LOS ANGELES — It's been a notable year with so many issues at hand. XBIZ World magazine names its annual list of the year's Top 100 industry newsmakers. Here they are:
Billing company 2000Charge added new options to its range of alternative payment solutions in 2012 that included Australia and New Zealand. It also announced the QIWI eWallet payment option for Russia, which it says is the country’s most popular and convenient online payment method.
2257 RECORD KEEPING
The Free Speech Coalition’s challenge to 2257 inspections was thrown to federal court in November where it weighed the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the Free Speech Coalition’s legal challenge over 2257 inspections. Last April, The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the FSC on several key points in its appeal over the dismissal of its lawsuit against the Justice Department giving the adult industry another chance to continue its fight against the federal record keeping and labeling law in attempt to render it unconstitutional.
AbbyWinters.com debuted a new educational video series called “AW Ed” aimed at answering topical questions about being a young woman in today’s society. The company also launched a new affiliate program in collaboration with Girlfriends Films.
ADAM & EVE
Adam & Eve.com early in 2012 announced the re-launch of its new and improved blog — Blog.adameve.com — that provides romance and sex advice, sex toy reviews, erotic stories and adult industry news. The blog also features podcasts, interviews, videos and articles on all things sexual. Company founder Phil Harvey also debuted his new Lost Coast Press thriller novel, “Show Time” — a modern day “Lord of the Flies” — for adults.
ADULT APP MART
In 2012, AdultAppMart and mobile content provider Cherry Media S.L. (Cherrysauce.com), partnered to develop new adult apps that the companies said are the next step in Cherry’s expansion into the app market. The deal offers developers a more “consumer-focused” portfolio of content to integrate into their concepts.
Notable news for AdultCentro was the announcement of its partnership with Vivid Entertainment to offer Vivid Feeds on its Publisher platform. Other developments included its AdultCentro Market notification system that delivers alerts about pending agreements to its clients’ dashboard. Also debuted was its AdultCentro Dating Solution Plug-In designed to improve conversions by offering value-adding incentives to the end-user, improve user retention, create new revenue opportunities by upselling to members to the AC Dating Video Feed, and allowing access to a library of more than 100,000 videos. The company also announced that the full library of adult content available from the AdultCentro Market’s seller community is compatible with and available for MechBunny delivery.
Early in 2012 London-based Adultmoda.com announced that it was offering mobile traffic from various mobile tube sites such as PornHub, YouPorn, YouJizz and others. The company also debuted its new adult mobile redirect solution, aimed at adult sites that do not have a mobile version, along with keyword/tag-based targeting that allows publishers to display the most relevant ads possible for each individual request. In the smartphone and tablet arena, Adultmoda announced the launch of mobile video post-roll ads that are displayed after a user views a clip.
ADULT WEBMASTER EMPIRE
Adult Webmaster Empire in 2012 unveiled an update to its flagship giant live webcam site, LiveJasmin.com, rolling out the new design based in California. New regions were also on the drawing board. The upgrade caters to all the latest devices, including smartphones and tablets, with an iOS-friendly delivery system that works equally well on iPad, iPhone, Android, laptop and desktop platforms. Instead of HTML5 technology, the updated site relies on the more established XHTML 1.0 Transitional coding standard.
Targeted advertising company AdXpansion.com announced a new optimization tool to help advertisers control costs in 2012. The offering allows advertisers to view costs segmented by campaign and traffic source.
Last summer, VOD leader AEBN, announced the adoption of HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) technology to deliver pay-per-minute adult VOD for its mobile customers. Other news included that users of its RealTouch product could connect with a live model over the Internet, and feel her every move.
XBIZ 2012 Mobile Services Company of the Year, Affil4You, continued its global expansion in 2012 with the addition of mobile traffic redirect and billing services for Italy. Managing director Joey Gabra hosted an affiliate workshop about monetizing mobile traffic at the Russian Affiliate Congress and Expo in Moscow last November.
AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION
Michael Weinstein’s AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) successfully gathered enough signatures to put “Measure B” — the “County of Los Angeles Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Act” on the Los Angeles County November ballot that ultimately became law, now requiring adult film actors to wear condoms while filming. The action sparked a backlash from the adult industry including public debates, battles over TV ads and the formation of the opposition Free Speech Coalition-backed “No on Government Waste Committee.”
The Free Speech Coalition’s Adult Production Health & Safety Services (APHSS.org) was at the forefront of performer safety in 2012 announcing the addition of Talent Testing Service, Cutting Edge Testing, SameDayTest.com and STDStatus.com to its network of performer testing facilities, along with a testing service in Las Vegas.
The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) announced a sharp increase in the use of its CP Reporting Hotline in 2012 especially during the months of September and October — a sobering trend but encouraging in its fight against child porn. New corporate sponsors last year included WTS, Gamma Entertainment, Saboom, BrokerBabe, AdultCentro, CCBill and OrbitalPay.
Affiliate program BlazingBucks.com partnered with Porno Dan’s Immoral Productions to launch ImmoralLive.com that offers consumers access to Immoral Productions’ shows, including “Squirtamania,” “Titterific,” “New Girl in Town,” “Cock Sucking Challenge,” “Slumber Party,” “Immoral Orgies,” “Toss My Salad” and the “Wheel of Debauchery.”
Braincash inked a deal with Smash Pictures for the company’s official studio site last October. The site features Smash’s entire collection of DVDs, including “Fifty Shades of Grey XXX,” “Big Boob Carwash 2,” “Bridesmaids XXX” and “Bus Stop 2.”
Mobile content provider Cherry Media S.L. (Cherrysauce.com), and AdultAppMart partnered early in 2012 to develop new adult apps that Cherry said was the next step in Cherry’s expansion into the application market.
Barcelona-based CommerceGate last April announced the introduction of additional multi-currency IPSP processing on its U.S. platform that enables merchants located in the U.S. and Canada to seamlessly process payments in multiple currencies. It also launched its Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that gives end users the option to make purchases over the phone via any touch-tone telephone, landline or mobile device. A new partnership with online dating provider Cupid PLC was inked continuing its push into the online dating industry. Last fall, CommerceGate announced that it is being powered by Mansion Productions’ MPA3 in beta version that allowed it to roll out a new state-of-the art proprietary affiliate program that adapts to local markets.
Brian Dunlap was named Chief Business Development Officer for the gay giant in 2012 — a step up from his COO position. A federal judge also sided with the company issuing a $550,000 judgment against file-locker site Oron.com and its operators in a $34.8 million infringement lawsuit, which Oron appealed in September.
CUM ON LIVE
CumOnLive.com, a new membership-based adult entertainment provider launched in 2012 with a mission to give consumers the ability to chat with their favorite adult stars and also win a chance to party with them in Las Vegas.
Standing to its long held tradition, the Cybersocket Web Awards went off without a hitch at The Factory nightclub in West Hollywood early in 2012 with Brent Everett winning the coveted “Best Porn Star” award. Other winners included director Chi Chi LaRue and Falcon Studios’ “The Other Side of Aspen VI.” The Cybersocket Web Awards is the only event of its kind honoring the best GLBT websites recognized for both “Surfer Choice” categories and “Industry Choice” categories.
New additions to its portfolio of websites kept DatingGold busy in 2012. The company added AdsForSex.com to its roster of sites available for affiliate promotion aimed at attracting surfers that are open about their search for a sexual partner. Also added were DatingAffair.com and CheatingHousewife.com along with expansion into the BBW dating market with HookupBBW.com. Late in 2012, DatingGold teamed up with traffic broker companies Grand Slam Media and Media Repsto to help manage most of the ad space on 16 of the company’s brands.
The sitting chief of the Free Speech Coalition was at the forefront of controversy in 2012 what with mounting performer health concerns and mandatory condom issues. Under her watch the APHSS testing service added new tests and facilities in Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas, along with STD Status. Duke also accepted a new three-year contract from the FSC Board of Directors to be CEO of the adult industry’s trade association.
