You’ll likely remember the story of a 16-year-old British girl who had what appeared to be the best idea ever — make some serious bank by helping to give Chinese babies more appropriate English names online. Well, it turns out that you might want to hold off on your copycat business venture for the time being.
Earlier this month, Gloucestershire Live and the BBC reported that British teenager Beau Jessup had made £48,000 via a clever website dedicated to helping Chinese kids avoid a lifetime of embarrassment with an English name like “Gandalf.” The story was picked up by outlets across the world, including yours truly.
Now, however, Buzzfeed has a few questions for Special Name. For instance, why is the company staffed by stock photos?
Why can you Google image search “Asian babies” and promptly find photos of the babies that the site claims to have specially named?
And why is the domain name registered to an employee of bigredbus-english.cn — a site that helps to educate Chinese kids on English culture, and is owned by The Great British Teddy Bear Company, whose CEO happens to be Beau Jessup’s father?
In response to these questions, Special Name’s PR company Up Communications explained away the stock images by telling Buzzfeed that Beau had designed the website herself, and she is only a teenager after all. The PR company also explained that in order to register a Chinese website, you need a Chinese bank account. Since Beau didn’t have one, the family reached out to a friend and employee to help host the site.
When we last checked on September 8th, Special Name claimed to have named 234,927 babies. Not quite two weeks later, that number is now up to 241,013. If we generously begin when the site was first registered back in February 2015, that would mean that Beau (and her employees) would have had to name around 400 babies every single day.
Which would no doubt make her a very wealthy teenager. Currently, she charges 68 RMB per baby name. Meaning that she could have amassed a fortune of over 16 million RMB or £1.8 million. Instead, she’s only managed to earn a reported £48,000 from her business.
Must be a lot of overhead on that site.
[Images via Buzzfeed]