It's been a year of triumphs and tribulations, and many of them are quite notable. XBIZ World magazine names its annual list of the year's Top 50 industry newsmakers. Here they are:
ADULT APP MART
With only a little over a year under its belt, Android app developer, AdultAppMart made news when it debuted the “Wonder Weiner” app on the heels of former Congressman Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-N.Y.) official resignation. The company also earned three 2012 XBIZ Award nominations for Mobile Services Company, Progressive Company of the Year, and Innovative Web/Tech Product of the Year. If that’s not enough, it launched an affiliate program, app development services and adopted QR codes for the desktop version of its site.
Content provider and 2011 XBIZ Innovative Web Product of the Year Award winner AdultCentro reached a milestone in 2011 with its library of HD videos and scenes that topped more than 11,000 movie titles and 60,000 scenes along with hentai content. The company also launched its B2B content rights marketplace — a one-stop-shopping experience for content rights acquisition. AdultCentro also integrated Sofort.com’s payment services as its site-builder biller as well as for payments of AC services in both AC Publisher and AC Market. A suite of full pay site skins was also rolled out that included a newly designed Mobile 3 Skins template for Publisher Wizard mobile sites.
VOD giant AEBN took home the 2011 XBIZ award for VOD Company of the Year in January. The juggernaut continued with a push into the gay market announcing an exclusive deal with gay producer Helix Studios and a deal with Channel 1 Releasing (C1R) to bring its Rascal line of films to the VOD company’s network of PPV theaters. Director Nica Noelle, who created Sweetheart Video, Sweet Sinner Films and Sweet Sinema Films also signed a production deal with the company for a new girl/girl studio, Candy Girl Films, and feature studio Hard Candy Films. The company also rolled its RealTouch a software development kit and announced that it would cease sales of the devices through third-party distributors and sell directly. Webmasters were happy to hear that the company increased its base affiliate payout percentage to 30 percent. AEBN’s GunBlazing gay affiliate program overhauled Raging Stallion’s RearStable.com paysite, has undergone a structural overhaul and added three straight paysites.
AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation stepped up its mandatory condom crusade in 2011 with pressure that contributed to the shut down of AIM, the adult industry HIV testing facility. The group filed complaints with Cal/OSHA against Vivid for its lack of condom use in productions and picketed outside of the 2011 XBIZ Awards in Hollywood. It got even more serious when the group accused the Free Speech Coalition of obstructing a medical investigation by the Los Angeles County Public Health (LACPH) regarding the possible HIV exposure of an adult industry performer involved in a Brazzers production. The group took its mandatory condom campaign to the California Supreme Court, asking for a review of a decision by a state appeals court panel that ruled Los Angeles County health officials couldn’t be forced to regulate the adult industry. AHF also announced it was launching a city ballot initiative that will allow voters to weigh in on a measure that would require adult productions that apply for film permits to use condoms.
The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection appointed digital forensics expert Tim Henning as its new executive director in 2011 after the resignation of Joan Irvine who served the group for nine years. Henning was part of the organization for 15 years. Some of the group’s efforts included a letter to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. and state Attorneys General offering a counterpoint to the organized anti-porn phone-in and letter-writing campaign and won its battle against the operators of fraudulent domain ASACP.co.uk — an entity unaffiliated with ASACP — that was emailing adult website operators and hosting companies, claiming that illegal child pornography was found on their services. ASACP also reported that it experienced an upsurge in reports of suspected child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline and forwarded more than 900 reports to international law enforcement authorities and other entities for further investigation.
BARRY GOLDMAN (Torture Portal)
Former Torture Portal operator Barry Goldman pleaded guilty to one count of violating terms of his supervised release last August. Goldman had six violations against him that were pared to just one with the agreement. Federal prosecutors did not reveal details of the alleged violations at the time the deal was struck. Goldman earlier in 2011 agreed to an obscenity plea deal requiring three years of probation, to wear a location-monitoring device for six months and be forced to disclose all business involvement during the probation. The penalties were for obscenity charges resulting from an indictment by a federal grand jury for the distribution of “Torture of a Porn Store Girl,” “Defiant Crista Submits” and “Pregnant and Willing” being sent through the mail in 2006 and 2007.
