The business of porn

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the business of porn

Apple introduced the iPhone, which moved so much of our digital lives onto mobile devices while officially banning pornography in its App Sex porn latina. In this case, it doesn't. But that future isn't what the popular imagination expects. A colleague of mine calls this a meso-ideaan idea that has ceased to be true but that people continue to repeat, ad infinitum, as if it still was, the business of porn. Ironically, O'Connell says, a the business of porn like Mikandi is also in a bind because so much free porn—or porn-like stuff—is now available through social media, from people posting stuff that isn't necessarily for financial gain.

the business of porn

The business of porn

Midway through the second season of Silicon Valleythe HBO series that so skillfully spoofs the Bay Area tech scene, the plot turns to porn. Inside the offices of Pied Piper, the fictional startup at the heart of the show, a shaggy-haired coder hacks into a rival company.

In many ways, the exchange is typical of the show. It's good for multiple laughs, particularly if you're wise to the shamelessly eccentric ways of the modern tech world.

Punchline aside, the big laugh is that nod to Snapchat, a mainstream private-messaging-and-video-chat app whose status as a porn service is, shall we say, unofficial. But Pied Piper's porn encounter is a rare case where Silicon Valley gets things wrong. Typically, the parody rings so very true. In this case, it doesn't. In the popular imagination, the eternal trope is that the porn industry drives the adoption of new technology; that it accounts for some astronomically large portion of all Internet traffic; and, yes, that it generates equally enormous sums of money for all the faceless people who run its operations.

We picture these people as sleazy Southern Californians wearing pinkie rings and polyester. Or, if we've come to realize that the pinkie-ring caricature makes absolutely no sense in the age of the Internet, we see them as ruthlessly clever businesspeople with a sixth sense for where the big money lies.

That's the stereotype Silicon Valley embraces. Later in the episode, when Hendricks turns up at an adult industry conference, we encounter an army of porn execs dressed like bankers. Some of it may have been true in years past. A colleague of mine calls this a meso-ideaan idea that has ceased to be true but that people continue to repeat, ad infinitum, as if it still was. With the rise of mobile devices and platforms from the likes of Apple and Google, not to mention the proliferation of free videos on YouTube-like porn sites, the adult industry is in a bind.

Money is hard to come by, and as the industry struggles to find new revenue streams, it's facing extra competition from mainstream social media. Its very identity is being stolen as the world evolves both technologically and culturally.

It's a world where Playboy is going PG —in print and online—because it can't compete with the Internet at large. Mobile and social media platforms have pulled us away from the openness of the worldwide web and into walled gardens, squeezing the avenues of distribution for porn, co-opting its the business of porn at least in partand forcing outfits like Playboy to become more "mainstream.

Mikandi operates the world's largest porn app store, the business of porn. When I talked to the publisher of XBIZthe leading adult business news organization, he called it "the future of the porn industry. But that future isn't what the popular imagination expects. O'Connell, Mikandi's year-old chief architect, lives in Tucson, Arizona, and he runs the company with Jesse Adams and Jen McEwen, the young Seattle couple who launched the store back inproviding an alternative to the Android and iPhone app stores that forbid adult content.

Apple also bars Mikandi itself from iPhones, and the only way to use it on an Android phone is to download it manually through a web browser—the same browser that serves up a seemingly endless stream of free pornography. That said, Mikandi aims to offer stuff you can't get elsewhere. A smartphone app does video and animation much better than a browser, and the store serves up carefully crafted stuff like hand-drawn hentai —aka Japanese porn animation.

The business of porn the last three years, the word "hentai" accounted porn tease videos more Mikandi searches than the word "free. But the audience is relatively small. All of which means: O'Connell, Adams, and McEwen pull in yearly salaries somewhere in the low six figures, the business of porn, after paying "competitive" wages to a handful of coders in Seattle and Eastern Europe.

Or as McEwen puts it: Yes, many people frown on the business of porn, calling it exploitative and debasing. But many others just see it as a part of life—a big part of life. McEwen means economic obstacles, business obstacles, technical obstacles. It wasn't always this way. In the early aughts, online porn was ridiculously lucrative. Colin Rowntree, a porn producer, director, distributor, and member of the Adult Video News Hall of Famethe business of porn, was a just mid-level player, and in those days, he and his wife, Angie, earned millions each year.

But at the end of the decade, just about everything changed. Apple introduced the iPhone, which moved so much of our digital lives onto mobile devices while officially banning pornography in its App Store. Google pushed porn to the fringes of its search engine. And as The Economist and Buzzfeed have described, an army of "Tube sites"—essentially Youtube knockoffs with names like Youporn and Pornhub—began offering a smorgasbord of online porn for free, much of it pirated, making it far more difficult for pornographers and distributors to make money, the business of porn.

