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Archive for January 2009

Lately I have been hearing more and more about Zivity, a new adult site that pretends not to be an adult site. I largely ignored it even after seeing a few mentions by some members here at Ebpm.
Then I heard some more details from a friend and started to check into it more.

I signed up for a beta account and got access a couple days later. I looked around a bit and was not really impressed because parts of it as even fleshbot noticed seemed pretty similar to what I did with spiceplay. (Sharing revenue with models based on members giving credits to models or each other.) And they even have a patent pending on that.

Yeah there are some pretty girls, some of them are naked, some of them are not, and there is all the basic social features you can expect to have. But nothing else really notable.

The thing that caught my eye the most was the fact that they take paypal. Most people wouldn’t think twice about that. But talk to anyone in the adult biz and you will probably hear the same story about their account getting banned. Or you may even hear stories about paypal once upon a time courting the business of adult websites (myself included) only to ban them all a few months later when Ebay bought them out.

So why does Zivity get a free pass?
Well, it turns out that Founders Fund and Blue Run Ventures put up the $8 Million in VC funding to get Zivity started. The same people behind paypal and numerous other tech startups.
And the people behind Zivity is quite impressive.

Jon Elvekrog – CEO
According to his bio on Zivity, he has worked for HP, TIBCO, Volex, and helped build LinkExchange

Scott Banister – Chairman and Co-Founder
Founder of ListBot which sold to Microsoft
VP of Idealab – sold to AOL
Co-Founder of Ironport – Sold to Cisco for $830 million

Cyan Banister – Co Founder and Editor in Chief
Scott Banister’s wife – Details on her background are lacking
*edit* Cyan was kind enough to link me to her linkedin profile. She was a senior manager at IronPort and has had a successful career in recruiting for bay area startups. */edit*

Jeffrey Wescott – Co Founder
Former Ironport engineer

Jordan Ritter – CTO
Napster Co Founder
Cloudmark CTO
Columbia Music Entertainment CTO

John Manoogian III – Director of User Experience and Product Design
Worked at Organic Inc
Designed Yahoo’s homepage and UI
Claims to have invented social bookmarking

So why is this a big deal to me?

The fact that they can use paypal and no other adult company can is only a minor annoyance.

The fact that they are attempting to patent something that is neither new or innovative is a little more concerning and makes sense coming from an industry that is increasingly patenting anything obvous just for the sake of having a large patent portfolio and then suing people.

Non Obivous innovations that took hard work to develop certainly deserve to be patented for a period of time. Obvious patents only serve to stifle innovation and end up doing far more harm than good.

However, the biggest thing that has me going is why are they doing this? Why would all these people decide to get into the adult business? If the VC investors hope to see their money back. Zivity would likely need to maintain a paid membership of over 100,000 users. I really don’t see them lasting long.

However, if they are successful. I feel that it will be another sad day for all the creative people out there who don’t have access to piles of money but have plenty of amazing ideas.

Part of what makes the internet great is the ability to share ideas, art, and collaborate with other people to create new things. When big companies and big money comes along and lock down ideas with patents and further stifle creativity by throwing so much money at their project that other people do not even get noticed. Well, it makes the internet less diverse, it puts a lot of money in the hands of a few people, and it certainly takes away a lot of the fun.

Maybe I would feel better if Zivity had come along and done something truly different. But I just don’t see it.

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