There are people who start websites to make money, people who start websites to deliver information, and people who start websites hoping to become famous.
Then there's Ed Yardeni.
All he wanted was a way to access - when away from his office - the data he uses to do his job as chief investment strategist for Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown in New York. The simplest way to do that, he reasoned, was to create a website.
Being mathematically inclined anyway, Mr. Yardeni took a practical approach: "I went to Barnes & Noble," he said.
Mr. Yardeni, who holds a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University, read three books and realized the file formats he was using for his data - Adobe Acrobat files and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets - transferred easily to the Internet.
"It was literally a no-brainer," he recalled.
From those humble beginnings in 1995 has grown one of the more comprehensive economics and investing sites on the web. Mr. Yardeni posts his regular stock market cycle analysis, in which he relates key economic and financial factors to stock price cycles. He also posts daily market commentary from Deutsche Bank analysts, as well as myriad charts, graphs, links, tables, reports and forecasts. Some of the analysis requires users to register and get a pass code.
The site has a busy, low-tech look about it, but frequent visitors can find what they need easily. And there is a steady stream of frequent visitors. Mr. Yardeni said the site gets up to 10,000 hits every day, which by his calculations translates into 3,000 unique users every day, assuming each person visits the site more than once a day.
The site has given Mr. Yardeni something of a celebrity status in the investing and economics worlds. People have approached him at conferences to thank him for the website and make suggestions for possible additions. Mr. Yardeni admits having his name as a web address has its advantages.
"It gives you an immense visibility," he said.
This web venture is a marketing dream: Maximum exposure with a minimum of expense. Mr. Yardeni called his website a "low-budget operation." He spent "a few thousand dollars" for the server, and that's about it. He brainstorms additions when he has some free time. Then his secretary, who handles the nuts and bolts of doing the updates, transmits his ideas to the website.
Early on, Mr. Yardeni admitted, he thought he might follow in the footsteps of other successful web entrepreneurs and be running www.yardeni.com from a sunny beach by now. Instead, he still goes in to the office most every day.
The difference now is he can take his office with him anywhere.