In the Executive Seat: Platinum Dave

Tom Hymes
Founded in 1998 by the brothers Platinum Dave and Dan, Platinum Bucks is one of the most well known and successful affiliate programs in adult Internet industry. Over the years, the siblings have added steadily to their portfolio of adult offerings, which today include VoD provider Adult Rental, the venerable chat board and resource site Pimp Café, Porno Junkies, Discount Pass Bucks and Platinum Feeds.

In 2008, Platinum Bucks shows no sign of slowing down, economic recession notwithstanding. They continue to launch new programs and content with a relentless optimism in their own future and the future of the biz. XBIZ thought the timing would be right to sit down with Platinum Dave for a one-on-one talk about the business, his business and what he likes and doesn't like about an industry that he, his brother and his company have been such an important part of for the past decade.

XBIZ: We know you're busy. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

Platinum Dave: My pleasure. Thanks for asking me.

XBIZ: What is the state of VoD at Adult Rental these days? Any changes over the past year?

Platinum Dave: Adult Rental's sales are strong. I know that as a whole, the industry has seen some areas of decline, but a quality product properly marketed, regardless of the times, will always do well. If you look at previous recessions, those that came out on top were the ones willing to change and adapt to the new situation. Our products are continually in a state of transformation, Adult Rental particularly. In the past year we've signed dozens of new studios, both large and small, to improve our catalogue of titles to the benefit of new and existing customers. We have added powerful promotion tools like our custom theatre to further support our affiliates; and we're always working on new layouts, making them easy on the eyes and intuitive to use.

XBIZ: In an article recently announcing the promotion of Platinum Bryan, you guys were rolling out new products, redesigning established ones, and had new ones in the works. Generally speaking, everything sounded extremely upbeat. As the economy tanks, do you still feel as if the momentum is still in play?

Platinum Dave: We feel that positive momentum isn't a phenomenon which simply happens: you create it with vision and actions, more specifically with a sound business plan executed with attention. Sure, markets are down and certain industries are taking a beating — you have to be mindful of what's going on around you — that being said, you can't let the noise outside of your office distract you from your goals. We're focused on expanding our product range, the quality of our products and services, and the further diversification of our income. And yes, we're still moving forward full-steam ahead in all of these aims.

XBIZ: What's your philosophy about how to deal with an economic downturn like this? Do you recommend hibernation and cutting back expenses and investments or do you think people should seize the opportunities and charge forward?

Platinum Dave: My personal viewpoint has always been about balance. I certainly don't recommend hibernation, but at the same time, eliminating wasteful spending should always be a priority, even during good times. Tightening your belt doesn't mean passing up on a good deal when you see one. Right now the financial climate is dynamic; this creates opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime acquisitions and fosters creativity across the board.

XBIZ: What does this economic crisis mean to you personally?

Platinum Dave: I'm an optimistic person by nature and expect the current economic crisis will be shorter than most people think. Having said that, I really feel for those are losing their shirts due to no fault of their own. It's a horrible situation, but not a hopeless one—people will recover, they always do.

XBIZ: I talk with many company owners and CEOs who believe that many people who might have survived the horrible economy will not be able to because of tube sites and for no other reason, and that the industry is at dire risk because of them. Do you see it the same way?

Platinum Dave: There is no denying the fact that illegal tube sites are hurting the industry, it's definitely a wake-up call, but a new emerging trend should not be feared. Rather, people need to keep an open mind to fresh models and figure out ways to make them legitimate and sustainable.

XBIZ: Even people who don't like pre-checked cross-sales are now using them. What do you think about them? Do you use them? Do you agree that people ripped off by the abusive use of PCCS are not likely to join a porn site again? Do you think Visa/MC will crack down on them soon?

Platinum Dave: We see the business value of pre-checked cross-sales, but only if they are properly displayed and disclose the appropriate information. It is imperative that surfers can clearly see all of the details involved in a membership. There are two kinds of pre-checked cross-sales: one which adds value, offering discounted and often free access; and one which burns the surfer, hitting them with hidden multiple charges. At Platinum Bucks we only support the former. Frankly, the adult online industry takes an unfair beating for pre-checked cross-sales; they're presence is ubiquitous in mainstream contracts, from cell phone agreements to buying a new car... It's a standard practice the world over. Visa and MasterCard should crack down on unethical practices like divulging credit card information to third parties and wrongful charges, not common business practices.

XBIZ: What is the biggest growth area in adult right now? Are you in it? If not, are you planning on getting into it?

Platinum Dave: Video-on-Demand is hugely popular right now and all signs — like the proliferation of tube sites, mainstream, adult, illegal, or otherwise — point to its eventual dominance over the marketplace. Simply put, it's a better way to watch online video. Adult Rental leads the way in VoD technology and we do it better than anybody else out there, offering High Definition streaming in a per second billing model. We've been developing our VoD applications for years, and the mainstream is only now dipping their toe in the marketplace.

XBIZ: If you had to sell one of your business lines, which would it be?

Platinum Dave: Frankly, there's not one business line we would sell at this point; it goes against our mantra of expansion and development.

XBIZ: I can't think of a person who hasn't told me that fraud of all types is on the rise, but not as bad as the good old days. What's your take on the state of fraud, and does anything surprise you today?

Platinum Dave: Nothing surprises me. The internet, by its international and anonymous nature, is particularly susceptible to dirty dealings. As long as there are desperate people, there will always be crime. However, we do everything we can to fight and prevent fraud. We have developed advanced fraud-screening tools that help us minimize the effects of fraud on our businesses.

XBIZ: What's the one thing you hate most about the business today?

Platinum Dave: Hate is a strong word. I would say I'm disappointed by the slowed innovation our industry has recently shown. For a business that has been historically on the cutting-edge of media development, we are taking more and more ideas from mainstream media. It should be the other way around; mainstream media should be taking ideas from us, as they have in the past.

XBIZ: What's the one thing you love the most?

Platinum Dave: The interesting people I meet. From the folks I chat with at the shows to the people that I work with, this business attracts a unique blend of individuals. Generally speaking, we are talking about very open and enlightened people with an indomitable sense of humour. I can't think of better crowd to run with!

XBIZ: If you could regulate porn, what would you regulate?

Platinum Dave: I'm a liberal person and in most cases shy away from government interference in a free market; that being said, the penalties we currently have for child pornography do not go far enough. It's a vile crime and deserves a harshest punishment. There needs to be more coordinated international action and accountability.

XBIZ: Tell me about your traffic? Where are you getting it from? What's changed over the past year or so?

Platinum Dave: Our traffic is very diverse and comes from all over the world. Platinum Bucks has been a major player in this business for over a decade, so we have strong holds in many different markets. As one of the oldest affiliate programs we are seeing webmasters putting their trust in our ability to meet their needs and payouts in tough economic times. We have continuously worked to strengthen our relationships with our affiliates, understanding that they are invaluable, driving much of our traffic.

XBIZ: Describe what Platinum Bucks will look like in 2010.

Platinum Dave: I can say with certainty that Platinum Bucks in 2010 will be stronger and more diversified, streamlined for success, with many products, each one expertly sharpened for its intended audience. Providing surfers exactly what they want, how they want it has been our strength since the beginning and we plan on getting even better at it.