COMMAND CENTRAL Frind recently increased his staff from zero to three and moved operations from his bedroom to a nearby office tower." alt="COMMAND CENTRAL Frind recently increased his staff from zero to three and moved operations from his bedroom to a nearby office tower."t 10 o'clock in the morning, Markus Frind leaves his apartment and heads to work. The problem is that he is still getting used to the idea of a commute that involves traveling farther than the distance between the living room and the bedroom.
It's a short walk through downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, but somehow the trek feels arduous. Frind's online dating company, Plenty of Fish, is newly located on the 26th floor of a downtown skyscraper with a revolving restaurant on the roof.
It's from Video Egg, a San Francisco company that is paying Frind to run a series of Budweiser commercials in Canada. with more than that." Five years ago, he started Plenty of Fish with no money, no plan, and scant knowledge of how to build a Web business. Its traffic is four times that of dating pioneer Match, which has annual revenue of $350 million and a staff that numbers in the hundreds. Today, he employs just three customer service workers, who check for spam and delete nude images from the Plenty of Fish website while Frind handles everything else.
Like most of his advertising deals, this one found Frind. Today, according to the research firm Hitwise, his creation is the largest dating website in the U. Amazingly, Frind has set up his company so that doing everything else amounts to doing almost nothing at all.
He hadn't even heard of Video Egg until a week ago. "I usually accomplish everything in the first hour," he says, before pausing for a moment to think this over.
But then, you tend to attract advertisers' attention when you are serving up 1.6 billion webpages each month. "Actually, in the first 10 or 15 minutes." To demonstrate, Frind turns to his computer and begins fiddling with a free software program that he uses to manage his advertising inventory.
While he is doing this, he carps about Canada's high income taxes, a serious problem considering that Plenty of Fish is on track to book revenue of $10 million for 2008, with profit margins in excess of 50 percent. "Most of the time, I just sit on my ass and watch it." There's so little to do that he and his girlfriend, Annie Kanciar, spent the better part of last summer sunning themselves on the French Riviera.
Then, six minutes 38 seconds after beginning his workday, Frind closes his Web browser and announces, "All done." All done? Frind would log on at night, spend a minute or two making sure there were no serious error messages, and then go back to sipping expensive wine.
A year ago, they relaxed for a couple of weeks in Mexico with a yacht, a captain, and four of Kanciar's friends. "Rough life." As Frind gets up to leave, I ask him what he has planned for the rest of the day. "Maybe I'll take a nap." t's a 21st-century fairy tale: A young man starts a website in his spare time. He hasn't gone to MIT, Stanford, or any other four-year college for that matter, yet he is deceptively brilliant.
He has been bouncing aimlessly from job to job, but he is secretly ambitious.
He builds his company by himself and from his apartment.
In most stories, this is where the hard work begins -- the long hours, sleepless nights, and near-death business experiences. Frind takes it easy, working no more than 20 hours a week during the busiest times and usually no more than 10.
Five years later, he is running one of the largest websites on the planet and paying himself more than million a year.