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Corey Nicholas Rudl, 34; Internet Marketing Pioneer Was Motocross Champion as a Teen

June 07, 2005|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Corey Nicholas Rudl, who died Thursday in a high-speed car crash at California Speedway in Fontana, was considered by many to be an Internet marketing pioneer.

The 34-year-old Rudl, of La Jolla, was a passenger in a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT when the car, driven by Benjamin Miles Keaton, 39, veered off the track, struck a barrier and caught fire. Keaton also died.

A former teen motocross champion, Rudl built a pervasive Internet marketing presence based on knowledge he gained promoting his book on car-buying secrets.

By Monday, websites and message boards brimmed with postings lamenting his loss. Many of those posting messages had spent almost $200 for his book "The Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Business on the Internet" (2000) or taken seminars offered by Internet Marketing Center, the business he founded in 1996 in Vancouver, Canada.

"He had an uncanny ability to figure out what the small business needed to be successful, and he had an ability to predict what the next big thing would be on the Internet," said Derek Gehl, Internet Marketing Center's chief operations officer.

Although Rudl attended business school at the University of Western Ontario, his knowledge of Internet marketing was largely self-taught. After he self-published "Car Secrets Revealed" in 1996, he turned to the Internet when the book didn't sell.

"I was glued to my computer ... testing all kinds of wild and crazy marketing ideas to see which ones worked," he once said. Most of the ideas failed, but the few that clicked "worked like crazy."

They became the basis for his second book, which led to his Internet-marketing business. It grew from a one-man start-up to a $7.6-million-a-year business with 100 employees, according to the company.

He tried to steer businesses away from over-relying on Internet search engines and instead championed linking to other Internet companies that targeted the same market. Some of the techniques he advocated -- building pop-up windows and devising ways to compel visitors to leave behind e-mail addresses -- were more popular with businesses than Internet users.

Rudl, who was born and raised in Carleton Place, in the Canadian province of Ontario, retired as a regional motocross champion when he was 18. More recently, he joined an organization that allowed amateur drivers to race old formula cars on professional tracks, and he was considered one of the racing circuit's top drivers, the Ottawa Citizen said.

In 1989, he started a mail-order business selling parts for the discontinued Pontiac Fiero. Sales topped a reported $250,000 before he sold the company and started another home-grown business, selling discount coupon books for Ottawa-area restaurants.

When he needed an example of how a successful Internet business could be created from almost nothing, Rudl could always point to himself. He started his first web-based business with $25.

Rudl is survived by his wife, Tracey; his parents, John and Pat; his sister, Hope; and his niece, Taya. Services will be private.

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