"What defines Rick, in my mind, is persistent innovation coupled with motivation," says Aly Drummond, former director of public relations for Muenyong's company, TheBestPorn.com.
In 1996, Muenyong built personal websites, including well-known KidSlick.com.
A year later, he founded YNOT Network, the first online forum for adult webmasters, which was sold in 2000.
In 1998, he created ShortDomains.com, which traded in prominent domains like Mad.com, Official.com and VipLounge.com.
Ranks.com, launched in 2001, was a specialized mainstream search engine and Muenyong's short departure from adult online. On the heels of Ranks.com, he also started EroticRanks.com, AmateurRanks.com and AmateurMasters.com. Two years later, he found that Ranks.com didn't attract enough repeat users to sustain itself.
TheBestPorn.com was established in 2003, and soon afterward, Muenyong shut down the Ranks Network and sold AmateurMasters.com and his remaining interests in ShortDomains.com. His objective was to focus efforts on the new venture.
By encouraging "a little consumer advocacy and an increase in webmaster awareness of consumers' expectations," Drummond says, TheBestPorn.com has become the leading online industry review site.
XBIZ: What's your educational background?
Muenyong: I didn't have much of an education. I grew up in pursuit of succeeding financially, much like my uncle, who is a very successful businessman and founded and still owns Chick's Sporting Goods, a family based business. My passion growing up had always been computers and technology. I completed high school and wasted two years at Cal Poly Pomona. College became one big fat speed bump toward success, and it wasn't long before I put college in my rear view mirror. The adult Internet business and a bit of curiosity have been my primary source of education over the past 10 years. I couldn't have asked for a better crash course in financial freedom.
XBIZ: You started YNOT as a resource for webmasters. How did you come up with the idea for TheBestPorn.com?
Muenyong: YNOT began as an organization for top adult site webmasters. The goal was to gradually build an exclusive family of "brainiacs" who could all help each other succeed and grow. My job as the organization leader was to build traffic tools to assist in choosing new members and build the site (YNOT Network). YNOT succeeded as an organization for a good year or two, and as the membership volume grew, personality differences and lack of participation ultimately led to the death of YNOT's exclusive membership. My focus then moved towards growing a webmaster resource and community without walls. YNOT's "The Hangout" was a webmaster guide to finding all types of resources. It happened to also be the first major chat board where adult webmasters could congregate. What I figured out, soon after building YNOT, was the enjoyment I got from building resources that helped people find quality sites easier and quicker. I saw companies make millions off good branding and marketing, while others with far more valuable products could barely stay in business. My biggest pet peeve is seeing spammers and con artists profit at the cost of others. Most of my businesses have always had one thing in common — to help guide buyers toward the most valuable sites and services and find a way to make it a profitable business.
XBIZ: Reportedly, 40 percent of searches on mobile devices is for adult content. How important will search engines be for mobile users and for the webmasters trying to get into that market?
Muenyong: That surprises me greatly. I have never been a big fan of the mobile phone market. Who browses and pays for adult sites on a cellphone? As devices offer larger screens and broadband-like speed, I suppose it's inevitable. But even then, billing adult content isn't convenient yet for customers, and it won't be for a long time. Users could pay online from their PCs for mobile-based sites, but that's also not ideal. Paysites that offer downloadable mobile content that they can transfer to their phone (or iPod) are a good and smart value-added service. Profitable mobile-only adult sites, though, are at least a few years away, if not more, which is way too far into the future to consider today.
XBIZ: What are some hot trends for the future that webmasters should be paying attention to now? Any predictions for where adult online is headed?
Muenyong: Review sites are obviously hot and will continue to be. You'll see more community-based review sites, like our own PornUsers.com, later this year, as well as niche-based review sites. I also see cam-related sites gaining more market share as broadband continues to grow. I believe strongly in virtual adult communities. Sites like AdultFriendFinder are the biggest moneymakers of today, and I still see opportunities for similar services. Other areas to note are that the value among TGPs will decline more as review sites continue to gain strength. Users are still being conditioned to refer to review sites for their purchases and conversions among free sites and TGPs will continue to suffer as time passes. Also resulting from this, paysites have to make their members area a top priority. The days of relying on fancy tours and creative marketing will soon be over.
XBIZ: Have you always been a super-organized guy who likes to sort things? Is your sock drawer organized by color and texture and style?
Muenyong: Yes and no. I used to be a total slob. Work was No. 1, and I would clean around the house when it was convenient. That changed dramatically as I got older and took on more responsibility. Things can't just be organized, they have to be "optimized." I've become way too compulsive about reaching perfection in all areas. Clutter is my No. 1 enemy. But beyond that, I can't help but upgrade things in my life, from cars to computers, televisions, software, phones, etc. I waste way too much time tinkering with something in hopes that it will work faster or better. Much is the same with my business today. I tend to find and seek slightly better ways to organize information, and it leads to databases or pages being redesigned way more than they should. I also can't seem to ever keep a simple idea simple. Forever I've wanted to add "user comments and/or reviews" to TheBestPorn.com but was never satisfied with just putting a simple comment form on each site page. So to this day, we still don't have user comments — the one major feature missing from our site — but in the end, it will be worth it. Our new site, PornUsers.com, will be a dedicated user review site that is set to debut in fall 2006.
XBIZ: Has marriage changed your business outlook at all? What does she think about porn surfing?
Muenyong: Yeah, I'm proud to be a married man, finally. I think the happiness and stability of a good wife can only improve one's life in all areas. There's nothing more distracting for a single guy than constantly trying to get laid. My wife works pretty closely with TheBestPorn.com. She happens to be one of the reviewers on our site (Vanessa), so she was involved from Day 1. She's as big of a perv as me, but our interest in recreational porn surfing has fizzled quite dramatically.
XBIZ: Would you ever give up adult and go totally mainstream?
Muenyong: Someday I hope to get involved in mainstream business again. The adult industry is pretty much about the money. I'd love to open a restaurant here in Vegas someday and get more involved socially in the community. Someday I also look forward to spending a little less time on business and more time playing poker and golf.
XBIZ: Do you have any new projects in the works?
Muenyong: We have a few sites on the horizon to complement TheBestPorn.com. The only one I've made public is PornUsers.com. This is definitely the largest project we have in the works. It's basically a site built around user reviews for paysites. I hope it'll become as popular and successful as TheBestPorn.com. We're putting a lot of work into the development and will do everything we can to get users involved.
XBIZ: How do you see your role in the online adult industry?
Muenyong: As involved as I was in the YNOT days, today I'm very quiet in the webmaster community. I try and focus as much as I can on developing our ideas and finding ways to improve our sites. I do a ton of reading on the boards, GFY mainly, and surfing the web in terms of research and staying up to date. My role is to provide the most beneficial service I can to both webmasters and surfers alike. Our innovation today stems from small details versus big ideas. We definitely weren't the first porn review site. But we were the first to have four reviewers for each review, the first to provide detailed site facts for each paysite, the first to index and link reviews from other honest review sites for our users, and more. It's important for any good company to lead with new ideas to succeed in the long-term.
XBIZ: Your success has been, in part, due to a series of well-calculated gambles. Any chance that you'd give up your online career for poker?
Muenyong: There's no way I'd give up any successful business for a recreational game like poker. I'd love to play more poker and even put down big bucks to play with the pros in a big tournament. But playing poker full time isn't that glamorous when it comes down to it. I know it would ruin the fun of it all.