Premiere studio Digital Playground was acquired by industry giant Manwin in early 2012 in a deal brokered by Ackrell Capital, a boutique financial advisor that specializes in negotiation and business valuations for mainstream and adult, tech and media companies. Digital Playground founder Joone said at the time, “To me this deal is no different than the acquisition of Pixar by Disney. The consumer is going to see more blockbusters, big-budget productions, and it’s our goal to create the next genre of adult entertainment.”
Mobile Payment provider DIMOCO expanded its network of countries last year to include billing in the Russian, Finnish, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish and Spanish markets. The expansion broadened the company’s reach to include 19 countries.
Content management software provider Elevated X, recipient of the 2012 XBIZ Software Company of the Year Award released a redesigned mobile paysite tour and members area for its popular adult CMS software in 2012 along with retina display support and automatic updates with the latest bug fixes, security fixes and performance improvements. Automatic mobile free-hosted gallery (FHG) creation was also added to its CMS for affiliates.
ePayService was adopted by PartnerCash as an additional payout tool in 2012. The addition allows PartnerCash to offer affiliates ePayService payouts immediately after payout options are chosen and once identification is uploaded and verified.
Epoch began providing payment processing for live video chat software creator 2much.net’s flagship site LiveCamNetwork.com. Epoch was also added to the company’s list of processors that support its proprietary billing script.
eMerchantPay opened its first U.S. office in Boca Raton, Florida in 2012 and tapped payment industry veterans Garima Shah and Karl Persaud to lead sales efforts in the country.
Internet, mobile, satellite and web TV exposition, Eurowebtainment kicked off last November in Vienna, Austria with more than 700 business professionals from 30 countries scheduled to attend.
EVIL ANGEL (FAMEDOLLARS)
Gamma Entertainment affiliate program FameDollars released Evil Angel founder John Stagliano’s feature web series entitled “Voracious” on EvilAngel.com. FameDollars also announced the launch of a new transsexual site from Evil Angel director Jay Sin called TSplayground.com. Other developments included Jonni Darkko’s return to directing for the company with “Girls Love Girls 4,” “Facial Overload: MILF Edition,” and the follow up to the 2007 “Bikini Series” series with “Bikini Clad Cum Sluts 2.” The studio also debuted “Evil Angels: Kristina Rose,” the first volume in a new compilation series that spotlights performer’s work with the studio’s stable of directors.
Adult mobile advertising network ExoClickMobile released a unique mobile-carrier targeting filter that allows clients to target specific 3G networks in late 2012. The Barcelona-based company also inked an exclusive agreement with DrTuber.com, Nuvid.com and xHamster.com to manage their entire mobile inventory. In September, ExoClick debuted its exclusive mobile monetization platform that allows publishers to create all-in-one customizable VOD mobile sites. Veteran media buyer Noémi Szabó joined the company’s team early in 2012. Last November, ExoClick said that it had broken its all-time traffic record with more than 2 billion ad impressions a day on both web and mobile devices.
The elusive 33-year-old “man who would be king” of porn, and programmer by trade, who sits at the head of Manwin strengthened his empire in 2012 with a number of key acquisitions including Digital Playground and key parts of Playboy’s online and TV assets among others. At a major 2012 Internet conference Thylmann maintained that his is a tech company first and that although an IPO is possible, he said he’d need to secure a non-porn mainstream company to make it happen. Thylmann did express interest in acquiring transactional TV company New Frontier Media, but decided against a bidding war with Hustler’s LFP Broadcasting that ultimately planned to purchase the company.
Falcon and Raging Stallion’s parent company, DataTech Enterprises, sued file-locker site Oron.com for unspecified damages last August after it found at least 400 titles on the site that were involved in more than 40,000 separate acts of infringement. Last fall, operators of the defunct Oron.com filed an appeal over a preliminary injunction against the company that froze its assets. Sad news hit the company in June when Falcon exclusive, 30 year-old Erik Rhodes died after suffering a heart attack while he slept.
