. Peter Thiel’s PayPal
The genius idea: “Paper money is an ancient technology and an inconvenient means of payment.” Peter Thiel (Create a modern payment system for the Internet.)
Thiel had the foresight to realise that the internet would at some point require a convenient means of exchanging money for goods. He therefore conceived and created a modern online payment system - Pay Pal - together with this business partner Max Levchin. After merging with X.com (joining forces with tech billionaire Elon Musk), the company was floated in 2002 and was sold to eBay for over a billion dollars in the same year.
Thiel’s net worth is estimated at $2.2 billion
4. Nick Denton’s Gawker Media
The genius idea: create a family of online ‘magazine’ sites that will deliver news, entertainment and gossip.
Gawker Media was founded in 2002 by Oxford University educated journalist Nick Denton. Gawker has grown into an influential media group (which includes the popular gadget website Gizmodo) that boasts eight original titles read by over 60 million people. The Gawker brand is heralded by some as the “biggest blog in the world”.
Denton has an estimated net worth of $320 million.
5. Kevin Systrom’s Instagram
The genius idea: an internet wide photo-sharing platform
Instagram is described by Wikipedia as “an online mobile photo, video sharing application and social networking service” which enables users to share their images on other social media networks. Although it hasn’t been around that long – Systrom and his business partner Mark Krieger launched Instagram in 2010 – the site’s meteoric rise is reflected in the fact that it was purchased by Facebook for around $1 billion (barely two years after its debut).
Today, Systrom’s net worth is valued at $400 million.
You don’t have to have the brains of Steve Jobs or Elon Musk to become successful in the internet age. What you do need to have is an abundance of curiosity, passion, hard work and a willingness to learn – traits possessed by all the entrepreneurs in this short list. No matter how simple your idea, if it’s the right idea, at the right time, you will make it.
Want to share any other examples of simple ideas that have generated millions? Share them via the comments section below.