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A Bit About AliceHill.com
By Mary Coombs, staff writer
What started as an ironic protest against vanity websites, Alicehill.com has quickly morphed into a mini-community of technology-obsessed, scooter-driving, hardware-loving people. Just like Alice herself.
When Ralph Lauren launched his own content website, Alice Hill said "that's it." Hot on the heels of Oprah magazine, and MarthaStewart.com, the truly personal content website, according to Hill, "is the latest and perhaps most annoying web trend since the B2B exchange." Which is why she decided to immediately launch her own domain.
And then something very strange happened.
When Hill left CNET, Inc. in late January of this year she said good-by to the 2 million readers of her weekly CNET newsletter in a final mailing, and then left her AOL email address for people to say a more personal good-by. She also left town. According to AOL, Hill's mailbox reached the 2,500 message capacity in under an hour and most people were unable to get through for months. Alice herself remembered reading the wonderful emails from her readers, while desperately trying to clear her inbox as it instantly refilled with new incoming mail.
"The reader emails made all the hard work worth it. But I just couldn't keep up with the volume." she said sadly.
Hill immediately began working on a new Internet start-up, Cornerhardware.com - a site that specialized in a different sort of hardware coverage: home improvement hardware of the faucet and pipe variety. "I needed to do something new, and I had just bought a house" Hill explained. "Home Improvement to me was also the perfect commerce category." After Hill's site redesign, Cornerhardware experienced a jump in sales of over 200%. "That was easy." Hill said, downplaying her success. "CNET taught me a lot of about building websites."
Meanwhile, Alice began getting emails from CNET readers who had somehow managed to track her down. "I have no idea how they found me, but I'm glad they did" she said laughing. Hill decided that to let others find her, and to poke a little fun at vanity sites, she would create her own "dot-com." As traffic ramps with no outside sales or marketing expenditures, Hill is trying to figure out what to do with her unexpected success. "I love my readers, and I'm glad they like having this place to come to. Looks like I have a lot of work to do on this site!"
Alice Hill attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville New York, earning a BA. Sarah Lawrence is highly respected liberal arts college, known for its prestigious writing department and world class faculty. According to Alice, it was also known to her parents as "the second most expensive school in the country. Arrggghhh!" There was no indication at any time in college that Alice would fall in love with computers yet alone devote her professional life to technology, but Hill did spend a great deal of time writing at Sarah Lawrence.
Alice also attended Oxford University at Oxford's venerable Wadham College. The Oxford university system is comprised of over 30 different colleges. Wadham is one of the oldest. Living in England taught Alice to drive on the left (in the US, that translates to: the fast lane) and to instantly convert foreign currencies in her head when the British pound did its crazy dance during the 80's. Both skills, according to Hill have helped her get where she is today.
See sidebar on the right for Hill's professional background.
Photo: J. Marrin, 2000