Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the October 18, 2000

edition

of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Amway for the Internet?

Combine hotmail.com and an Internet Service Provider

with an Amway-style sales organization — and what you get is

SkyBiz.com. Add in ways to fund raise for nonprofits, and you have an

unusual

but potentially profitable multilevel marketing firm.

At least that’s what Thomas E. Burke claims. Burke, a former

Princeton resident who now lives in Palm Beach, speaks at a free

seminar

on Tuesday, October 24, at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Route 1 South

at Ridge Road. Also on the program is Monza Cornell, an

entrepreneur

and SkyBiz participant. Pre-register by E-mail with name, address,

E-mail, and phone to claimyourshare@Skybiz.com or fax 908-359-4749.

For information go to www.skyboom.com/claimyourshare or call Donna

M. Thiel at 908-359-3349.

Burke says that SkyBiz wants to make sure that everyone on the planet

has a website. In this respect, SkyBiz is in the same frame of mind

as the Sarnoff Corporation, which has put forth a proposal to the

regulators to allot domain names (Web addresses) to individuals

(www.princetoninfo.com/200010/01018f02.html). But

whereas Sarnoff would set itself up only to assign the names, letting

other companies provide dial-up and website services, SkyBiz is

selling

the services.

SkyBiz customers — organizations or individuals — pay a $25

one-time fee and $100 per year. For this, each gets a dial-up Internet

access, a website to use for any purpose, business or personal, plus

unlimited online education including computer and Internet

instruction,

and Windows courses — 3.1, 95, or 98. The website can hold up

to 35 megs (equivalent to seven Bibles, says Burke). If clients choose

to participate in marketing the program, they get a second website

free.

Burke says that SkyBiz is the second largest website provider in the

world and aims to become the largest by January. Founded just two

years ago in Carson City, Nevada, this network marketing firm claims

to be adding 5,000 to 6,000 websites per day. SkyBiz now has more

than 1,340,000 websites in 206 countries and 22 different languages,

and has more phone lines than AOL.

"The reason you haven’t heard of it is that only this year the

company started marketing in the United States," says Burke.

Previous

marketing was in Asia and South America. "We did very well there

because all business is contracted out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and

commissions

are paid in U.S. dollars, a badly wanted currency. This is why it

has really spread."

"We are not a household word yet, but we are totally debt

free,"

says Burke. Commissions start at $70 for the sale of nine websites

in one week, which may seem paltry to an American, but to get that

overseas, and paid in U.S. dollars, could be very desirable.

"Mostly

we have grown by word of mouth, advertising and presentations, and

sharing of opportunity," says Burke.

Burke went to the University of Washington at Seattle. He has had

a commercial mortgage firm, a real estate acquisition and development

company, an international trading company, and a passenger cruise

line. His resume shows that he is on the board of six charities and

is involved in 22 others (E-mail: Thomasburke@skybiz.com or

www.skynary.com/tburke).

SkyBiz has paid more than $68 million in commissions, says Burke.

Seventy percent of the money, he says, goes back out to the marketing

group, and the rest is used to operate the company. A 13-year-old

firm, World Services Corp., based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, provides most

of the back office operations and customer service capabilities for

SkyBiz.

Like Amway, Burke says, SkyBiz offers both immediate and ongoing

residual

income. Churches and other religious organizations qualify to get

a free website, but nonprofits buy the websites at the usual price.

Commissions for any websites bought through the church or nonprofit

will accrue to those organizations. In other words, if your group

would say yes to selling Amway, then it might want to consider selling

websites.

The commission scale is extremely complicated, but those who sell

nine websites in one week would apparently get a check of $70. Higher

commissions are supposedly accumulated from the ever-expanding pool

of pass-through affiliations.

Donna M. Thiel, one of the sponsors for this seminar, says her

income has been minimal so far, partly because it takes more time

to get an organization to sign up than it does for an individual.

An active member of the Father’s House Christian Fellowship in High

Bridge, she is concentrating on nonprofits and is introducing SkyBiz

to various churches and ministries. She works for an electronic

staffing

company and is also participating in another networking marketing

company, a health and nutrition line called Tahitian Noni Juice.

"This

is innovative for nonprofits," she says, "and it is more fun

than selling health products."

It’s OK to E-mail your friends, neighbors, parishioners, and

supporters

about the opportunity, but don’t send gang E-mails. "Skybiz does

not tolerate spamming," says Burke.

The inevitable question: Is this a pyramid scheme? Burke denies that.

"We are providing a product and service, websites and education,

not a pyramid scheme," says Burke. Skybiz’s website —

anticipating

questions about pyramid schemes — notes that "pyramid"

refers to network marketing companies that are illegal because they

pay compensation primarily for the recruitment of people instead of

for sales of products. "SkyBiz 2000 only pays compensation on

sales of products."

Burke also notes that the product is "under priced, not over

priced,

as is the case with many network marketing companies." He cites

the fact that most ISPs charge $240 per year for dial-up access alone,

whereas the SkyBiz website and dial-up costs $100 per year. Also,

Burke says, "most laws and regulations covering the network

marketing

industry are designed to protect people from losing money on schemes

that require some payment. SkyBiz 2000 does not require any such

payment,

so there is no investment to lose."

Except for the $125 you pay for one year’s website, the time you spend

building it, and the time you take to convince your friends that they

want one, too.

— Barbara Fox


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