Launched on September 1, 1999, Quixtar Inc. (pronounced "quick star") has become one of the top 10 e-commerce forces (based on revenue). It has generated over US$1.2 billion since its inception, and another $135 million through partner stores. Quixtar attributes its success to its "unique" business model. I say "unique" because it is not a new model, though Quixtar does some things to differentiate itself. Quixtar is a member of the Alticor group of companies, as are Amway Corporation and Access Business Group.

On Quixtar's site, there are many products for sale, mostly goods that need renewing: cosmetics, nonperishible foods, vitamins, etc. Services such as cellular phone and internet access are available as well. There are business relations with other sites, though the sites have modifications to fit into Quixtar's idiom. Prominent partners are IBM, OfficeMax, Lens Express, and MCI. Members are welcome to bring businesses into the program, their own or others'. There are also other programs, such as their Ditto Delivery, which allows for scheduled deliveries of products.

Quixtar deals with its source companies directly, avoiding the middlemen and other sources of expense. It also employs a referral program instead of a standard marketing budget and advertising. Members (called IBOs, independant business owners) of the program refer clients to the site to shop. Also, IBOs are encouraged to recruit others to be new IBOs. This is where the pyramid-like scheme comes in.

When you begin, you have a referring IBO (if you don't have one, you are given a list of IBOs in your area to pick from). This person is your mentor and partner. You start as your own client, and then recruiting people to shop at, using you as their referral. You receive a percentage of this profit. Your referring IBO also receives a bonus depending on how you do (not out of your money, however). Then, you recruit (with the help of your mentor/partner) your own apprentices and continue the cycle. There are various rewards for levels of achievement, and time invested. The projected timeline is reaching $150,000 in 2-5 years. The average monthly gross income for active IBOs was $88 in 1994-95. (Active meaning making a retail sale, making a presentation, receiving bonus money in the system, or attending a company or IBO meeting). Most payments from Quixtar to its IBOs are monthly checks, with a summary of their activity in the prior weeks.

The "this is not a pyramid scheme" line has grown tiresome, but there are some things of note. The primary source of money includes non-members, though members certainly use the service they are promoting. Lower-level members do not pay their "superiors", though Quixtar rewards members for their recruits' performance. It is possible for the lower-level members to pass the higher ones.

I am not involved with Quixtar or its associates, and I've tried to present the material in a neutral manner. You are responsible for your own conclusions. This information was taken from Quixtar's website, from promotional literature, and from meetings and presentations I have attended. For more information, see and/or locate an IBO in your area (location assistance available on the site).

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