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Q&A With BaDoink CEO Todd Glider

Rhett Pardon

Todd Glider, the chief executive of BaDoink, is anticipating a relatively busy 2014. Glider, who has built a modestly sized company into a multimillion-dollar operation since tapped for the position three years ago, has a number of projects underway, and the company, known for unique marketing techniques and exploration into new technologies, is poised to roll them out in the coming year.

XBIZ World sat down with Glider to find out more about BaDoink, the company’s new projects and how he runs the business in this Q&A.

Today, BaDoink is seen by industry insiders as a leader, with some visionary marketing techniques, a key player in the mobile explosion.

XBIZ: How many years have you been involved in the industry and where did you get your start?

Glider: Back in the winter of 1998, I was getting ready for a move to Los Angeles to shack up with my then-future wife. I picked up a Los Angeles Times from a Market Street newsstand, and circled a few ads. One of them was for an HTML programmer. The ad didn’t disclose much additional information. Just the phone number and email address. I’d made a web page or two by then, so I shot off an email, and they penciled me in for an interview.

Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, I drove to an office at the Imperial Bank building, the one alongside the Sherman Oaks Galleria; this was back when the Galleria still looked like it did in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

The office was very corporate, the atmosphere professional and orderly. Nothing to indicate that this was one of the two or three biggest adult Internet enterprises on the planet at the time. It was clear from jump street that iGallery would be a great place to work; it was equally clear that I was no HTML programmer.

Still, Scott Schalin, the guy that interviewed me, liked my portfolio, which was an amalgam of academic writing and on-and-offline zine publication. And I got the call back a couple of weeks later. I was hired to write erotic copy, a role that would eventually evolve into creative director.

An exciting time. Not to suggest that there’s anything boring about tech now, but it was still so new on a macro level. From a development and marketing perspective, this was a very big bang.

You could go from idea to execution to market in a week, and you could do it with full blown abandon. It’s important to remember that before digital, mass-marketing anything was laborious and expensive. You could not come up with an idea while you were parked on the 405 freeway and see it realized four days later. And you could not so easily or quickly see the data — the data that told you whether that realized idea was genius or full of shit.

That was what was so new. That was what was so glorious and intoxicating about those early days.

XBIZ: What is the story behind CM Productions, and what is the BaDoink brand all about?

Glider: CM Productions was created in 2002. It was and is the brainchild of Jeremy Hevery and Mark Hoashi. The two met in Rochester, N.Y., after graduating from University of Rochester. BaDoink.com launched in 2005, with BaDoinkCash.com following a year later.

The word “BaDoink” is an onomatopoeia for sexual congress, like Fap is today.

BaDoink, the idea behind it, is technology. That was the core vision and focus from the very beginning. Remain focused on the innovations in IT. Channel that innovation into the product, into the front end and the back end. Focus on the delivery of content to the end user, rather than the content itself.

So whereas some companies in our sector would invest a lion’s share of money into the production of exceptionally produced content, CM Productions’ R&D went into staying on the leading edge of technology, ensuring content could be streamed and downloaded from every device, ensuring every user interface behind the pay wall was as user-friendly and intuitive as possible.

The BaDoink team created the Ultra interface, for example, modeled after iTunes. A standalone software application that afforded members the ability to stream and download porn outside of the browser. It included then, as it does now, plugins for burning DVDs, plugins for streaming videos wirelessly to the TV, the ability to export content to iTunes.

For most of the past three years, I was the only non-coder at CM Productions. Just about everyone — marketers, designers, coders, of course — knows PHP, HTML5, JQUERY, CSS and whatever I’m forgetting.

Consequently, we’ve the know-how to create virtually everything in-house.

The company’s always had a foot in the mainstream. In 2008, mere weeks after iTunes unveiled its SDK, we had apps in the App Store.

XBIZ: You came over to BaDoink more than three years ago with the hope that you’d guide the company to stronger foothold in the adult and mainstream marketplace. It sure looks like you have. Are you proud of accomplishing that?

Glider: Certainly. On my watch, we have grown dramatically. I’m proud of that. We’ve gone from a modestly sized company to a multimillion-dollar operation with a stellar workforce.

Previously, BaDoink was a bit of a mystery. It was a company you’d heard of but didn’t know much about. And there was some bad press out there, emanating from misinformed, technologically soft insiders who relish the bully pulpit and spend more time reading GFY than TechCrunch.

Today, BaDoink is seen by industry insiders as a leader, with some visionary marketing techniques, a key player in the mobile explosion.

