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Marshall Hays, left, Joe Hanish and Clark Allen get
creative with entertainment sites like
More than staplers and kisses; Hays Internet
Marketing’s ‘waste of time’ sites serve as creative outlet
|Who would have thought that a Web site
featuring an interactive stapler would draw a crowd? Apparently,
Marshall Hays and his colleagues at Hays Internet Marketing Inc. in
Dallas did. The site VirtualStapler.com has become a popular
entertainment destination since its debut a couple of months ago.
But its popularity pales in comparison with Hays’ other pet
project, VirtualKiss.com, which reels in 5 million page views per
Other “waste of time” sites run by Hays (www.hays.net)
include Datingfun.com, Chatfreak.com, Stayinshape.com,
WhoDoYouLove.com, DailyFashion.com, and WasteOfTime.com.
list will get longer with the company’s upcoming release of
TooDrunk.com and TooSober.com. In the meantime, Marshall Hays is
promoting his dating sites and expertise around Dallas and as a
co-host of DFWDating, a weekly radio show aired on KYNG-FM
Of course, all of this dating and entertainment
activity can’t keep Hays and his team from their day job —
developing Web sites for their clients.
“I don’t know
anything but doing 600 things at once,” Hays said. But it’s that
diversity that keeps him and his team excited about work.
Where creating sites like VirtualKiss.com serves as a
creative outlet, doing work for outside clients pays the bills. It’s
because of customers like Digital Convergence Corp., AT&T Corp.,
Infomart and Fujitsu ICL Systems Inc. that Hays and his six-member
staff are able to get paid for having fun.
In fact, because
the company is busy with client work, the entertainment sites have
been developed to practically run by themselves, Hays
“We have to make the back-end interfaces very
user-friendly,” he said.
Of course, it can be difficult to
sell to clients based on work done for an entertainment site aimed
at teen-age girls, especially when the potential client is in a more
“When I go meet clients, I tell them
how we can do promotional and back-end database stuff and I show
them VirtualKiss.com. And a lot of these old guys say, ‘That’s nice,
but we’re not selling kisses to little girls,’ ” Hays said. But once
he demonstrates the features of the site’s database, those clients
tend to see things differently.
Due to plummeting ad sales in
the Internet sector, Hays said he’s seen a 90 percent drop in
advertising sales for his entertainment sites. However, the demand
for Web development continues to remain strong.
Hays founded the company in 1996 upon graduation from Southern
Methodist University with his master’s degree in business
administration. His plan wasn’t to go out and start a business; in
fact, he wanted to wait a couple years until he had some corporate
experience under his belt.
But with the Internet economy
just taking off, Hays couldn’t refuse the opportunity. With the help
of his friend Clark Allen, he started up the Web development and
It was the firm’s site, VirtualKiss that
attracted the third co-founder Joe Hanish, who received an “e-kiss”
from his girlfriend.
“I wrote them and told them I thought
it was a cool idea, but it could be made better,” said Hanish, who
has been programming computers since he was 14. At the time, Hanish
was working at an Internet company in New Jersey and was looking for
something “more positive” to do.
Hanish moved to Dallas and
the rest is history.
Hays doesn’t dismiss the incredible
competition within the Web development industry, but the variety of
firms narrows the market a bit.
“You can get business cards
that cost $14 or that cost $2,000,” he said.
applies to Web development. Just because someone can design a Web
site doesn’t put him or her in the same category.