FetishHits.com last May released release CockCrazyAmateurs.com, its new amateur website as well as 10 new mobile sites including Raw Gay Bears Mobile, Adorable Legs Mobile, Gay Bears Hardcore Mobile, Gay Bears Porno Mobile, Live Voyeur Porn Mobile, XXX Pregnant Movies Mobile, Pregnant and Fucked Mobile, Sinful Panty Sex Mobile, Wet Teen Panty Mobile and Cock Crazy Amateurs Mobile.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
Some called it the saving grace of the adult industry. The novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” has sparked the creation of products from movies to BDSM workshops, to a host of novelty products from top companies including Smash Pictures, CalExotics’ Pipedream, Hustler and more.
Last April, Hollywood sided with Flava Works by submitting a friend-of-the-court brief in the gay porn company’s appeal supporting a preliminary injunction issued against tube site MyVidster.com, which allegedly poached and streamed its content.
Fleshlight hit a milestone selling more than 5 million units in 2012. Its popularity was also bolstered with the addition of new Fleshlight girls including Bluebird Films contract stars, Jessica Drake, Kelly Shibari, Alexis Texas, Tanya Tate and a line of VNA Girl Fleshlights. The company also released its interactive Vstroker-enabled devices that let users “connect and interact” with their favorite Fleshlight Girls and the Fleshlight Shower Mount. On the corporate side, a new production plant was opened in Seville, Spain in order to meet the rising demand from European countries.
FREE SPEECH COALITION
As always, the Free Speech Coalition was on the front lines tackling industry issues and providing services to members of the adult community. 2012 saw the group bolster its APHSS performer testing services, adopt testing standards and take on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in its push to have the Measure B mandatory condom initiative adopted by Los Angeles County. The inaugural Free Speech Coalition Summit, a one-day event produced by XBIZ, was also announced that featured a slate of panels covering hot business topics of interest to adult industry professionals.
FriendFinder Networks Inc. CEO Marc Bell stepped down from his position last March, making way for new CEO Anthony Previte to transition to the top spot last July. Bell also considered running for Congress seat. In November, the company reported a net loss of $7.7 million in its third quarter as it saw revenue shrink in the same quarter to $77.7 million compared to $82.7 million in the same period of 2011. And last August the company shuttered 5,000 co-branded websites, calling them “ too cumbersome and cost prohibitive” to continue operating, shifting its focus of an affiliate network strategy to one that supports the further development of primary brands including flagship magazine Penthouse. Late in 2012 Previte said the company was close to launching a new interactive TV product in Europe and it planned to aggressively monetize social media initiatives. He also said that the flagship Penthouse brand planned to release an API to help stimulate growth.
Adult VOD provider Fyre TV launched the first native Android porn app for Google TV devices in October. Users can download it from FyreTV.com and as a third party app.
Gamma Entertainment’s sites were focused on acquisitions in 2012 with the additions of niche site NuruMassage.com and its network of sites, including AllGirlMassage.com, SoapyMassage.com, and Massage-Parlor.com. All four sites are being managed under Gamma’s FameDollars affiliate program. The company also launched gay adult tube site, GiveMeGay.com. Other new developments included a deal with Bluebird Films whereby FameDollars, a subsidiary of Gamma, manages and markets Bluebird’s web properties under its affiliate program. Gamma also received the Internet Company of the Year award from the 2012 Free Speech Coalition (FSC) Awards.
Gamelink was freed from Private Media Group last May as part of a settlement deal with former Private CEO Ilan Bunimovitz and a number of investors. All of the outstanding stock in GameLink’s operating parent companies ThinkForward Inc. and GreenCine Inc. was shifted to Bunimovitz, as well as investing shareholders Andrew Sullivan and Peter Marinac. In September, Jeff Dillon was promoted to the position of vice president of business development. Shortly thereafter, the company announced a deal to manage Homegrown Video’s Homegrown Store.
