The Most Downloaded Exec: 3

Matt O'Conner
In part two we learned about Danni's leap from web surfer to webmistress. In today's conclusion of our exclusive interview with Danni Ashe, we'll take a deeper look into her empire:

XBIZ: Why do you think you've been able to grow a small site into such an extensive enterprise?

DA: We've achieved what no other company has been able to do successfully in this industry: create a business that generates substantial profits and grow revenue both on and offline. Some of our competitors have had success in one offline realm, such as publishing, but have not been able to attract a large, loyal subscriber base on the Internet. Others have done well on the Internet but are not successful offline. I think that our programming has a lot to do with that — it's the highest quality, and it doesn't offend most progressive sensibilities. Our viewers feel satisfied and positive about their experience of our content. Danni's Hard Drive focuses on "female worship" instead of pandering to the lowest common denominator or on demeaning women, which affords us many more opportunities across a wide variety of marketplaces.

XBIZ: What are the challenges of growing an established enterprise?

DA: Our first challenge is reaching prospective new customers and showcasing the benefits of DHD in ways that are meaningful to them. Because we are shut out of most mainstream advertising, there is no quick solution to bringing in new customers. We have offset a lot of this challenge because of the public's interest in me and my career, but it is still something we face everyday. The second challenge is finding the best professionals in the business — models, photographers, designers, production talent and business managers — to keep up with demand for our product. Luckily, DHD has an excellent reputation as an employer, and we've been successful in our recruiting efforts and are constantly welcoming new talented team members.

XBIZ: How do you stay competitive in light of increased competition?

DA: Stick to your guns. While the adult-entertainment market is a $60 billion worldwide industry, it is still fractured without a clear market leader. There remains a significant global market opportunity for a company to step up and achieve that leadership position — and I believe that Danni's and our other brands are doing that. Danni's always tries to separate itself as the sought-after place to work for the best models and is constantly striving to create value for our customers. Danni's Hard Drive lets customers be comfortable in their own surroundings and always get a great intimate experience. I learned that through stripping: to be successful, you have to emotionally connect while you are fulfilling highly personal fantasies. Danni's Hard Drive hasn't gone the most hardcore route or duplicated whatever seemed to be selling at the time. We stayed 'Danni's' at our core and focused on expanding the channels through which we reach people. Another crucial element is having the best models. Danni's Girls are so different from what so many people expect in the adult entertainment industry. To be chosen as a Danni's Girl, a woman must be extremely sexy — and at the same time, friendly, approachable, down to earth, talented, playful, funny, intimate, honest and powerful. Our members detect these qualities, and they feel like they know these women's bodies and minds, which is what keeps them coming back every day to discover more about all of our models. We have a higher frequency of visit-per-user and a longer duration of visits by our members than other adult-entertainment websites — we hear that our subscriber lifetime is more than three times our competitors'.

XBIZ: Do you typically shoot models in-house or buy content?

DA: All of our content is original and is planned, produced and created in-house.

XBIZ: Do you think women prefer modeling and performing for a female-operated company?

DA: Absolutely. I've been exactly where they are, and I understand what they need to feel in order to contribute their best. Women who become Danni's Girls are treated with true respect and admiration, both on and off camera. We offer our employees outstanding financial incentives and benefits. Every subscriber has the opportunity to see Danni's Girls strutting their stuff — proudly and on their terms, which creates a truly unique energy which is present in all of our media products.

XBIZ: I've read that you call yourself a control freak. As your business has grown, have you had to let go of the reins a bit?

DA: Letting go of the reins somewhat was the easiest decision of my life! I believe in a healthy balance between my work and my personal life. My husband of 10 years and I are planning to start a family soon; because of that, I have recruited and trained a strong management team to help lead certain aspects of the daily operations of Danni's Hard Drive. It allows me to focus on the strategic opportunities and next wave of creative decision, and balance that with my home life.

XBIZ: Are you still the most downloaded woman on the Internet? In 2000, you had been downloaded 1 billion times — do you have any idea what that number has grown to?

DA: We haven't tracked that in a while; I do know that my images have been downloaded more since 2000 than they ever were before. My guess would be that I am still the reigning champ.

XBIZ: What do you envision for yourself and your company in, say, 20 years?

DA: This is a business that changes rapidly; I tend to think strategically in about five-year increments. That said, I would like to be known as the woman behind the global media company that made sex fun and acceptable and empowering for all adults. I'd like to have our content viewed and discussed by couples and groups of friends like they would talk about an episode of "Desperate Housewives."