Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda... a tale of what could have been

5 replies
Way back in the stone ages of the Internet, I had created an online auction site. eBay was certainly the king, but there was not anybody seriously trying to compete. Rather than trying to make mine a general auction site, I focused on certain niche categories.

The site offered free listings and no final value fee. Sellers could buy upgrades to their listings, though.

I had been operating a few months and had a growing member base when I saw on the news that famous hacker Kevin Mitnick was ousted from eBay for attempting to sell his prison ID cards and a few other things. I immediately contacted Mitnick and told him that he could sell the items on my site. He listed them within hours.

At about 3am, I received a call from a reporter at the AP. She said that she was doing a wire story about Mitnick and wanted some information about my site. I quickly woke up and answered all of her questions.

The next day, the story was picked up by news agencies from around the world. Every article that appeared online had a link to my site. The story was on CNN and on their website. USA Today, Time, and CNet all wrote about it. My phone rang off the hook for two days. Reporters were calling all hours of the night.

My site went crazy. Over a million unique visitors came in just 48 hours. Tens of thousands registered and that number was growing by the minute.

Then, I received a phone call from my hosting service. They asked when I was going to pay the bandwidth bill. It was almost $60,000. I explained that I did not have the money, but this kind of traffic is worth millions of dollars and I would gladly cut them in. They asked how I was going to monetize the money. I told them that I had several co-reg partners that were being implemented that day. Each lead was worth about $5. The guy on the other end of the line told me that there was no money in lead generation and he was going to shut down the site if I didn't pay by the end of the week.

I quickly added some banners from the banner networks (back then $3 CPM was low) and implemented the co-reg. The co-reg took about two days to implement. Within an hour of implementing, I had generated about 100 co-reg leads. The next time I checked my site, it was gone. Not only was the site taken down, but all of the data was gone, including the members' information.

My hosting rep said that the traffic was too much for his system to handle, so he just did the easiest thing he could, which was to remove my site and databases.

Months later, a friend at a PR firm sent me a report that showed all of the media mentions of my site. He estimated the value of the PR that I received to be in the $6 million range.

Take what you want from this story. You can imagine all of the coulda, woulda, shouldas that go through my head every time I think of this.

Oh ya, Mitnick's first ID card sold for about $6,000. The second for about $3,000.
#ages #coulda #shoulda #stone #tale #woulda
  • Profile picture of the author Jay norestin
    hahahaha... wow... lol.. I can't even picture myself in this
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    • Profile picture of the author madaffiliatemoney
      Wow, that is horrible. Looks like you lost out on a lot of potential business. There was no way for you to take legal action against your host?? I could see your host suspending your host service, but not deleting all your files and customer database.

      Best of luck,
      Some people make stuff happen, Some people watch stuff happen, Some people ask, "What Happened?"
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      • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
        Originally Posted by madaffiliatemoney View Post

        There was no way for you to take legal action against your host??
        One of the many coulda, woulda, shouldas.

        Founder of JVZoo. All around good guy :)

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    • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
      Originally Posted by Vijay M View Post

      wow..fantastic story, Brian.

      Is this hosting service still around?
      Nope. Imagine that.

      Founder of JVZoo. All around good guy :)

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