All this happened as the worldwide economy tanked. It may be grained and shitty, but at least I can masturbate. The adult industry sought new avenues, including porn app stores, porn search engines like Rowntree's Boodigoand other workarounds, as well as "live cams," where people pay to watch and interact with an adult performer in real time.

That's pretty much what strippers and porn stars have offered over Snapchat. But this too has its limits. One of the kings of live cams, Kink. Snapchat now works to shut down accounts dedicated to pornography. Certainly, some people will pay for a better experience than they can get on a Tube site.

But the best content is often pirated and offered for free, much like Hollywood blockbusters and best-selling albums. The difference is that Hollywood has the political and economic power to suppress pirated content—and push official content through mainstream services. The porn biz can issue DMCA takedown notices and threaten legal action like anyone else, but it doesn't have the clout to enforce the notices on a wide scale—or make anyone care that it's being ripped off.

Meanwhile, with the rise of Netflix and YouTube and so many other mainstream video services—including Facebook and Twitter—porn is no longer the dominant form of online video. It's hard to tell how much porn streams across the 'net—no reliable operation tracks this, including Sandvine, the primary source for internet traffic research —but it doesn't account for free video gallery porn percent of all traffic.

It's not even close. Mikandi declines to discuss its traffic. But a better barometer is the Pornhub Network, which now spans several of the major Tube sites. Pornhub says its network receives about million visits a day, and at least on part of the network, the average visit lasts about nine minutes.

If you extrapolate, that's somewhere in the range of million hours of viewing a month. Meanwhile, Netflix serves 60 million subscribers, the business of porn, and these subscribers watch over 3. Youtube claims hundreds of millions of hours of viewing daily, the business of porn. The corollary is that, with the rising power of companies like Apple and Google and Facebook, the business of porn, the adult industry doesn't drive new technology.

In many respects, it doesn't even have access to new technology. The big tech companies behind the big platforms control not only the gateway services the iPhone app store, Google Search, the Facebook social network but the gateway devices the iPhone, Android phones, Google Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

And for the most part, they've shut porn out. Besides, these giants now drive new technology faster the business of porn services like Mikandi or Pornhub ever could.

Porn distributors have become the imitators, the business of porn, not the innovators. This summer, Pornhub introduced a for-pay service, an alternative to its ad-driven free porn sites. In a press release, the company the business of porn it "the Netflix of porn. If it was ever true, it isn't true today. Silicon Valley doesn't even get the clothes right.

The reality is that people from porn companies wear whatever they want at conferences—a lot like people from other tech companies. They have a certain countercultural attitude. They just deal in a different type of online content. And even the content isn't as different as you might the business of porn.

They wouldn't stay true for long. The Internet would soon remake the industry. It became less about producers and directors in Southern California, and more about people who put stuff on the 'net, the business of porn. Old-school producers and directors are still around, the business of porn, but they've been superseded by the people who deliver the porn, and these people have moved into production as well. Twenty years later, almost none of Wallace's cliches are true. Nowadays, the porn industry looks nothing like those guys in bad toupees—and nothing like the steely-eyed execs who show up in Silicon Valley.

It looks like Chris O'Connell. The big adult business-to-business conference is called Internext, and it's held at the Hard Rock Hotel, just off the Las Vegas strip. On the first day of this year's show, O'Connell turned up in a blue mohair and wool suit, with a the business of porn tie and matching handkerchief. As he walked down the hall that Saturday night, past the framed guitars, the signed Led Zeppelin photos, the business of porn, and the freestanding, poster-sized porn-tech ads, he carried a lit Dominican cigar in one hand, and two smartphones in the other.

The second phone is unlocked and rooted, so he can test new software code, the business of porn. This is pretty much what he always looks like—though, if it's the business of porn, he might add a waistcoat, an overcoat, and a black fur felt fedora-like hat fashioned by a haberdasher in Romania. And on a Sunday morning, he might relax in a rugby shirt. But whatever he wears, he doesn't the business of porn it with irony. He's a registered Republican. He's an engineer who quotes Adam Smith.

He's a shareholder in a porn company who carries a commercial pilot's license. He's a guy with his own tastes—in clothes, in politics, in technology, in sex. He lives in Arizona because he likes the politics, including the gun laws. Like many others in the porn business, he sits at the libertarian end of the spectrum. Free speech and free guns. He also lives in Arizona because that's where he went to grad school.

After three years of liberal arts at Middlebury in Vermont and a few more years in the Silicon Valley startup world, he studied astronomy at the University of Arizona, working with the Large Binocular Telescope and contributing to academic papers in publications like The Astrophysical Journal and The Astronomical Society of the Pacific.