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In the Executive Seat: Ilan Bunimovitz

Anne Winter
Ilan Bunimovitz helms what's slated to become the largest and most comprehensive affiliate network in adult entertainment, an ambitious and challenging responsibility after being named CEO of Private Media Group. It's a job he's eager and ready to take on, he said, and certainly will help fulfill his fascination with the endless opportunities the online world presents.

Private announced its plans to purchase online video-on-demand giant Gamelink, founded by Bunimovitz in 1993, in November 2008, and after completing the acquisition, Private's then-CEO Berth Milton named Bunimovitz in his place. Milton remains as president and chairman of the board.

"Gamelink wanted more exposure which was to be gained by joining a world-known brand such as Private, and Private needed to expand its distribution reach into the web," Bunimovitz said. "We discussed the prospect of enhancing Private's position as a global media company, distributing content on every channel worldwide. By merging the two, we are creating the 'best of our breed' in the industry."

Now in the driver's seat, Bunimovitz and his team are busy anticipating the industry's next bold moves, and as a leader in content delivery he anticipates mobile and direct web-to-TV platforms to take on a more significant role in the U.S. in the coming years.

Though it's been slow growing in the states, mobile delivery remains a popular method overseas, and Private recently extended its partnership with Twistbox Entertainment to distribute the company's library of images, video and mobile TV channels to 91 operator portals in 51 countries.

"Technological evolution is what has marked the adult industry the most," Bunimovitz said. "We have seen changes from VHS to DVD to VOD, and there is more to come. Technology is an industrious machine which never stops working."

He said much of his past success on tech side of adult is thanks to this steady evolution. In this day and age, technology is constantly progressing and changing, and in order to stay afloat and on top of his game, he's had to keep on his toes and anticipate change before it happens.

Having two strong brands behind him now, Bunimovitz can not only anticipate changing trends, but also spark brand new ones.

"We are trying new ideas all the time and I don't expect to succeed with all of them," Bunimovitz said. "We are comfortable failing at times. We just want to succeed more often."

One of his biggest plans as CEO of Private is to merge the European studio's and Gamelink's existing affiliate programs to create a powerhouse force to be reckoned with. These plans were initially announced mid-April, and this "one-stop shop" network is well into the development process.

"We are the only fully integrated distributor of content on every channel," Bunimovitz said. "We have a different level of reach than the typical content companies, who mostly have DVD or Internet distribution only. On top of that, we distribute worldwide."

Affiliates will have access to the stats, tools and promo materials needed to work with all of the new company's properties and all will be customizable to be compatible with any language, content niche or billing option it offers.

The 70,000-plus adult movies currently available on Gamelink.com will be available in multiple languages, currencies and pricing options, and newly acquired European content will be added gradually.

Upon the announcement of the affiliate programs' merger in April, Bunimovitz told an XBIZ reporter that this expansion, in addition to other initiatives in the works (including a proprietary website developed to offer customizable content exclusively for use on mobile devices), will offer brand new sources of profitable traffic; something at this point all businesspeople on the web seek.

"GameLink already receives a large quantity of international traffic, and by catering specifically to the needs of consumers in Europe, we'll be able to quickly — and significantly — increase our conversion rates and revenue," Bunimovitz said.

And though the adult industry has evolved just as significantly as the technology that drives it, Bunimovitz sees only the silver lining. Business models — successful ones — can't and won't stay the same for long, and he said the current state of the industry is merely changing the way we all work.

"The industry never stopped being a moneymaker and it still is," Bunimovitz said. "The silver lining is the opportunities that are arising. It makes life fun. It creates new competition and it will give many companies the possibility to capture more market share."

As CEO, Bunimovitz said he will focus on building Private's and Gamelink's distribution capabilities, increase both brands' presence in the U.S. market, and continue to explore and strike strategic partnerships with select companies to distribute Private's unique content.

But distribution is only half the battle, and he understands the need to also create products that the consumer is willing to purchase, and he feels confident that the company will be able to do so with the powerhouse team he has behind him. Having creative, driven and most importantly smart people in the company's San Francisco and Barcelona offices give the company a leg up on the competition.

"Many of us have been at it for 10 to 15 years, so we try to anticipate trends and plan for them," Bunimovitz said. "However, you can never be prepared for everything, so you need to be able to adapt quickly and think on your feet. I see these issues [currently affecting the industry] as opportunities and not as problems. It pushes you to create products and business models that are compelling enough for the customer to justify paying for."

Bunimovitz also offers some logical, though possibly easier to say than do, advice to those companies in the midst of the industry evolution — whether merging, acquiring or even folding — and preparing for what the future holds:

"You also must accept that some initiatives will fail, and encourage people to embrace and learn from failures. Not fear them."

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