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Around The Sun: Turning My Back On Millions Of Dollars

Steve Harrison rues the day he turned down the opportunity to become a millionaire.

I did trade shows for years, spruiking and flogging my heart out. At computer shows I presented the merits of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Quark Xpress and I certainly drew large crowds. I loved every minute of it. I exhausted myself but I met some great people.

A company called InfoMagic was one of the main software dealers. They used my services extensively and were always generous towards me. The main guy there was David Fox a super friendly outgoing and hard working soul. David and I got on very well. We shared a passion for not only the technology but also for the music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. We attended live gigs, drinking and drooling over Cave's lyrics.

After several years David’s partner Graham decided to dissolve the company and liquidate the partnership. Meanwhile David had married a young lady called Kelli who was a spiritual searcher. She was involved in Tarot readings, astrology, crystals, you name it. They both knew something of my dabblings in those mysterious crafts. David asked if I was interested in a business venture. He had registered the name astrology.com and was going to put daily star readings on the internet. To me the idea was old hat. I was all washed out on astrology, thinking the market was saturated. . Heck you couldn’t read a British newspaper without having astrology thrust in your face.

David was undetered. He was going to America to pursue his dream. He got his payout from InfoMagic and flew to Silicon Valley to set up shop. We kept in touch by e-mail. Every time there was a Nick Cave concert he was back in Sydney. He'd be wearing an old Apple computer t-shirt. We'd get together, enjoy the music, then he was off again.

Around 1998 there was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about Australians who had gone to America and made mega millions. They were now some of the wealthiest men in the States. One of them was a David Fox who was married to a lady called Kelli. His company astrology.com had just been bought by a huge conglomerate for $750 million.

This was a Saturday morning. When I checked my e-mail there was a message from David. He said there was a Nick Cave concert at the Enmore Theatre. He was in Australia and intended to get some tickets. He would come over to my house before we went on to the concert.

About two hours later he rang to say he had the tickets. Soon after that he was at the front door, wearing the usual scruffy t-shirt and old jeans.

We drank tea while he told me all about the sale of his company. My mind reeled at the sums of money he talked about.

“But you are still wearing that old Apple t-shirt.''

He said he was worth $130 million, not the reported $750 million, adding "It's funny money.''

All that money, and he hadn't even bought a new pair of jeans. Though he had bought an old Italian Lamborghini supercar. He had arrived back in Australia on the previous day and had been surfing off Whale Beach. He thought he might buy a house there, but he couldn't decide which one to buy.

I told him he could buy the whole beach if he wanted to do so.

The Nick Cave concert was terrific. We had a great night. I couldn't help thinking how good it would be to have a few millions in a bank account.

David told me he had tried for years to become a US citizen. Soon after the sale of his company he had been offered citizenship. Funny, that.

The dot.com crash came not long afterwards. David had taken 10 per cent in cash for his company and the rest in stock. His wealth was considerably reduced, but he still probably had enough cash to buy the whole of Whale Beach.

Not too long ago David rang me for a chat. What other goodies had he bought with his new-found wealth? Nothing much. Was he still driving the driving the Lamborghini around at 55mph? Apparently he and his friends flew their cars up to some northern state where they could drive at top speed.

If anyone ever approaches me again with an idea I will probably ignore my better judgement when it tells me not to get involved.

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