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Voyr Goes in Reverse

Voyr Goes in Reverse

May 25, 2007
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" The performers love the idea of being able to negotiate a price because if a guy doesn't seem interested, she can offer to do it for less. "

One day, Ivan Cohen wondered what it would be like for male camera-site customers to have beautiful women bidding against each other for a "date" with them. The owner of IMF Media, parent company of voyr.com, decided to take this idea and run with it.

The result?

Cohen's site now boasts a new concept that he hopes will set the cam business on its ear. Here's how it works: The customer fills out a brief form, describing what he's looking for and sets a price that is the most he's willing to pay for it. All the performers affiliated with the program then receive a notification that there is a reverse auction available, and they bid against each other.

"It's an ego boost for the customer to have a bunch of performers bidding against each other to perform for him," Cohen says. "The customer gets to pick which performer he wants, and for what price."

The price is negotiated in the bidding process, although the minimum show is $10, and right now billing is by credit card only. Cohen is thinking of reducing that to $5 once the traffic to the site, which has only been in service for a few weeks, reaches its potential. As it is now, the cost averages about $1 per minute.

"It's cheaper than any other site that's out there," Cohen said. "The performers love the idea of being able to negotiate a price because if a guy doesn't seem interested, she can offer to do it for less. The time you get for the money is negotiated, too."

Cohen is not sure exactly how many performers are available on the site today, but he estimates there are at least 500 around the world. His new system has made it easy for them to sign on. Literally anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and a camera can be a performer.

"All of our software is browser-based, so there's no special software needed," he said. "So it's very easy to become a performer on this site. I have a management company in Canada that screens and signs up performers. We just look for somebody who has a decent Internet connection and has a decent camera. It's all commission-based. Our performers get 40 percent of everything they do, and we guarantee them payment on every show that they do. The performer is required to stay online and in front of the camera for the minimum performance time that she's agreed to do. If she doesn't, there's no charge to the customer."

Cohen's egalitarian approach that allows anyone to be a performer comes from his reluctance to make judgments about tastes and preferences.

"There is obviously someone for everybody," he said, "and some are going to like a particular performer that I may not like. If a fat girl with pimples can make money, fine. If she spends her time and doesn't make any money, it's basically her fault."

Aside from the original concept, what sets the reverse auctions apart from all other programs is the new technology Cohen has developed for voyr.com. He and his colleagues spent three years developing it, and according to Cohen, it's totally customized.

"There's nothing off the shelf," he said. "We developed the auction technology in-house. It's all PHP [a coding language] and Sequel [database technology], so there's no real mystery with that. It's just in the coding and how we take each individual transaction that sets us apart."

The reverse auction site will soon offer two-way cam capability, according to Cohen, which will allow the performer and customer to see each other.

"We have that technology," he said, "but since the site is so new, we haven't implemented the cam-to-cam yet. But I would say within the next 30 days, we're going to implement cam-to-cam."

Aside from the technology, what makes Cohen most proud of his reverse auction idea is that it's so far removed from what the other cam sites are doing.

"In most situations, the girl is trained to spend the first four or five minutes of a guy's time doing absolutely nothing, so they're guaranteed to make their $20 before the guy gets to the part that he wants," Cohen said. "The customer gets frustrated, and that's the problem with the cam business. They're trying to milk the guy for as much as they can right then and there because they don't know if he's going to come back.

"We designed software in auction format, because we want the guy to get the best price. We want him to get exactly what he's looking for, and we don't want it to be open-ended, where he's worried during every minute he talks to this girl that his credit card is being billed more. We want it to be an enjoyable experience where, once the transaction is complete, he knows exactly how much he's paid and exactly how long it will last, because he's bargained for it."

Cohen has deliberately limited traffic to the new site during its first six weeks of existence, so he'd be able to work out any bugs that might pop up in this brand-new concept with custom software. In fact, few people have even heard of the site just yet. Up until his interview with XBIZ, everyone he's told about the new concept has had to sign a nondisclosure agreement, according to Cohen. But he plans to take his new vehicle out for a road test by sending "mass amounts of traffic" to the site.

"We're really looking to be one of the big players in the cam business," he said. "Right now, the sky's the limit because we're not just looking to compete with the other sites. We're looking to change the business model of the industry. We want to take the amount of money a customer pays out of our control and put it back in the customer's hands."

Based on a small sampling of early returns, customer response has been brilliantly positive. Cohen claims that 90 percent of the customers who have bought a reverse auction on voyr have bought again.

"They just love the fact that they're in control of everything," he said of the customer response. "I've yet to receive any negative feedback."

Like it is with any re-invention of the wheel, there are bound to be copycats who hope to cash in on the new market. Cohen said he's not worried.

"It took me three years to develop this software," he said. "It will take my next competitor six months to even come close to the level of technology that I have. If somebody tries to launch a similar site really quick, they'll put themselves out of business. There's no way someone can throw together some software and make it work like my site does in a couple of weeks, so for the first five or six months, I will have no competition."

Cohen has a right to be proud of his new accomplishment. He's spent the past 13 years of his life in the adult Internet business, helping to develop — among other things — the first point-to-point video conferencing system that was used in the adult industry.

"But I'm more excited about this [reverse auction] than anything I've done," he said. "It's basically 10 years of my experience wrapped into one site. It's my baby, 100 percent."


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