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COVER STORY Pays You to Browse the Web

by Don Hamilton

When put up their Web site, 50,000 people visited to download their browser in the first week. When I talked to one week and a couple of days into their Web enterprise, they were trying to recover from a system crash. They had 2,000 people trying to sign on per second. They assured me that they would have additional servers and more bandwidth available by the afternoon, and were working with Exodus Communications to match the growth of traffic on their site with their ability to handle the demand. Sure enough, when I checked back shortly afterward, they had gotten their server up and running again, and by the next morning the site was once again flying.

How do you develop a problem like this? You start by paying people to visit your site. On the user's side of the equation, if you download's browser, which has a very valuable list of proprietary plug-ins, and use their browser to browse the Web for at least 40 hours per month, you'll receive $16. If you tell your friends about it, you can get more than $1,000 dollars a month. (I wish my TV worked that way.) has a small window that opens on the face of your browser, which gives you changing banners while you're online; the advertiser pays for your time and, in turn, pays you. (See their Web site for details.)

This could almost be enough in itself to get thousands of sign-ups per month, but has gone further—a lot further! You get the advantage of using their language translators. You have to see them to believe what wonderful tools they are. For example, if you visit a foreign-language page, you can have one tool translate the page and see it in English or any other language you like. You can highlight a paragraph, and it will translate that for you, or you can invoke their little wizard, who will talk to you in the language of your choice and read the paragraph, phrase or the entire document for you. I even put them to the test and had a phrase translated both directions from English to Chinese and back to English. The sentence was slightly changed but the meaning was the same.

You might be wondering where found the programming talent to put this system together for them. The answer: Russia. Yuri Mordovskoi, who worked on the Russian space program, put together a team of 20 programmers from Russia, who provided the core technical talent that built Language Force. He is also's co-founder, along with Ian, Simpson, the company's sales and marketing guru.

With more and more World Wide Web customers coming online all over the world, translation is going to be more and more important. For instance, if you're selling a product to a person in another country, how do you provide customer support? It's becoming obvious that a 24-hour chat room in each language would be of great value. (If you haven't tried one of these, I recommend you give one a whirl.)

We asked Ian Simpson, CEO and co-founder, a few questions about

WWWiz: Now that you can get paid to browse the Web, we've finally gotten so cheap that we've crossed the line and are paying people to buy. Where does all this end?

Ian: Companies that prosper in the millennium will be the ones that share with their customers. What I mean by share is not just sharing the quality, but the money and the wealth from it. It's like an enormous buyers' club where everyone comes in to buy something and everyone gets something from that, a benefit. That will give you loyalty. What is so difficult to attain and maintain is consumer loyalty. One day they buy this brand and the next they buy another brand. What's going to keep people involved is the aspect of having a proprietary interest. People want a piece of the action. With it's not just a global portal for searching, but a global community of people who are participating in not only the knowledge of the world, but also the wealth of the consumer products of the world. People who use the browser get paid for using the browser and they share in the revenue generated from advertising. Also, the people that they refer will generate revenue for them. We know they will also be purchasing online, so we are in negotiation with the likes of Amazon and Ebay for discounts for our members. Whatever the discounts are, we put back into the members in the way of cash.

WWWiz: What do you see as barriers to entry for others who might try to do the same thing?

Ian: We don't think the barriers to entry are the issue here. We think our technology is unique. Our search engine portal is for the entire planet. You can go into Russia and search in their native language. Our technology is not just a browser, but a series of eight different plug-ins, which are high-end software that cost considerable money, but we are giving it away free. Another barrier to entry is, of course, speed to market. When you are the first and you have a good strong vision of the direction you want to go, and you can move the masses in that direction, you actually get the momentum.

We don't look so much at what competition might be coming; we're looking at our global solution. We don't look at it in terms of just America. When you look at the word "Internet," a word that America invented, you see a word that is restrictive. When you look at "World Wide Web," you see the whole world. We tend to speak only English because we are not a people that are bilingual. We often have a fear about other cultures and other people, which is not a world perspective. With our technology, the browser give you the ability to communicate with anyone in any language at any time.

