Ashley Qualls, 18 / Whateverlife.com
What began with a 14-year-old noodling around with HTML code to create brightly colored web pages has turned into a company worth more than a million dollars. Ashley Qualls’s web site, Whateverlife.com, is a favorite destination for young girls looking to “pimp” their MySpace page with awareness ribbons, buttons, quotes, and glitter-all of which can be pasted on top of more than 5,000 layout designs.
Initially, the site didn’t garner much attention outside Qualls’ coterie of gal pals. But within a year after she began designing customized MySpace pages, the site was generating 60 million pages views a month. Even better, it was generating more than $50,000 a month in sales. Qualls has since landed a couple of big marketing deals.
The extent of Whateverlife’s popularity was made clear three years ago when Columbia Records decided to bypass radio and promote the Jonas Brothers-then a barely known pop act-exclusively online. The company placed a three-part video on Whateverlife, and within two months some 60,000 JoBro fans uploaded the video to their MySpace pages.
Ashley ultimately dropped out of high school to run the business, which she manages today from a four-bedroom house she bought just outside Detroit. In 2007, she turned down an offer from MySpace for $1.5 million (plus the car of her choosing). It’s a decision she may live to regret: Whateverlife traffic has dropped precipitously, from 7 million visitors a month to around 550,000, according to the web-measurement firm Quantcast.