Teenager Turns Down Offer Of $2.5 million For Her Business

September 28, 2007

I’ve read plenty of claims about teenagers making lots of money online. And sometimes they’re just a lot of hype and nonsense. But one seventeen year old has achieved extraordinary business success.

Her name is Ashley Qualls and she’s doing very nicely online. In fact, according to Fast Company Magazine, she recently turned down $1.5 million dollars and the car of her choice, for her website - Whatever Life. And the girl clearly has her head screwed on for someone so young, as she’s just turned down another offer of $2.5 million


Ashley built the site when she was 14 years old, and it attracts more than 7 million unique visitors a month. And you’d be forgiven for thinking she must have had outside help. Her parents had no business experience, and the only financial investment she received was a loan of $8 from her mother to buy a domain name.

Whateverlife offers myspace type layouts for girls. It’s monetised mainly by Google Adsense and Value Click, and nets Ashley a whopping $70,000 a month.

Not only is Ashley becoming extremely rich - her business has also brought her celeb like fame. She recently appeared on CNN and she’s scheduled to appear on The View this evening. Plus she’s already signed up with a Hollywood talent agency and she’s thinking about writing a book on how she built her business.

Isn’t this a great story? Ashley really seems to have her head screwed on. And if she’s already been offered $2.5 million for her business, you can bet it’s worth a heap more. So, I think she’s smart to hang onto it. But, obviously not all teenagers could handle this type of business success. Would you encourage your child to start a business so young. And what advice would you give to Ashley?

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16 Responses to “Teenager Turns Down Offer Of $2.5 million For Her Business”

  1. WarriorBlog on September 28th, 2007 7:47 pm

    Yeah I have read before and that is amazing. She is doing what she love and thats why she makes so much.

    P.S. Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling good this last week :-)

  2. SEO Optimization on September 28th, 2007 8:57 pm

    The part of “she is in love in some young guy” it sounds so similar to the Facebook owners story.

    An advice to Ashley, why in the hell would you sell for 2.5 million USD a site which generates 70k USD a month (roughly 8.4 million USD a year)? She is so young that by the age of 27 (if the business will do well all that time, and myspace is getting back to popularity) she would earn what…oh you do the math ;) but you can bet that she can enjoy her life at the best age and not to worry about working schedules, waking up early in the morning etc.. etc..

  3. Barbara on September 28th, 2007 9:22 pm

    Now, watch her numbers sore, with all of the publicity.

    I think this is fantastic. It’s proof for everyone, of all ages, that if you follow your passion, success is right behind.

    She will be a great role model for young people, from all walks of life.

    I also like how her mother “loaned” her $8. That says a lot about her upbringing. i.e. If you want something bad enough, then you’ll have to work for it. Her mother must be very proud.

    I would encourage her to invest wisely, don’t get caught up in the publicity, and “watch your backside”. I’m sure she will have lots of “new friends” (not!), coming out of the wood work.

    Too young at 17? She may be 17 going on 26, whereas, others are 26 going on 17. She sounds mature for her age. I think she will do great.

  4. Ian on September 29th, 2007 5:46 am

    It’s a great success story. She must be mature-minded to create what she has.

    I suppose she should keep it, but I do sometimes wonder if we’re in another dot com bubble period.

    Will the internet, blogs and social networking sites have an element of fashion? What’s fashionable today, can become the opposite the next day?

    I don’t know the answer really, but I do have this weird sense that things are changing far more rapidly than we realise, and it could one of those periods where we look back in a year or two and wonder why we never spotted the big, underlying trend.

    I just wonder whether the big players are here to stay this time. Some are - Google etc. But will Facebook, MySpace and blogs be the same in 2 years? Will the minor league players still be here? The John Chow’s of this world?

    Or will they become unfashionable? Will others overtake them? Is it the equivalent of 15 minutes of fame and a rapid fall from grace?

    I’m just not certain that the rulebook has been written yet for what I see as the second explosion of the Internet.

    For example, Casey Serin (anyone remember him?), he had 15 minutes of fame, and sold his blog. Was it really worth anything? Is the current owner realising his investment? How could anyone buy a blog where the value was in a short-lived story and the individual behind it?

    When I see similar parallels and patterns as we saw in the dot com boom (althogh I suspect not on the same scale financially), I do wonder.

