Internet Mogul of the Moguls

Dale Begg-Smith, a Canadian-born moguls skier who emigrated toAustralia several years back (becoming a citizen there),purportedly to take advantage of their much more relaxed nationalski program, won a gold medal at the Olympics yesterday. Congratulations toMr. Begg-Smith on the uncontestably extraordinaryperformance.

What makes Mr. Begg-Smith more interesting to those of us inthis profession, however, is his off-the-slopes careerpath.

If reports are true, he somehow managed to bag tens of millionsof dollars of net worth in the internet game over the past severalyears — the sort of things that get every other technologyworker’s spouse asking “Why can’t you do that?” Much like the .combubble, it gives the perception to some that there’s atremendous wad of easy money just floating around, waiting to begrabbed from the ether.

What really draws one’s attention, however, is how vagueMr. Begg-Smith is about what, financially at least, was a verysuccessful business venture. At 21 years old he appears to haveaccumulated more wealth than most will in their lifetime, and he’spursuing his dreams and darting around in Lamborghinis. I’ve seenhim described as a whiz-kid (he apparently dropped out of school at14 [!]), an internet mogul, an internet tycoon, an internet genius,and virtually every other “gee whiz!” descriptor that the mediapulls out when someone does well (by skill, or by luck) withtechnology. Yet he’s entirely secretive about what his businessdid, what its current state is, how big it is/was, and so on.

In the same situation most of us would be bragging unstoppablyto all that could hear about our business prowess.

The reason for the secrecy, apparently, is the nature of the business. If reports are true, Mr. Begg-Smith and his brothermade their fortune through the less savoury side of the net. Theside that most of us would neverconsider (which is why spammers and adware/spywareperpetrators manage to make so much money: There’s a lot of demandfor their services, but very few who are willing to provide it),technical capacity or not.

In any case, a lot of the backlash seems to be foundedin envy, which is sad. The guy financially did very well forhimself, and is demonstratably a world class athlete. All in all apretty remarkable accomplishment for 21.