Cal/OSHA was at the center of California’s adult performer safety requirements and the controversy over proposed mandatory condom use in adult productions including enforcement through the granting of film permits in Los Angeles. In August, the organization sent a memo to the L.A. City Attorney in an attempt to hand off enforcement of health and safety regulations to local agencies that met with stiff opposition by the Free Speech Coalition that runs the Adult Production Health & Safety Practices (APHSS) unit. Cal/OSHA’s alignment with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) was also questioned.
Affiliate program CE Cash took home the coveted 2011 XBIZ Affiliate Program of the Year – Multi-Platform Award. It also debuted its new dating platform, CitySex.com as a Diamond Partner during the 2011 XBIZ LA Conference.
CommerceGate continued to expand its presence in the U.S. market with the hiring of Brad Eells and Ananda Sisk. The online industry veterans brought years of experience to the table and are charged with furthering CommerceGate’s U.S. initiatives. The international payment service provider also inked a partnership deal with Netherlands-based cash program SEXMoney.com and targeted global expansion by taking advantage of CommerceGate’s strong relationships with international and U.S. banks, fraud-scrubbing tools and billing solutions.
Online gay content provider Corbin Fisher and XBIZ Award winner of Gay Site of the Year, had a busy 2011. Liberty Media Holdings, its parent company, launched GuysGoneBi.com targeting the bisexual markets. The studio also broke ground on a huge studio in Las Vegas. On the legal front, the company extended its limited-time $1,000 amnesty offer to torrent users sharing Corbin Fisher content that ended in February. It also won piracy suits, and was awarded $63,000 default judgment against a Canadian BitTorrent user who allegedly shared two of the studio’s scenes and $1.4 million default judgment against Corey Debarros of Miami, Fla., who operated PornILove.net, a site that allegedly distributed stolen content. The company wasted no time and acquired the top-level domain name, Gay.xxx — promising to make it the one-stop destination for all things gay.
2011 marked the 11th year of the Cybersocket Awards Show. In grand style, the event chose the 15,000 square foot The Factory nightclub in West Hollywood for honoring the very best in GLBT online adult entertainment. Partygoers who were treated to an evening of extravagant entertainment courtesy of Frenchie Davis, and Chi Chi LaRue, who DJ’ed the pre and post award festivities. Chico’s Angels hosted the Awards and NakedSword’s Tim and Roma kicked off the event with red carpet interviews.
Dating and webcam affiliate program DatingGold celebrated its 8th anniversary in 2011. The company announced the addition of ACH payments for U.S.-based banks and
a mobile version of its white label solution including m.AmateurMatch.com with new Single Opt model pay-per registration payout program. Also announced was the addition of Untrue.com to its affiliate program that features profiles of men and women willing to engage in discreet affairs.
International billing provider eMerchantPay polished its industry stance by being honored with the Marketing Campaign of the Year award at the 2011 XBIZ Awards show.
Santa Monica-based Epoch celebrated its 15th year of service in 2011, processing credit cards, online checks and other international payment types for Internet merchants. The firm demonstrated its progressive stance by adding Ukash as a new payment option for Europe, South Africa, South America, Canada and Australia.
Eurowebtainment, Europe’s business event for interactive adult entertainment across the Internet, telecommunication and SAT/WEB-TV celebrated its 10th anniversary last November in Vienna. Company reps from more than 30 countries convened to generate new business contacts and learn about the latest trends and technologies.
Evil Angel directors Joey Silvera and Jay Sin launched websites for Evil Angel through Gamma Entertainment’s FameDollars. Silvera’s debuted IloveBlackShemales.com, with multi-format options and iPad, smartphone and tablet compatible content. Sin introduced MilkEnema.com that features a collection of movies from this niche.
