We remain baffled by the tale of what is pretty much the only adult site to find acceptance (and cash) in the land of filthy rich web giants. You may remember us telling you about Zivity, an adult content "community" site that received a $1 million round of funding from some high-powered Silicon Valley venture capitalists. Well, seven months have gone by—an eternity in internet time—and the site has still not gone public, but we just saw the news that their benefactors have ponied up another $7 million. Good for them! Our only question is: Why?
According to insidery Valley blog Techcrunch, the site will remain in "private beta" mode until at least 2009, but has already secured $8 million in private financing. When it does eventually go public, it will pay the models and photographers who generate the most interest based on user votes ... but not with that $8 mil. That money will come from user subscription fees, since you will have to pay to look at and vote on content.
However, as we've wondered in the past with other pay-per-view ventures, with so much free content available on the web who will open their wallets for it, especially for non-hardcore work? (Zivity's motto is "tasteful" art and beauty shots). Nude photography in particular has oversaturated the web with dozens (hundreds, really) of artistic model and photo sites giving away thousands of free pictures, so it's hard to imagine an abundance of people lining up to hand over their credit card numbers. At least, not at the level that justifies an $8 million investment.
Obviously subscription models can work. They are working for many sites that actually turn a profit. But investors aren't willing to fund those companies, because they deal in hardcore porn, not art. Which is the better business investment?
On the other hand, we don't pretend to know anything about business or the details of this particular deal—we just know porn and how much we're willing to pay for it—so maybe we'll be the ones looking foolish in the end. Perhaps we should just trust in Zivity Co-Founder Cyan Banister. After all, she's not just the Chief Strategy Officer ... she's also one of the site's first nude models. (That's her up above, courtesy of old friend Merkley.)
· No Longer Under Age: Zivity Takes $7 Million In Venture Financing For Adult Content Social Network + As Promised, Zivity Founder Does The Full Monty (techcrunch.com) · Cyan - SkyCam (Flickr) · Zivity : Promoting Beauty 2.0 (zivity.com)
* * * * *