Up till now, the social media space has been a coveted arena where entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg are more interested in building empires than selling their enterprises to the highest bidder. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others were of a similar ilk. However, the next generation of Internet entrepreneurs seem to be looking at things somewhat differently.
One, at the ripe old age of 18, who is still attending college - sold the viral phenomenon known as ThreeWords.me for an undisclosed amount to a mogul known for buying domain sites, more for their namesake and resale value than any interest in actually operating them.
Mark BaoThe two involved in this transaction were Mark Bao, creator of the viral vanity app andKevin Ham Kevin Ham who is a dot-com czar of sorts. Ham's portfolio presently tallies $300 million dollar's worth of URL names. Often billed as "the man who owns the Internet," he lays claim to such sites as God.com and Satan.com, - which some say may have cost him up to to six-figures.
Appearing somewhat naive or cavalier (it's hard to determine), Bao, appears to be more interested in experimenting with new ideas and start-ups, than he is in the heavy lifting of monetizing and running an online operation. He might be lacking in years but not in developmental experience. As the story goes, when he was a 5th grader, he wrote an app to help manage homework, and actually sold it on floppy disks for $5 bucks a pop to fellow students.
The beauty of ThreeWords.me is the premise the network is built on. In essence, the platform allows users to describe their friends on the site or via Twitter or Facebook in three words. The app then collects the three-word descriptions (often anonymously) and tracks which words come up the most often for each user.
At first blush, the latest new shiny thing looked like it was off to a great start. It spiked exponentially in traffic - and after just three short weeks, rose to a quarter of a million users, 5 million total visitors, 4.3 million words and 17 million page views. From all analyses, it was a huge viral success. But according to a Mashable report, "it was a big hit, until it wasn't." As fast as the numbers rose, "the apps popularity waxed and waned" just as quickly.
While Bao is holding the actual disclosure of the sale amount close to the vest - it's suspected that the struggling Bentley University freshman student might have let it go for a song. As this tweet indicates, Bao was definitely watching his budget.
However, whatever the sale price, it hasn't halted Bao from multi-tasking on three other start-ups including Avecora, Genevine and Supportbreeze, plus 15 other projects, some of which can be viewed on his LinkedIn profile.
So while Facebook, LinkedIn and Groupon are all jockeying to be the first with an IPO, it appears the next generation coming up is not so much interested in the creating a destination of success for the future, as they are in living in the moment and smelling the coffee along the way. If you were to describe Mark Bao in three word, chances are most people would say, "Likes Building Things."