AEBN’s Falcon Studios celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011 and the party lasted all year with Falcon/Raging Stallion announcements that included a content deal with VOD network Maleflixxx, the acquisition of Studio 2000, a marketing deal with Gun Oil lubricants, and co-productions with Next Door Entertainment. The studio also signed a number of exclusive performers including Heath Jordan, Donny Wright, Andrew Jakk, Jason Michaels and Cameron Foster. Falcon also introduced FalconTV.com where viewers can download-to-own a variety of scenes and debuted Hunt, a bi-weekly electronic magazine offering fans free content, news and information about the studio.
Fleshlight announced that it officially sold more than 4 million adult toy products since its debut. The company also partnered with Digital Playground for a “Pirates” line and with of LiveGonzo.com, that allows fans to participate in live, interactive movies. The company also unveiled Blade, the newest Fleshlight in its product line and the first new product from the company in 10 years, and expanded its line of Fleshlight Girls masturbators with the launch of European Fleshlight Girls. Media buzz centered around a company article in Redbook Magazine focusing on sex during and after a pregnancy, the launch of a new web series called TheFleshlife.com, which gives fans a glimpse at what goes on inside the Fleshlight offices, and a $1 million endorsement offer to actress Lindsay Lohan. Personnel changes included the hiring of Ryan Keely as head of the Fleshlight Girls division in its business development department.
FREE SPEECH COALITION
2011 marked the 20th anniversary of adult industry watchdog Free Speech Coalition and once again the organization was put to the test fighting for adult and protecting First Amendment rights. Key battles included its stand against the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s condom-only crusade, the continued challenges of the federal 18 U.S.C. § 2257 record-keeping requirements and its opposition and cautionary campaign concerning the newly adopted .XXX domains. FSC executive director Diane Duke squared off against ICM Registry’s Stuart Lawley in a lively debate over the controversial top level doman at the inaugural XBIZ EU digital conference in London. When not fighting the good fight, the FSC managed to launch its Adult Production Health and Safety Services (APHSS) program and database that was created to fill the gap left by the closure of the AIM clinic and to carry on health and safety protocols for adult productions. The FSC was proactive in calling a production moratorium after the “Patient Alpha” HIV scare. The group also announced its new board of directors and bolstered its adult anti-piracy service, Anti-Piracy Action Program (APAP).
Boca Raton Fla.-based FriendFinder Networks, parent company of Penthouse and social networking and dating websites began trading stock publicly in May of 2011. Late in the year it reorganized its business operations by splintering the company into 14 divisions to make each more accountable to the bottom line. In November it said it was close to a settlement deal with Facebook over infringement claims arising from the operation of FacebookOfSex.com.
Private Media’s Gamelink added its VOD library for viewing on Apple TV and rolled out a new cloud-based pay-per-minute platform for streaming of video content online. On the down side, the company was hit by a suit from Joao Control and Monitoring Systems claiming it infringed on one of its patents that relates to video delivery, possibly through live cams.
Powerhouse Gamma Entertainment added to its network by acquiring adult tube site PornerBros.com last year. It also announced the addition of Paxum to its roster of payment options, launched its homeCams Model Broadcasting Network and introduced a new model referral program to the LiveBucks affiliate network.
Girlfriends Films finalized perhaps the most significant deal in its 10-year history, announcing its partnership with Amsterdam-based Abby Winters for its highly anticipated membership site. The agreement came after several months of work and literally years of research and planning, Dan O’Connell, the founder and president of Girlfriends Films told XBIZ in an exclusive interview. “We were approached by quite a few people who wanted to build and host our membership site, and we listened to a number of proposals,” O’Connell explained. “Abby Winters came with a great deal of experience running one of the top adult membership sites in the world, and they are a very close match for us in terms of work ethic, integrity and professionalism. The company also launched a new member’s site. Girlfriends made news when featured on Miami’s CBS 4 Nightly News about South Florida’s growing adult presence.