XBIZ: How about for webmaster programs, what does BaDoink have to offer? How about other products and services?

Glider: As a company that’s always focused more on ad buys and campaign optimization than on reseller management, the BaDoinkCash affiliate is pretty self-directed and experienced individual or entity. We don’t send out affiliate newsletters, generate galleries or deploy fleets of sales tools weekly.

That isn’t to say that we’re aloof. We develop some mighty advanced tools with the reseller in mind. All of our marketers, from our CMO on down, interface with BaDoinkCash affiliates on a daily basis.

We just tend to attract a smaller pool of affiliates who command a lot of traffic, rather than a large pool with less traffic. Most of our affiliates are seasoned professionals, people who understand the business, know their traffic, and have their own proven marketing strategies.

We’ve developed a small brokerage division, and gotten into mobile traffic sales of late — non-U.S. specifically. Among other products, at present, the BaDoink Downloader is available in GooglePlay, and in the iTunes App Store as the Ultra Downloader.

XBIZ: What’s coming up for the company in 2014?

Glider: We’ve several new projects underway currently that I’m excited about. First and foremost is WellHello.com, an adult dating site that was built from the ground up for the mobile user. It’s responsive, so perfect for every device, but we wanted to make sure it hit the tones and tropes unique to the mobile experience. WellHello.com is a collaborative venture, undertaken with Tim Whale, an industry vet and old friend who’s been operating a successful swinger site marketed to the U.K. for years.

Other changes include a completely revamped BaDoink.com. The brand has grown dramatically over the past few years, but we want to be seen as something more multi-dimensional, more mainstream accessible. So we abandoned the notion of BaDoink.com, the type-in URL, as a tour.

It’s an online magazine now. We hired an editor-in-chief with publishing experience to recruit a team of writers around the globe. He passes along assignments and they produce copy. And these are real writers, folks who graduated from degree bearing institutions like Perdue, Oxford and Rutgers. So it’s all abundantly readable, informative, entertaining. The focus is the intersection of tech, sex and lifestyle. We’re still pushing visitors to join BaDoink from “the magazine,” but it’s by no means the only focus.

We’ll also be unveiling a new site built on exclusive content, as well as a few new apps and products, but I’d need an NDA from everyone to go into detail.

XBIZ: What sector of the online adult business is driving the market these days?

Glider: Handhelds and dating. Hardly a great insight, but there is no denying it.

It’s not really a sector, but key partnerships are real drivers now, specifically those that imbue any brand, any product with a more global stamp.

For example, our main focus has always been U.S. and Canada, where credit card is king. As such, we understand credit card billing very well. Our relationships are with processors, ISOs, acquirers and issuers. The Glider Continued from page 28 metrics we follow are fraud-to-sale ratios, discount rates, transaction fees, rolling reserve rates. The list goes on.

Meanwhile, there’s a whole world out there where credit card is not king, where mobile payment is the preferred method of payment, where the carriers rule the roost. Up until the last year or two, that wasn’t even on my radar. But thanks to friends in the business — companies like Kimia, Sex Goes Mobile, First Mobile Cash, Wister, Dimoco — I learned a lot about what we were missing.

Non-U.S/Canada traffic is unavoidable for us. Historically, for a company like ours, that was remnant traffic, traffic that’s tougher to monetize. Not anymore. Partners like those I mentioned above make monetizing that remnant traffic much more profitable. And it’s a two-way street. We do the same for them. U.S. traffic, our focus, is their remnant traffic.

So that sort of thing, that kind of synergy. It’s not a sector of the business. But the companies that stay on top or rise to the top will be looking for partnership opportunities that will generate globally beneficial dividends.

XBIZ: What are your concerns for the adult entertainment industry?

Glider: Thinking short term instead of long-term. An unwillingness to look beyond your nose. This is not a failing exclusive to the adult entertainment industry. It’s cultural. Nobody has a sense, or even an assumption, of job security anymore. The notion of climbing the ladder in the same company, a job for life, is a thing of the past. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting.

This has a far-reaching cultural impact, good and bad. On the bad side, it inspires decision makers to act rashly, ignore fundamentals, grab as much as you can as quickly as possible, and to hell with the consequences.

XBIZ: What’s a typical work day like?

Glider: Busy.

Check stats. Ready techie blogs. Respond to Emails. Make calls. Hold meetings. Discuss strategy. Jot down ideas. Check on the progress of projects. Eat. Repeat.

XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?

Glider: I like to write plays for the stage and make rock ‘n roll music.

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