The Girlfriends Films juggernaut continued in 2012 with the addition of a number of new titles including the popular “Poor Little Shyla 2,” “Pin-Up Girls” series and the re-launch of its “Netskirts” series. The studio also released its first ever boy/girl film, “Voila” directed by B. Skow who signed on with the company earlier in the year. Girlfriends also launched a new affiliate program in collaboration with AbbyWinters.com.
Google made a number of changes in 2012 including three that specifically impacted adult content searches including SafeSearch to unify the handling of adult video content in videos mode and in the main search results; a change in the update of its synonyms systems to make it less likely Google would return adult content when users aren’t looking for it; and an update to its SafeSearch algorithms to better detect adult content. The search giant also announced that sites generating too many copyright takedown notices would be moved lower in search rankings. In response to the growth of the mobile arena, Google released a new set of Mobile App Analytics reports to help better measure mobile app marketing performance. On the legal front, the company and Perfect 10 agreed to dismiss the eight-year legal copyright infringement battle against Google over copying and distributing thumbnails of Perfect 10’s images.
Grooby Productions partnered with Third World Media in 2012 to launch ThirdWorldShemales.com. The companies also released their T-girl collaboration “Shemale.XXX Goes to Bangkok.” Grooby also debuted Ladyboy.xxx, a ladyboy site featuring exclusive hardcore and solo-scene content from new producers, and introduced U.K.-based transsexual performer Jordan Jay’s official website, JordanJayxxx.com.
Because of Mastercard restrictions, HotMovies announced in early 2012 that it was discontinuing its affiliate-owned URLs on custom video theaters. Its female-centric sister site, HotMoviesForHer.com offered up a redesign with new layout, easier navigation and more customizable options. Erotic filmmaker Cecil Howard was celebrated on the website with his epic four-hour saga “Last X-Rated Movie” in its entirety for the first time on the Internet.
In early 2012 Hustler acquired Sapphire Media, a European distributor of adult content to television, VOD and wireless devices. But that paled in comparison to its announced plan last October for LFP Broadcasting to acquire transactional TV service New Frontier Media in a deal valued in excess of $33 million. Web news in 2012 included the relaunch of Hustler Mobile and the addition of Sarah Jayne Anderson to the position of HustlerCash affiliate manager.
XXX.com operator ICM Registry launched a directory for developed .XXX sites — XXX.XXX in 2012 along with a “Look Who Is Using .XXX” website directory listing nearly 130 .XXX sites with rotating linkable large and small banner ads. ICM also announced the release of more than 1,000 premium generic keyword domain names. In April it applied for three more adult-related TLDs (top-level domains) — .sex, .porn and .adult. The summer saw CEO Stuart Lawley — the mastermind behind the adoption of the .XXX TLD — profiled in an in-depth article in Bloomberg’s Businessweek. In November of 2011 Manwin filed a suit over .XXX claiming that ICM Registry received original and renewal top-level domain registry contracts without competition, is charging above-market .XXX prices, imposes other anticompetitive .XXX sales restrictions and has, because of its ICANN contract, precluded other adult-oriented top-level domains from operating. Manwin also named ICANN in the suit. Last October, ICM fired back in a countersuit that made scores of allegations, including that Manwin, as well as its Digital Playground division and co-plaintiff, engaged in predatory acts to prevent and coerce others in the adult entertainment industry from utilizing the .XXX TLD platform. In November, ICM amended the suit making new allegations of unfair competition involving Manwin’s acquisition of Reality Kings.
Fetish filmmaker Ira Isaacs was found guilty on five counts of violating federal obscenity laws last April for distributing four films — “Mako’s First Time Scat,” “Hollywood Scat Amateurs #7,” “Hollywood Scat Amateurs #1” and “Japanese Doggie 3 Way.” His sentencing was postponed in Los Angeles in August and no new date was released. Judge King made a preliminary order ruling Isaacs must forfeit all of his websites — ScatMovies.com, VeronicaJett.com and ToiletJasmine.com, among 40 others — and copyrights, as well as the movies deemed obscene. Isaacs was also ordered to forfeit all computers, servers, props and video equipment as well. Late in 2012, U.S. prosecutors conceded that they wouldn’t press “vulnerable victim” sentencing adjustments that would have substantially raised the penalty for his obscenity convictions.
