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Mom, Dad And The Whole Dot.com Thing

Models dressed for the catwalk line up backstage before American fashion company Baby Phat's show in Moscow on Oct. 23, 2006.
Getty Images/Pascal Le Segretain
Many young dot.com millionaires are giving new meaning to the concept of family business. It's a case of role reversal, where parents have started to work for their kids.

Marc Bell, 32, is the chairman and CEO of Globix, an internet infrastructure company -- Marc's Globix stock is currently worth $185 million. His mom, Ruth, is the events coordinator for the company. And his dad, Robert, who's in London, is executive vice president of business development.

Marc said he hired his parents because his business was growing and he needed lots of help. "Who better to turn to than family?" he asked, rhetorically.

"They're both very smart. I learned a lot from them. They were great support systems. And I asked them if they can help me grow the business," said Marc.

His mother, Ruth, had to be convinced a bit to work for her son.

"I had my own business and was very happy," she said. "Every six months, Marc would ask me if I would join him and I said, 'No, I'm fine doing my own thing.' One day, he was barbecuing in the garage because it was raining and he said, 'The company is really growing. I would love for you to come on board.' I said, I'll think about it. He said, 'No. Yes or no, now.' I said 'Yes, and it is the best decision I've ever made."

"My work is my play. I love what I'm doing," she added. "I get to see him every day. It is a bonus."

Marc's father says his son is the consummate CEO of a company.

"My background is finance. I knew about starting companies and running them. And Marc would come to me and we would discuss and he pretty much followed my lead," explains Robert. "As time went on, he became more and more in charge…He has a grasp of the business, of the finance, of the people, that I couldn't possibly have. And I'm not interested in having. So that at this point in time, I completely follow his direction. There is no reason not to. He has learned. He has come the full way."

Robert said the biggest downside to working for his kid is having to draw a line between family and business.

"He is my son. I will always treat him as a son. I will always look at him as my son. And I will never, ever let the business get in way of that relationship. And it has worked fine. I mean, we have not had conflict. It has been a changeover from my lead to his lead. And he has taken it with great skill."

Christine Herron is the founder of a start-up e-commerce company called Mercury2. Her mother, Josie, is a database manager with the company.

Christine explains why she recruited her mother to work for her internet company.

"Mercury2 has a fairly heavy database component, giving or doing the back end for international sales for online companies. And my mom has been doing enterprise database systems for 20 years. I could not have found someone that experienced, much less been able to recruit them coming to work for a little startup unless they wre related," said Christine.

Josie picked up and moved cross country, from Florida to California, to work for her daughter, after "guilt trips galore" from her daughter.

"She would tell me, 'Mom, you need to come here. I need you.'"

Josie's advice to anyone who might work for a relative is to focus all the time on the job at hand.

"It is very easy to probably forget that you're there as a professional rather than as a family member. But I'm very careful…to pay attention as to, you know, when it is work time and when it is play time and family time," said Josie.