I am not yet a billionaire, and frankly it's killing me. I've got a college reunion coming up, and the thought of facing my peers before I own a Pacific island or at least a few senators is more than I can bear.

This failing on my part is surprising. Every time I go to the grocery store, I read the enthusiastic covers of all the personal finance magazines, and yet I still do not have "A Million Dollar Nest Egg," nor have I been able to "Stop Working Now."

Understand that I'm not after comfort or satisfaction or a meaningful job. I just want to chuckle sympathetically when I read in The Wall Street Journal about the challenges of raising "real kids" after receiving a $600 million bonus.

As anyone who's been watching "The Nightly Business Report" or MTV knows, the key to gonzo wealth is the Internet and something called an IPO (Incredibly Public Ostentatiousness). But sending chain letters over the Internet isn't enough. (Trust me.) You've got to have a sophisticated business concept that takes advantage of the awesome power of the new new technology. Like a Web cam pointed at the fish bowl in your dorm room ( en_aquarium.htm ).

So far, I've come up with several "killer apps" - no relation to "killer abs," which I tried to develop last year. (Note to Suzanne Somers: You're wrong. It doesn't work for everybody.)

Each of my high-concept ideas adheres to the new paradigm that venture capital is looking for. My plans are: (1) completely useless, and (2) have no past, current, or projected profitability.

Having worked as a college professor and a book reviewer, I know I can meet both these standards. The challenge, though, is to carve out a niche on a Web that's already so tangled with high-profile, no-profit dotcoms.

Amazon has set the standard pretty high. They've built a market capitalization the size of Germany by convincing people they'd rather order books sight-unseen and pay to receive them a week later than take them immediately after browsing through a cozy store.

The clever entrepreneur, however, can still find golden opportunities in this brave new world of convergence:

*Anyone who gets dressed in the morning - non-billionaires - knows the frustration of matching dark socks. No more! We put the 'o' in socks at Users will click on this Java-enhanced site for all their sock-matching needs, from those effete business socks to white hightops.

Substantial advertising revenue is expected from footwear manufacturers eager to reach our sock-savvy Netizens. (Estimated first-year losses: $3.8 million.)

*For surfers who can't part with their computers, we've turned the Internet into the hairnet. Who needs the frustration of buying a comb at the drugstore when you need it? That's so 20th century! At, you can select from our growing catalog of more than 1,400 combs and receive your order in 10 to 14 business days. (The long-delayed sister-site,,will be launched next year, pending regulatory rulings.)

*No Kleenex at hand when you need it? Members of will be laughing all the way to the bank. Now, anyone with Internet access and a color printer can select, download, and print out the tissue they'd like to use - on common office paper! It's The Way Tissue Was Meant To Be.

Venture capitalists interested in pursuing these exciting new ideas are advised to contact me via e-mail ASAP.

*Ron Charles is the Monitor's book editor.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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