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Just Call Him a Fanalyst

The accountant who created the online Internet Fund Fan Club has snagged a job as a stock analyst at Morningstar.

Maybe some people thought it was strange to build an online shrine to a mutual fund. After all, fan sites are usually reserved for movie stars and pop singers, not portfolio managers.

But for George Nichols, creating an online shrine changed his life -- not to mention fattened his salary by nearly 50%.

Nichols, an Atlanta-based accountant, built in his spare time a

Web site in honor of the

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Internet Fund and its former portfolio manager, Ryan Jacob. Thanks to his Web site, his tireless online postings on sites like

Raging Bull and

Silicon Investor and his passionate emails about companies like


, Nichols just got a new job.

No longer will Nichols be toiling away in the bowels of the Atlanta


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TV station, where his primary job was to sit in the accounts payable department and code invoices so they'd be billed to the proper department.

Instead, on October 4, the 24-year-old Nichols will start work as a stock analyst for the investment information company

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. He'll be relocating to the company's headquarters in Chicago to write about Net companies and other businesses for the

Web site and the

Morningstar StockInvestor


Nichols -- who has been mentioned, along with his Web site, in publications such as the

Los Angeles Times


USA Today

, the

Village Voice


-- is a living illustration of how people cannot only achieve 15 minutes of fame on the Internet, but also parlay that fame into a more substantive gig.

Nichols' operation of his Web site indicated he had a lot of initiative, says Pat Dorsey, a senior stock analyst with Morningstar who encouraged Nichols to apply for a job. Dorsey adds that Nichols is obviously passionate about stocks -- as evidenced by an email that Nichols wrote Dorsey about the IPO that he later reworked as a freelance piece for the site.

Although this isn't the first time in the history of the Internet that stock message-board contributors have gone onto full-time jobs writing about stocks -- it's happened at least three times at

The Motley Fool

-- it's a first for Morningstar.

Jacob, now head of

Jacob Asset Management

, wasn't available for comment on Thursday. But Michael Dubrow, a senior analyst who followed Jacob from the Internet Fund, says, "We certainly wish him all the success at Morningstar."

"Actually, I'm a little disappointed," Dubrow jokes, "because if he's working at Morningstar, I guess he won't be able to put up a Jacob Internet fan club Web site."

Don't be so sure. "We haven't really worked that one out yet," Dorsey says. "It hasn't even come up."

For his part, Nichols is tickled by his new career. "It's amazing. Sounds like a dream job," he says. "Oh, man, what can I say? I'm still pinching myself."