Six figures for three words

Bentley freshman Mark?Bao sits in front of a monitor displaying the Web hits 
for his social networking site: 5.1 million page hits and 17.8 million page views.

Just days after Bentley University freshman Mark Bao launched his website Threewords.me late last month, he woke up to 125,000 new page views. It wasn’t long before he received more than 220,000 page views in a two-hour span.

To date, the site that allows people to describe their friends in three words has 17.8 million page views.

“I coded the idea and put it online with friends on Facebook and it sort of started catching on,” Bao said. “Eventually, we started to get thousands of new users and millions of page views.”

Now he’s shopping the site to buyers willing to pay six figures, partially because he doesn’t have a viable business model.  

“A lot of the people putting in offers have more experience in monetizing free stuff like this,” said Bao, 18, whose parents don’t know the offers are so large. “The viral aspect is immensely cool but I have a lot of other things I’m working on.”

Growing up in Wellesley, Bao created his first online business when he was five. He recently applied to the Thiel Fellowship, which requires 20 winners under 20 to quit school to work on start-ups.

Even if he ends up staying in school, Bao’s winter break was probably more productive than any semester he’ll log at Bentley.

“I’m enrolling in a Web 2.0 class,” he said. “I guess I did some Web 2.0 things.”

This thing is catching

Despite the fact that “viral” made Lake Superior State University’s 2011 List of Banished Words, there is no better way to describe Threewords.me.

So far 259,000 friends of friends have signed up for Mark Bao’s new social-networking site that could fetch six figures.

“That is the definition of viral,” said Greg Gomer of BostInnovation.com, “when you have someone sign up for something and 10 of their friends sign up.”


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