FriendFinder's Marc Bell Comments on Public Offering

Lyla Katz

BOCA RATON, Fla. — FriendFinder Network’s CEO Marc Bell said that the reason the company’s stock is off by 42 percent since an initial public offering on May 11 is because FriendFinder “did a very poor job getting the message out ahead of time.”

Speaking to the NYPost, Bell attempted to downplay the porn factor, a notion that many on Wall Street believe is the reason FriendFinder shares have slipped.

Bell said that Penthouse accounts for only 3 percent of FriendFinder’s business and added that it’s the customers who are posting the sexy pictures and messages — not the company.

“We make the software, we’re just a platform,” Bell said. “The consumers provide all the content.” Bell admitted, however, that his argument hasn’t persuaded enough investors.

The company operates Penthouse and AdultFriendFinder, as well as scores of other targeted social-networking sites.

Bell also commented on the LinkedIn stock, which has climbed 69 percent after its IPO launched more than a week after FriendFinder’s.

“We were the first social-networking IPO, not LinkedIn,” Bell said, upset that LinkedIn was given the “first” title.

According to Bell, FriendFinder has generated more than twice as much cash flow as LinkedIn last year on 40 percent more revenue. Bell, who recently scooped  up 100,000 shares, added that the company’s fast-improving results will fuel an eventual rebound for the stock.

Bell said he plans to fuel the growth with more acquisitions, some of which may be adult-oriented sites.

Last year, FriendFinder's plan was to sell at least 20 million shares for $10 to $12 each. But that IPO was yanked. At the time, Bell told XBIZ that it would not proceed with an IPO “until market conditions improve.”