The big news for search giant Google was the launch of its Google Plus social networking feature that allows users of its Gmail, Google Talk, Google Reader and Google Profiles services to rank search results. Similar to a Facebook “Like,” the Plus feature offers a +1 button that allows social validation from users from a Google profile. In order to focus on Plus, the company shut down its social network Buzz. Google also revealed details about Dart, its new web programming language designed to make programming and building web applications easier.
Transgender website Grooby Productions and game company ThriXXX launched Grooby3D.com, a free, download-to-play interactive online experience where gamers can create their own shemale characters. The Grooby Network also launched websites for performers Brittany St. Jordan and Michelle Austin along with website Shemale.XXX.
XBIZ 2011 Best VOD Award winner HotMovies.com snagged a number of “hot” releases including fan favorite, Girlfriends Films’ “Poor Little Shyla,” an exclusive streaming deal with X-Play including its porn classic “Brady Bunch” series, “Not Mash XXX” and more. Early in the year, the company launched HotMoviesForCouples.com, a site focusing on the more romantic side of adult entertainment. It also scored the release of its eighth exclusive classic from the Command Cinema library — Cecil Howard’s “October Silk.”
HUSTLER (LARRY FLYNT)
Hustler’s online presence was bolstered in 2011 when Sapphire Media International, Europe’s largest distributor of adult entertainment content announced the launch of a new Hustler-branded HD adult channel that supports and delivers 3D content. Hustler also announced the addition of Paxum and Payoneer as additional HustlerCash payout methods. Hustler founder Larry Flynt’s talk kept attendees glued to their seats at the 2011 XBIZ Retail Expo. The industry icon also appeared on PBS’ Tavis Smiley show and was interviewed on CNN about his lifelong First Amendment crusade. His book tour for “One Nation Under Sex” caused a stir when he blasted California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his extra-marital affair claiming he may have fathered three illegitimate children. But Flynt’s legal woes with brother Jimmy Flynt continued over using the Hustler trademark that most recently resulted in a federal judge barring Jimmy from using the name. Flynt also kept politicos honest in 2011; offering scandalized former Congressman Anthony Weiner a job at Hustler and publicly offering $1 million for sex dirt on Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Perry.
CEO and founder Stuart Lawley got his wish in 2011 with ICANN’s landmark approval of the controversial .XXX TLD domain. The CEO of ICM Registry, the group behind .XXX, then got the green light to open registration to the adult community that exceeded application expectations with 80,000 requests that could prove to be a windfall for Lawley and ICM despite months of opposition from some in the adult industry and the FSC. Lawley announced that .XXX will be regulated by IFFOR, an independent non-profit entity made up of a nine-person Policy Council, including a child protection representative, a privacy and security expert, free-speech advocates and adult entertainment industry leaders. Lawley later stepped down as chairman of IFFOR, citing the need to create a bright line between the two groups.
Fetish filmmaker Ira Isaacs was arraigned in May on five new felony obscenity counts. The new federal indictments, which join three older ones, allege that Isaacs, through his Stolen Car Films and LA Media companies, distributed by mail “Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 7,” “Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 10,” “Hollywood Scat Amateurs No. 38,” “Trailers” and “Japanese Doggie 3 Way” — all deemed “obscene matter” by federal prosecutors.
The case against Kimberly Kupps, who co-operates namesake big-boobs site KimberlyKupps.com with her husband, crawled along in 2011. The adult performer was charged with 13 obscenity counts for content distributed over the Internet. As of last November, a Florida circuit court hadn’t set a hearing based on Kupps’ motion to determine the geographic scope of “community” as applied to her obscenity charges.