WWWiz: Tell me about your language plug-in.

Ian: You can simply download a language plug-in anytime as long as you're an active member. It has a $99 value, and you get it for free if you surf 20 hours using our browser with the banner viewer on. Back to your other question, it's those that come first that are successful, and those that have a very close communication with their customers.

WWWiz: So you're launching this around the world?

Ian: Yes. We're launching globally in the UK, Europe, China and Japan. We can do this because languages are transparent to us. We're not bound by one particular language.

WWWiz: Tell me about your translator. What makes yours stand out?

Ian: The big difference is accuracy of translation. The Universal Translator technology is more accurate, it's self-loading, it's truly an innovation of its time as it allows you to translate any language any direction. This is the only one that does it. It will translate from English to Spanish, and back to English again. Some would say who cares if it translates any language any direction? Well, I think all of China might care, all of Japan might care, and all of Europe might care. Look at the matrix in Europe alone. What do you have—13 or 14 countries in Europe—and they don't have a common language. With the Universal Translator they can communicate with each other from French to Spanish, French to German, or German to Spanish—it doesn't matter which direction. It's about technology, and it's about Universal Translation.

WWWiz: Do you know how many people are signing up from other counties?

Ian: We do count that, and about 25% of the people signing up currently are from foreign countries. We're not promoting international members currently because we're keeping the integrity of the advertising dollars.

WWWiz: So you target your ads for the advertisers?

Ian: We want to target the American consumer for American ads. We're the most powerful advertising vehicle ever created for the Web. When I say powerful, I mean specifically targeted for them. We will be able very soon to sell pizzas for a vendor in Anaheim, to members who live in Anaheim. We know their qualifications as consumers and their demographics. We bring to the WWW a new level of consumer awareness and consumer buying trends, so each advertiser has that advantage of targeting them.

WWWiz: How many people do you expect to sign up and how soon?

Ian: We expect to be in the top 100 Web sites within 30 days.

WWWiz: Do you have a plan for scaling up as the number of users grows?

Ian: We've already done that. We're on the Exodus backbone right now. We're programmers, not just barking salespeople; we're inventors and programmers that are very thoroughly knowledgeable about the Internet.

WWWiz: Did you start out with a plan to have a million people online a day?

Ian: We didn't know we were going to explode the way it has, but we architect with a scalable architecture. This kind of explosion was totally unexpected by us. We did anticipate rapid growth, and created a Web farm with that in mind.

WWWiz: What does the world model look like, and how do you fit in?

Ian: We will be in Japan next month. The UK has free Internet now; Europe is also going all-free. What's killing people like AOL in Europe is that the Internet is free; it's like Netzero in the U.S. They're very ripe for what we're doing. What's happening is a worldwide explosion internationally this year. Currently the English portion of the Web is diminishing and within the next two years, English will represent about 30% of Web traffic. It will become important to be able to search non-English Web sites in English.

WWWiz: How much money can a person make browsing with your browser?

Ian: There's a calculator built into the site and it's easy to use. For each referral you bring in, you get 40 cents, 15 cents for the friend that they refer, and 20 cents for the one they refer. It goes three levels below you. It works out to 85 cents an hour if you have just a straight one-one-one. You have to look at the matrix. We have people already that have 300 or 400 people under them—that's a lot! We have one individual with over 1,000 people. Our calculator tells you how many members you have and calculates how much money you're going to make. You don't have to guess. If you put in your account number at, it will tell you how many people you have and how much money you're going to make. It's as simple as that.

WWWiz: How often do you pay?

Ian: We actually are paying money from advertising and the advertisers are paying us every 60 days. When you become a member, you'll be on the pay cycle and you won't get paid for 60 days, and that's just how it works. There is no free money. Web advertising is simply growing, and it's not going to slow down in the near future. We're all going to be sharing the advertising revenue from companies like Ford Motor or Jiffy Peanut Butter.


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