Q&A: Flirt4Free's Clayman Discusses Milestones, Future After 20 Years Online
One of the adult entertainment industry’s most iconic brands, Flirt4Free this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, marking an enviable milestone for any company — especially one within the highly fluid technology space.
Among the company’s achievements, Flirt4Free has polished and helped popularize the live adult cam experience, while ushering in the latest generation of interactive services and technology, including the integration of haptic technology and new business models.
XBIZ recently chatted with Flirt4Free President Gregory L. Clayman, to help uncover the secrets to the company’s ongoing success and its vision for the future. Here’s what we learned:
XBIZ: Flirt4Free has been at the forefront of the cam business for 20 years now. What inspired you to start such a cutting-edge, pioneering company?
CLAYMAN: On June 4, 1996, the first iteration of what’s today known as Flirt4Free was launched just south of Boston, Massachusetts. The company was founded by a small group of entrepreneurs, with diverse backgrounds ranging from technology to insurance and financial sales.
The initial group was inspired by a vision that still exists today, which was to create and operate the best live adult video chat platform possible, while maintaining a focus on quality and business ethics.
XBIZ: What technological challenges did you face in the early days and what challenges remain today?
CLAYMAN: Among the biggest challenges we faced in the early years and still face today are technological challenges along with the constant opportunities for change that come with it. What’s today known as Flirt4Free, started out in 1996 using a point-to-point video delivery system whereas our customers had to download a client to their computer in order to view the video being delivered.
By early 1998, the delivery of video directly though web browsers was quickly becoming a viable option and we had to make a strategic decision as to whether we were going to make such a major change. Almost all of our competitors at that time were still utilizing the point-to-point delivery system and we felt a change could create a significant window of opportunity. We studied the pros and cons of both video delivery systems and ultimately chose to take a leap of faith and make the switch over to video streaming. Once implemented, it turned out to be a tremendous opportunity for us to surpass some of our competitors.
To this day we continue to keep a watchful eye on the latest technological trends as well as analyze how these trends relate to Flirt4Free and the industry as a whole. One of our goals at Flirt4Free is to constantly keep our eye on technology and look out for what may be the next possible major disruption.
XBIZ: What can you tell us about the trials and tribulations of Flirt4Free? What were some of the learning experiences?
CLAYMAN: We’ve learned quite a bit over the years as we’ve developed and grown Flirt4Free. At times it’s been an extremely humbling experience, while at other times its been extremely rewarding. Some of the more important things we’ve learned over the years are as follows:
- Stay true to ones core competency.
- Do the right thing and be ethical.
- Foster and cherish relationships with those that share similar goals and values.
- Don’t plan on luck, as luck and opportunity come from hard work.
- Plan the best you can for the future, but stay flexible for the unexpected.
- Get out and see people. Nothing is better than face-to-face interaction.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things and implement new ideas.
- Slow and steady wins the race.
XBIZ: The Flirt4Free brand was adopted well after your company attained much of its success. What led you to rebrand the entire organization?
CLAYMAN: We launched in 1996 as VideoSecrets and that named served us well for many years, as it was the overall umbrella name for almost everything we provided to consumers and webmasters. When Flirt4Free made its debut in 2003, things became a little bit more complicated whereas VideoSecrets still represented our affiliate program and content sales but now Flirt4Free was our major live offering.
As content sales began to slip and eventually disappear, Flirt4Free continued to grow and prosper and it became evident that a name change was in order. It was at this time when we decided to drop the VideoSecrets name and brand Flirt4Free as our foremost offering in the live video chat arena.
XBIZ: Flirt4Free exemplifies a company with a progressive culture. Where do you draw inspiration from in order to keep the company ahead of the curve?
CLAYMAN: Much of our inspiration is drawn from our affiliates, studios, performers and employees that work with us day in and day out. Our goal is to consistently maintain the best live website the internet offers by listening to the needs of our clients, affiliates and broadcasters. We continually receive ideas on how to improve upon existing features as well as ideas on what to consider implementing next.
The relationship we have with our affiliates, broadcasters and even our customers is with out a doubt a special one. We realize that if it weren’t for these special relationships, we would never be where we are today and we thank all those who have supported us over the years and those that continue to support us into the future.
XBIZ: In your view, what have been some of the top highlights of Flirt4Free’s 20-year history?
CLAYMAN: We feel as though a major highlight of Flirt4Free’s 20th anniversary is how many facets have come together over the past year to create the Flirt4Free of today. We’ve been working diligently launching new features to our completely responsive, interactive site, and we have so many more exciting additions to come!
While we have had our share of press-worthy highlights over the years, the highlights I look back on most are the private accomplishments we make every day internally, and the victories we share with our trusted affiliates, broadcasters and performers. Flirt4Free is an ecosystem that touches thousands of people around the world; directly impacting their daily lives. We do take time to reflect on these achievements, but then we hunker down and start to pursue the next opportunity on our list and in that way the highlight reel of Flirt4Free is growing each and every day.
XBIZ: The big buzz these days is virtual reality, with many observers pointing to live cams as the presumptive standard-bearer for this technology. What’s your opinion of VR’s near and long-term impact?
CLAYMAN: We feel as though the long term impact of VR and live is still very much unknown. Those who have used a live service or have seen one in action understand that it’s a relationship based service. Given that, we feel it’s too early to tell how VR’s will impact these relationships and will they help or hinder them. Our overall feeling is that they will help, however how this will exactly happen is still a bit unknown to us.
XBIZ: Flirt4Free’s collaboration with interactive sex toy manufacturer Kiiroo has been at the cutting edge of cam shows. How are consumers responding to such premium cam services?
CLAYMAN: Some of our more technically inclined customers and models love the Kiiroo product along with the interactivity it provides. We’ve noticed however that it’s not for everyone, as some people just prefer simplicity, while others want to take there experience to the next level, which is something Kiiroo available at Flirt4Free allows them to do! Our goal with interactive devices is to present the best options to our performers and customers while providing a positive entertainment experience.
The Kiiroo is just one of three interactive offerings we currently support, and we look forward to expanding our lineup to provide our customers with the latest experience enhancing solutions as they come to market. XBIZ: When do you expect we’ll reach “nirvana” in terms of a near-perfect marriage of immersive technologies? CLAYMAN: We honestly feel that we’re a ways away from a perfect marriage using immersive technologies and live cam services.
Every day there are new and different immersive technologies being created and entering the market. Each new device seems to do something different than the previous device and we don’t feel as though the ultimate immersive device has hit the market yet. This device would need to be very simple as well as adopted by almost everyone in order to reach such a level of “nirvana.”
I will say however that at Flirt4Free our goal is to offer our customers as many immersive technologies as we can and let our customers eventually tell us what they like best.
XBIZ: What are you most excited about as you lead the next chapter of Flirt4Free?
CLAYMAN: We’re very excited about all the great things we have in the works and are planned for the future. Each and every day we are working hard to plan the debut of more exciting and revolutionary features that will only be found at Flirt4Free!
It may sound cliché, but even as we celebrate our 20th anniversary, it feels as though things are just getting started. We have worked hard to build a lot of momentum over the past few years, carefully choosing which projects and opportunities to pursue while keeping performer and customer satisfaction top of mind. This momentum is now compounding and our team in Westlake Village rapidly expands to tackle the new challenges and opportunities ahead.