L3 Payments LLC, a provider of merchant processing solutions and consulting services, tapped Eric Munz as vice president of sales and marketing. Munz, a professional sales team/business development leader came to L3 with 10-plus years of experience in the payment processing space.
Corbin Fisher General Counsel and 1st Amendment advocate Marc Randazza continued his battle against online piracy by filing numerous bit torrent suits in California, Wisconsin and Nevada with plans for more. In June, the attorney defended 30 bloggers who have been targeted in a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP cases — suits intended to intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
Internet giant Manwin finalized a major mainstream push by cutting a deal with Playboy to operate its online and Playboy TV properties in 2011. Also last year, the company partnered with Wicked Pictures to manage the studio’s websites. It added to its impressive Brazzers growth with the acquisition of top-ranking tube site YouPorn.com and the Twistys’ websites and assets. Brazzers also launched its $1 million producer search that netted three new producers shooting for the site, with Just Dave from Light Speed Lasers taking the top spot. Brazzers Worldwide” European Tour content series also debuted. Late in 2011, Manwin teamed up with Digital Playground to wage an antitrust suit against .XXX operator ICM Registry and ICANN.
Adult app supplier MiKandi confirmed that AT&T Android users could access its adult app store by simply checking a box for “Unknown Sources.” It also debuted the iBoobs app that was banned from both the Apple App store and Google’s App market. The company partnered with Cherry Media S.L. (Cherrysauce) to launch a content service for MiKandi’s App Developer network as well as a deal with the Reporo mobile ad network. In-app billing, powered by MiKandi Gold also bowed in 2011.
Adult webcam community MyFreeCams.com won the prestigious award for Live Cam Site of the Year at the 2011 XBIZ Awards show.
It was a banner year for NETbilling President, Mitch Farber who was named Industry Pioneer at the XBIZ Awards in 2011 at the Hollywood Palladium. Farber was also inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame at the AVN Awards, while the company earned the Best Processor award at the Cybersocket Awards.
A mixed year was on tap for New Frontier as long time President Ken Boenish resigned from the transactional TV adult distributor under uncertain circumstances. The company also saw 2ndquarter revenues dip in its pay-per-view and VOD segments citing more consumer choices and lower discretionary spending. On the plus side, Eulos Technologies dropped claims against New Frontier over allegedly infringing on its patents and the company continued its international growth, particularly in Latin America and Asian markets.
Payoneer’s growth was buoyed when HustlerCash and VideosZ.com added the service to their payout options for webmasters. The company also launched a new peer-to-peer transfer service, allowing money to be sent from one Payoneer cardholder to another at 50 cents per transfer.
Big news from Pimproll was the introduction of Traffic Force, a new network of sites and tracking tools that allows webmasters to send traffic from premium domains including Porn.com and many other high volume sites providing more than 900 million impressions per month. Other news included the acquisition of TeenGirls.com and its content that includes more than 2,000 teen girls appearing on the site as well as its large catalog of 153 exclusive HD videos and bonus material.
As progressive as always, Pink Visual launched a “redesigned, revamped and reinvigorated” PinkVisual.com, the site’s first major facelift in several years. It also made its anti-piracy strategy for 2011 public, a move undertaken in part to encourage other adult studios to take steps of their own to deter online piracy. Another breakthrough was its PVLocker cloud-based content offering. Pink Visual’s legal battle with tube site Slutload.com was settled, but it filed a counterclaim against Inter-Avid Productions after being hit with a copyright infringement suit. The company also filed its own copyright infringement suit over poached content found on Motherless.com along with a suit against a British Virgin Islands company that operates seven adult-content tube sites.
The bunny had a big year in 2011. On the plus side, the company successfully converted to a private enterprise, opened a new London club, launched iPad apps for its website and back issues, settled a lawsuit with DirecTV, struck a big deal with Manwin for the management of Playboy TV and web properties, inked a mobile deal with European company net mobile AG and landed a few top name pictorials including Bree Olson and actress Lindsay Lohan. It took a hit however when its Playboy Club network TV show was cancelled after only three episodes (some say due to conservative pressure).