Boy-next-door porn star James Deen skyrocketed to mainstream popularity in 2012 after being handpicked by screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis for the lead role opposite Lindsay Lohan in the Paul Schrader-directed mainstream film “The Canyons.” Deen’s “Q” score amped up with numerous newspaper, TV and magazine interviews including Rolling Stone, The New York Observer, and GQ. Novelty giant Doc Johnson tapped the star’s privates for special James Deen Signature Cock dildo and vibrator collections. The rumor mill was also buzzing about Deen starring in the lead role of Hollywood’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” feature film.
The “No on Government Waste Committee” formed to oppose Los Angeles County’s Measure B that would require porn performers to wear condoms during filming, saw a firebrand advocate in spokesperson James Lee. The campaign’s communications director came to adult from The Lee Strategy Group, Inc. (LSG). Prior to forming LSG, Lee was a director at the global PR firm Burson-Marsteller working on a wide array of issues, including utility deregulation, wireless standards, biotechnology and healthcare, business-to-business marketing, labor relations, environmental communications, community outreach and coalition building. He also has extensive experience in HIV and AIDS drug development having worked for biotech firms searching for cures and treatments. Lee battled the measure in the media and regularly took on the initiative’s proponents including AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein, citing a waste of taxpayer money and a loss of industry jobs.
Girls Gone Wild chief Joe Francis continued his legal woes in 2012 battling — and losing — to casino mogul Steve Wynn to the tune of $40 million in damages after all was said and done in a slander case. He was also accused of fraudulently transferring companies he controls in a scheme to evade paying off a woman who won a $5.77 million judgment after she sued over the nonconsensual use of her image in one of his videos.
Evil Angel founder John Stagliano debuted another directorial tour de force with his unique vampire web series called “Voracious.” The ambitious project was later released as a DVD. Stagliano was also inducted into Hustler’s Walk of Fame last March.
Adult performer Kimberly Kupps, whose real name is Theresa Taylor, and her husband both agreed to a “no contest” plea deal over obscenity to a Florida circuit court early in 2012. The pair was guilty of a single misdemeanor offense and imposing a fine of $325. Kupps was charged in July of 2011 with 13 felonies for violating the distribution and sale of obscene material and one for the wholesale promotion of obscene material for content on her namesake site, KimberlyKupps.com.
Fetish giant Kink.com announced a revamped FuckingMachines.com earlier this year that included four live streaming shows each month. Keeping with its extreme posture, the company also launched TSPussyHunters.com, MenOnEdge.com, FootWorship.com and HardcoreGangBang. Kink’s San Francisco armory headquarters opened a high-end cocktail lounge and announced a Workshop Series to help people explore their sexuality. The company also announced a production studio to be based in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley.
Hustler founder Larry Flynt never disappoints and 2012 was no exception. He took on Washington’s powerful once again with an ad in the Washington Post offering $1 million for information on any possible sex scandal involving U.S. senators, congresspersons or prominent government officials. But it didn’t stop there. Flynt later offered $1 million for proof of then- presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s tax returns/and or details of his offshore assets, bank accounts and business partnerships. Flynt also kicked off an eight-city tour for his book, “One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History.”
Gay giant Lucas Entertainment launched its porn-based social network, Lucas Community designed for porn fans and its stars as a way to interact, comment, and talk with each other via text and video chat. Also debuted was SexInSuits.com, featuring the studio’s “Gentlemen” line where suited executives show how men in power satisfy their desires.
Adult industry attorney Marc Randazza was busy tracking down copyright infringers including gay studio Corbin Fisher’s $34.8 suit against Oron that resulted in a $550,000 settlement. He also defended radio personality Rush Limbaugh’s verbal attack on women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke saying that although he “despises” Limbaugh, he maintained that to censor him would be intolerable. The attorney was also named as one of Las Vegas’ top lawyers for 2012 by VegasInc, a local business news weekly.
