JenniCam Forced To Close

Tina Reilly
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One of the pioneers of the web cam niche announced plans to cease operations after seven successful years. JenniCam founder and model Jennifer Ringley will close her 24-hour web portal by Dec. 31, 2003.

At the height of its popularity, JenniCam attracted more than 100 million visitors per week, all wanting to peer into the private life of the pretty, redheaded college girl.

Ringley's voyeur site inspired scores of similar websites that would one day become a popular and profitable business model for many adult webmasters.

"I don't feel I'm giving up my privacy," Ringley once stated on her website. "Just because people can see me doesn't mean it affects me. I'm still alone in my room, no matter what."

Ringley reportedly attributes her site's closure to persistent billing problems with PayPal, which changed its policy recently and no longer does payment processing for adult entertainment websites.

As stated on the JenniCam website, all existing member accounts will expire no later than the end of the month. The site is no longer processing new subscriptions.

Ringley started JenniCam in her dorm room at Pennsylvania's Dickinson College in 1996 as a link to The Peeping Moe (Peepingmoe.com), another pioneer in the adult web cam space.

JenniCam was an instant hit and Ringley immediately transfixed Internet audiences by sharing every moment of her intimate life with anyone with an Internet connection and a penchant for voyeurism.

Ringley became the first web cam site to charge viewers a $15 annual subscription fee in 1997, which initially spiked a backlash from fellow webmasters and some of her fans.

"For people stating JenniCam is commercial: If charging money makes me commercial, so be it," Ringley stated in an open letter in 1997. "However, none of the money being brought in from subscriptions comes to any of us. If the JenniCam ends up making millions of dollars, then what? I'll host the site myself. I'll get the T power and processor power I need and run it myself. No more administrative contacts, no more host and routing problems."

During the early years of JenniCam, Ringley worked as a freelancer for National Geographic and then left her post to devote herself full-time to JenniCam and support herself through a series of odd jobs.

She became a media darling during the late 1990s and was invited to appear on the "Late Show With David Letterman." She also made a cameo appearance in the Hollywood indie film "Hollywood PA."

Ringley's JenniCam was featured in an exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and her life was profiled in a Penthouse editorial on "Women of The Net." She was also featured in dozens of other articles and news segments for being an icon of the web cam craze.

In an email obtained by The Washington Post, Ringley described her recent difficulties with PayPal.

"They've disabled my account so I'm not able to accept subscriptions," she wrote. "I guess I've given up."

PayPal later confirmed that it had closed her account because of the presence of nudity on the site.

XBiz was unable to speak with Ringley at the time of this printing.