PRIVATE MEDIA GROUP
The Euro porn giant had its share of corporate intrigue in 2011. In late August, a Nevada judge appointed Eric Johnson, a Private director and CEO of Private division Sureflix, the receiver for the company. The receivership is the result of a Las Vegas suit that pit litigating shareholders — led by Consipio Holding BV, Tisbury Services Inc., shareholder Claudio Gianascio and shareholder and former CEO Ilan Bunimovitz — against current front-office management. The plaintiffs claimed the company has been rocked by embezzlement, among other charges, brought on by CEO Berth Milton and former shareholders. The company’s stock on the Nasdaq Stock Market has dipped substantially and it was delisted in November after trading on the securities exchange was suspended. Despite its company troubles, the company cut partnership deals with SexGoesMobile, CamContacts, a distro deal with Magik View and a VOD deal with France’s AB Group and a series with Voddler. It also announced that its VOD library was available for Apple TV and launched a retro porn site. A host of lawsuits against tube site copyright infringers were brought including XHamster, Slutload, SunPorno, TubeRip, YouJizz, JizzHut, Vid2C and others.
Popular adult affiliate program PussyCash announced the branded WebCamWiz white-label webcam site creator for webmasters. It also debuted a white label offering for the iPad mobile platform and the ability to check stats from mobile devices.
Reality Kings in August moved to acquire Slutload.com for an undisclosed amount. Slutload is one of the Internet’s top draws, according to Alexa, with a traffic rank of 452.
Mobile adult ad network Reporo inked a deal with app developer MiKandi that allowed developers to better monetize Android adult-friendly apps. The company also held a free seminar at the Phoenix Forum on how to make money in the adult mobile space.
Big news from the company came when managing director Christian Kreul announced he was leaving SexGoesMobile shortly after announcing a partnership deal with Private Media to distribute Private’s premium content on the SexGoesMobile affiliate network.
Live webcam show provider Video Secrets announced a new strategic partnership early in 2011 with SexToy.com, an online distributor of adult toys and novelties. The company also launched its Flirt Summit Conference in Los Angeles.
BDSM giant Wasteland.com celebrated its 17th anniversary in September. Also in 2011, site CEO Colin Rowntree received the FSC Leadership Award at the XBIZ LA Awards in February. Wasteland then inked a deal with CamWorld.com that binds the two historic online adult brands in the formation of WastelandLive.com. Pink Visual announced that content from Wasteland.com and its sister site Sssh.com were available for purchase on its PVLocker.com cloud-based content distribution platform.
E.U. non-card billing company Webbilling was honored with the 2011 XBIZ Award for Biller of the Year (Alternative). The company announced commencement of real direct debit billing for France and Italy. Personnel additions included the addition of Gerard Della Porta (aka “Mr. Romance”) to its U.S. and European sales team.
Expansion was the watchword for XBIZ in 2011 with the launching of new events including the inaugural and successful XBIZ EU international digital media conference in London, the debut of the XBIZ.net Miami Gathering and the first-ever XBIZ Retail Expo that ran in conjunction with the annual XBIZ LA Conference. The heavily attended events received top marks from some of the industry’s most prominent professionals and their success set the stage for their return in 2012. The summer brought the three-day XBIZ Summit to Chicago in 2011 that offered a wide array of topical seminars and networking events.
The “Paris Hilton Sex Tape” took center stage in XPays news in early 2011 when the company filed a copyright infringement complaint against 843 unnamed defendants identified as John Does for allegedly copying and distributing unauthorized copies of the video. In March, XPays offered amnesty to any of the John Does willing to come forward for a $500 fee. But in July it filed its second copyright infringement complaint against BitTorrent users who allegedly shared the tape. Also in July, the company launched RealJasmine.com, featuring the “Jasmine Waltz Sex Video.”