    That’s why I do wonder if it may be a good idea for Ashely to sell while it’s good. She’s young enough and now famous enough to go do something else.

    And I do wonder how success at such a young age may well make her miss a little growing up - mature or not, you still don’t really know who you are at that age. You’re still building an identity for yourself . Or am I talking about blokes here! We don’;t mature at all, and at the very least have to wait until our 40’s to get even a modicum of maturity!

  5. cathlawson on September 29th, 2007 10:30 am
    Sean - thanks. Yes I think doing what she loves is a key to her success. I don’t think she started it with the intention of making money as she didn’t monetise it for a long time.

    Astrit - you added an extra 0 on by accident! Still she may be making more as people are probably just guessing on her earnings.

    Barbara - good point. I guess it’s not the age that matters, it’s the person.

    Ian - I’m not sure about a bubble. Last time, nothing was making a profit. And sites that were had ridiculous price to earnings ratios, which hasn’t happened yet. But, when Google published their last quarterly report, their shares dropped even though they performed only a few cents per share less than projected. So the market is really putting pressure on these companies to outperform.

    And you are right about things changing and people getting left behind, unless they change. That will always happen

  6. SEO Optimization on September 29th, 2007 12:41 pm

    Ouch it was a 0 that makes lots of difference tho, $800k i meant *blushes*

  7. cathlawson on September 29th, 2007 5:44 pm
    Astrit - it’s not your fault you suck at maths. Only joking - easy mistake to make and she’s still making a bloody fortune, even with that 0 off.

    Ian - I hadn’t heard of Casey Serin so I just had a quick search about. Am I right in understanding that he comitted fraud, then he was stupid enough to blog about it when the shit hit the fan?

    It said somewhere that he sold the blog for $20k but I don’t know the url so I don’t know how it’s doing now.

  8. Bontb on September 29th, 2007 6:14 pm

    Yes I read that somewhere else, but from so many people only 1 got lucky. I mean how many bloggers is out there that are desperate to make money or to be famous blogger but they just don’t get lucky….

    I guess if you have good idea and follow your goals what you would like to do with your life, you can do it.

  9. cathlawson on September 29th, 2007 7:04 pm
    Hi Bontb - thanks for commenting. One thing you said really stood out - “they’re desperate to make money”. And this may be why they fall down. Desperation to make money alone is not the best foundation for building a successful business.
  10. Ian on September 29th, 2007 9:17 pm

    Casey Serin was a barrel of laughs! The blog was http://iamfacingforeclosure.com.

    He”d get at least 100 comments on most posts. Sometimes as many as 300. And it was al drivel really - but very amusing. The commenters were more entertaining than him.

    In many respects he was a victim. He wasn’t as bad as people made out - but he was a fraudster though!

    I think the story became interesting because of jealousy.

    He did appear to make an awful lot of money from his blog (and book!), but you couldn’t ever get to the truth.

    It was like a daily soap opera than a standard blog. Some of it was hyped I’m sure, but it was fascniating nontheless!

  11. cathlawson on September 29th, 2007 10:41 pm
    Thanks Ian - The site is still there - but no blog.

    I see he appeared on the Robert Kyosaki show. I don’t have anything against Robert personally. In fact, he wrote some good books.

    But when someone is telling half the world that they can all do something and get rich (eg. flip houses) it’s never going to work out is it? Especially when they’re all trying to do the same thing at the same time.

    So, I wonder what happened to Casey Serin then after the blog and all?

  12. The Foo on September 30th, 2007 1:02 am

    this story is a great one and she’s really mature beyond her age. i’m always happy to see someone work hard and achieve something like she has. i won’t sell it either if my blog was worth 8 million or so.

    however, it just makes you wonder whether it would be worth that in a few years. internet users have a very short attention span and may go to the next latest fad very quickly. if myspace is still popular 3-4 years form now, that’ll be great but if it is not, then her business might have gone from $70,000 a month to less than $100. And if that was the case, she might regret ever turning down 2 million.

    Saying that, i am sure that she is wise enough to have a lot of that income in the bank and earning interest. If she plays her cards right, she is basically financially secure for the rest of her life.

    i saw Casey Serin on TV early in the year. Good thing for him to close down his blog and properly deal with his problems especially with the FBI. not sure whether his blog is worth 20k though.

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