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Chris Magyar

Ten years of gentle mockery: the charitable rise and (slight) fall of Peter Pan

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Remember Randy Constan? He was one of the first Internet celebrities, and the most interesting person I came across when idly scanning the 10-year-old 2001 Webby Awards. (Maybe I'm slowly working on a decade retrospective of how the web has changed. Maybe I'm an expert procrastinator. Let the judges decide.)

The most interesting thing, to me, on his aggressively green and spandex-sparkly site are the ten years of financial statements outlining his site revenues and resulting charitable contributions. Of course, given a spreadsheet, I make a graph.

Pan

What can we learn from this?

  1. Site hosting expenses (seen, roughly, as the gap between revenue and payout) have fallen drastically since 2002. It is cheaper than ever to host a personal domain, which makes it all the more curious that so few people bother to do so. Yes, the free hosting platforms are convenient -- heck, this site is on one -- but it's become a nearly trivial expense to be a personal webmaster.
  2. Despite most people remembering Randy as an early internet meme, his popularity, dollar-wise, actually peaked in 2007. According to his blog, this is about the time that he proposed to his wife, and site updates and television appearances fell off dramatically since then. (I'm guessing marital bliss, since his wife seems more the type to encourage Randy's randy-ness than curtail it.) 
  3. (Not pictured): If you're weird enough, and earnest enough to promise the dough to charity, you can get Conan O'Brien to pay you $150 to come on his show.
  4. His biggest exposure came in 2005, in terms of TV appearances and the release of his CD (oh, how I want to know what that sounds like), etc. The lesson here is, the benefits of fame are slow to accumulate, as his '04-'05 run didn't really kick in financially until '07. However, the fall-off from a lack of fame seems to be swift and sure.

His 2010 numbers were not completely posted, so I only had a charitable donation figure to go on there. Given recent trends, I would suspect that he continues to run the site at a slight loss and kick in personal cash (as he has for years) to make up the difference.

The end result of being an oddity who smiles while being the butt-end of jokes? About $12,000 in tax-deductible donations. What does it all mean? I don't know. Ask Double Rainbow Guy in about ten years. He seems to be asking himself already.

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