Most people dream of getting rich instantly. That’s why the lottery is so popular.
One man, Scott Delong, found a way to do it. Eight months ago, he founded ViralNova.com. It’s a media company that uses click-baity headlines to draw in readers. The content is perfect for Facebook sharing. Headlines include:
- It Might Look Like A Normal Chandelier. But When You Stand Underneath It And Look Up…Wow.
- This Guy’s Crazy Idea Started To Make His Wife Nervous. But It Was Worth It, Trust Me.
Last month, his website pulled in 100 million visitors. That means, 100 million people visited ViralNova.com. Delong uses remnant ads (cheap ads, like Google AdSense). There are two ads on every page. A site like ViralNova, which pulls people in via external leaks, usually has a high bounce rate (or people who leave the website quickly). That means each user is probably reading one or two articles, and ViralNova’s two ads are probably running on 100 — 200 million pages every month.
If we’re being generous, ViralNova’s AdSense rate might be $US2 per thousand views, $US1 for each ad on the page. Assuming ViralNova pulled in 200 million page views last month, he’d have made $US400,000 in December. He also pays two freelancers and he has to shell out some to keep his servers running. But most of that money is being pocketed by Delong.
Delong told Business Insider’s Steve Kovach that he is indeed making 6-figures each month. That means his annual revenue run rate is between $US1.2 million and $US4.8 million per year, assuming his traffic stays high.
But now, Business Insider has learned that Delong might sell ViralNova. He hired a domain broker to reach out to larger publishers on his behalf and see if they might be interested in acquiring ViralNova.
Delong told Kovach that he’s tired of running ViralNova day in and day out. He wants to explore options.
Some think Delong is making the right choice. Afterall, Facebook just changed its NewsFeed algorithm to highlight high quality content on Facebook, rather than dinky links from websites that try and game it. ViralNova arguably tries to game Facebook, hence its ability to scale to 100 million monthly visitors in just eight months.
But Delong told AllThingsD’s Mike Issac on Twitter that ViralNova’s traffic has only increased since Facebook’s algorithm changes.
So what gives?
One investor who spoke with Delong tried to convince him to expand ViralNova and create a big business. Delong turned the investor down and said he’d rather start fresh on something else.
I asked the same question on Twitter and Delong pinged me back. We proceeded to have a long conversation about why he’s trying to sell off his “easy money” company. After all, any acquirer would want him, the sole employee of the company, to stay on and run ViralNova which Delong has indicated he doesn’t want to do.
Here’s Delong’s explanation for exploring the sell of a startup most entrepreneurs would die to run. Viral successes, after all, are few and far between. That’s presumably why Evan Spiegel decided not to sell Snapchat for $US3 billion to Facebook.