Dot-Com Teens In A Class By Themselves

000622_millionaire internet entrepreneurs CBS

For 19-year-old Angelo Sotira, life is not only about carrying books to school, but walking to the tune of a different beat than most teenagers.

He is the CEO of an Internet music company, and hobnobs with Internet power brokers. He has reached career heights most can only dream about, before even starting college.

"It's very strange seeing other people my age and what they do and how they are. I really appreciate it. I'm jealous of it in some ways but only in very few limited ways, but I would never trade what I'm doing for it.," said Sotira, president of dmusic.com.

dmusic.com is a company that promotes up-and-coming bands online. It all started when Angelo was 15 and decided to create a Web page for his girlfriend to chat about music. It quickly exploded into one of the top sites on the Internet to find and trade songs.

"I never thought I could make money off of this thing. I was having so much fun just running the company, than I signed up an ad sponsor who would rotate ads and I made apparently $5, he said.

Before long, he was raking in offers to buy the business, to the tune of millions of dollars. He initially refused, not wanting to relinquish control of his creation. Then entertainment mogul Mike Ovitz called.

"When I told my mom that Michael Ovitz or somebody from Michael Ovitz's company had called, she was like, 'what? Are you sure?'" he said.

He struck a deal with Ovitz and was on his way to Hollywood with his mom.

"I was not about to let my son at 18 move out to Beverly Hills in the entertainment industry alone, not quite yet," his mother said.

Although Angelo's story may sound like the script from a Hollywood movie, it's not and he's not alone. About 1.5 million teens have started Internet businesses, and a growing number of teen-age entrepreneurs are finding million-dollar success before they can even vote.

"A lot of it starts as a hobby, pursuing an area of interest that ends up taking off and turning into a business opportunity. They're making more money on the Internet as a group perhaps than many adults are," said Misty Elliott, publisher of Young Biz magazine.

"Our top three kids on our list, their average income was $434,000," added Elliott.

But some psychologists worry that teenage entrepreneurs are shortchanging themselves by missing out on just being kids. "If they do hit it big and they're very successful and they get lots of money early on in life, there's a depression that sets in after that because, where do they go from there?" said Sheila Krasnoff, teen psychologist.

But Angelo says his only concern is the competition. "In terms of building Internet companies, I'm really worried about the 12 year-olds of today," said Angelo.

So much so, that he'll continue working 15 hours a day, seven days a week to stay one step ahead of tomorrow's teens.


  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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