Mansion Productions announced that its MAS Version 2 content management system entered its beta testing phase. The new version was heralded as a true major upgrade over the first version released in 2003 and is fully backwards compatible, inheriting all features and customizations from previous smaller improvements. Webmaster Central also integrated its leased content services with the company’s MAS system.
Acquisitions of Digital Playground and Reality Kings, along with the opening of new Los Angeles headquarters kept the Luxembourg-based Manwin juggernaut rolling in 2012. The company also made a bid for transactional TV company New Frontier that was ultimately grabbed by Hustler. But the giant was also embroiled in cybersquatting suits that included the YouPorn and Tube8 and other variants, and a suit against Nicholas Bulgin, who allegedly registered Manwin.net, Manwin.co, Brazzer.us, ManwinSucks.com and other sites in an effort to make extortion attempts against the company. The conglomerate also launched an antitrust monopoly suit against ICM Registry and ICANN over the .XXX domain. Its online developments included the closing of Brazzers-branded PornstarsPunishment.com, a rough-sex themed adult website, and the launch of Babes.com, the anchor for its new “glamcore” network.
The controversial “County of Los Angeles Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Act” (known as Measure B) requiring porn film performers to wear condoms was passed by voters in November despite strong opposition from the industry and trade groups including the Free Speech Coalition and the No On Government Waste Committee that included ads and numerous rallies. Opponents including the FSC later vowed to challenge the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)-funded bill in the in courts in a “lengthy litigation and implementation process” and sought a seat at the LA County Board of Supervisors table asking that Measure B laws not be enforced until the courts have rendered a decision.
Legendary director Michael Ninn made a comeback of sorts with the long-awaited Adam & Eve release of his final epic, the historical saga, “The Four.” Ninn also launched his flagship membership website MichaelNinn.com (managed by MetArt) that included his entire DVD catalog, described as a celebration of 20 years “exploring the beauty of the female form.”
App developer MiKandi last summer rolled out an HTML5 version of its MiKandi Theater, a one-stop adult video store for mobile consumers featuring content from 15 studios, for use with iSO devices and PCs. It also announced the availability of Private Media Group’s “Private Live Wallpaper: Aletta Ocean” Android app and added Hustler All Stars 1 Gold and Hustler All Stars 1 Premium to its adult app store.
Leading adult hosting provider MojoHost celebrated its 10th anniversary in business at the Phoenix Forum last March.
Veteran performer Mr. Marcus was at the center of the adult industry’s major health concern of 2012 after testing positive for syphilis and altering the results in order to perform. Despite numerous apologies and explanations, the popular 18-year star was chastised for his lapse of good judgment that caused a firestorm of controversy pitting his supporters — including the FSC — against the proponents of adult’s alleged inherent health risks.
NATALIE DEMORE & JACK BANNER
Fetish model and producer Natali Demore and her video editor Jack Banner were found dead last August at Demore’s production studio in Panorama City, California from shotgun wounds. Sources said the pair apparently followed through on a” consensual suicide pact.” Demore was best known for running the all-girl sites BondageOrgasms.com and SmotheredSlave.com and owned a studio with a dungeon since 2006. Banner also produced and directed more than 50 titles since 2000, as well as having worked as a performer and behind the scenes on numerous productions.
Naughty America reached a milestone last October by releasing its 5,000th scene. It was also busy launching a free facial recognition website designed to show users which of the studio’s porn performers look more like them — or the object of their desire — while simultaneously providing links to content featuring the stars. Naughty also launched its newest in-network fantasies, MyFriendsHotGirl.com, MyNaughtyMassage.com, and a new big-boob fetish DVD line called “My Girlfriend’s Busty Friend.”
Online merchant account processor NETbilling Inc. celebrated its 14th anniversary last summer. The California-based company also added two new offshore platforms to its payment gateway — Credorax and Ecorepay — giving it more than two dozen merchant account options available to its clients.
Third-party processor NetCash introduced CashCading, allowing customers who have had their credit cards declined the option of paying with cash at stores worldwide. The company also announced that former Webbilling pro JoeD joined the company as chief marketing officer.
NEW FRONTIER MEDIA
After a tumultuous year that included takeover bids from Manwin, and its largest shareholder Longkloof Ltd, beleaguered transactional TV company New Frontier Media was set to be acquired by LFP Broadcasting in a $33 million deal. The Boulder, Colo.-based company reported declining revenues in 2012 along with devalued stock and was the center of controversy over the suspicious firing of CEO Michel Weiner who had helmed the company since 2004. Weiner in November said he was planning to sue the company for wrongful termination. Meanwhile, shareholders also reelected its board of directors — an election that will likely will be the last for the adult transactional TV service after the LFP deal.
NEW SENSATIONS/DIGITAL SIN
The reigning XBIZ Feature Studio of the Year announced a parody version of the popular mainstream trilogy “The Hunger Games,” debuted its “Romance Series” title, “Love, Marriage, and Other Bad Ideas,” and introduced its new ‘Couples’ series that focuses on “artistically shot,” feature films that address real-life issues couples after the honeymoon is over. The studio’s TheRomanticSeries.com website was also revamped in 2012. Digital Sin tried something provocative with the vignette release of “Innocence of Youth” that tells stories with no dialogue with various themes of dominance, submission and manipulation.
Director and producer Nica Noelle’s Hard Candy line debuted exclusively across AEBN’s VOD network with its first couples-oriented title, “A Mother’s Love.” Noelle and AEBN also announced plans to expand their adult studios with the addition of new transsexual-themed, “TransRomantic Films.” Also in 2012, Noelle inked a deal with Pulse Distribution to distribute Girl Candy Films and Hard Candy Films DVDs.
OrbitalPay debuted its revamped flagship website late in 2011 that promised ease of navigation and to be more user friendly. Last spring, the company signed on as a Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) corporate sponsor.
Defunct file locker website Oron.com was hit with a number of copyright infringement lawsuits in 2012 from companies including DataTech Enterprises (Falcon/Raging Stallion), Corbin Fisher and Flavaworks that included a freeze on its assets and a judgment for $550,000 to be paid to Corbin Fisher.
European affiliate program PartnerCash.com made a move to go “international” in 2012 with a new cash crop of unique and innovative products to promote that began with translating sites — including flagship site Saboom.com — from its substantial portfolio into English. The company also expanded its services by integrating ePayService as an additional payout tool. Last summer, Donna Georgescu was named new sales manager for its international sales team.
Payoneer had its payment processing services added to AdultContent.nl and Webcams.com in 2012. Payoneer also offered a flat fee Payoneer Card service to online dating service Cupid PLC, through a special affiliate promotion. In October, the global payments solutions company launched its EU subsidiary in Gibraltar, a move that is likely to expand its virtual-currency offerings throughout the European continent.
Lat year saw the eight-year legal battle between Perfect 10 and Google come to an end as both sides agreed to have the copyright infringement case dismissed. But Perfect 10 in New York sued Tumblr, the microblogging platform and social networking website, claiming it violated Perfect 10’s copyrights by allowing its staff to upload images to jumpstart the business.
The big news for PIMPROLL was its partnership with porn studios, Lethal Hardcore and Heatwave to launch a new mega-network of websites that included LethalPass.com and HeatwavePass.com, delivering popular niches including teens, MILFs, lesbians, Asians, interracial, big tits and mature. Earlier in the year, the company acquired adult webmaster message board JustBlowMe.com. New launches included a new website building tool, HostedTube and an ebony-sapphic site, LesbianDimes.com.
Always progressive Pink Visual announced the launch of a new intellectual property rights enforcement service, DMCA Force last June. The company also launched piracy suits against HiSlut.com, MyHotBook.com, TheHotLoop.com, Slutload.com, HardSexTube.com and YouJizz.com, as well as PornBanana.com, Shufuni.com and ClipHunter.com. On the content side, the company debuted two new couples friendly series, “It’s Her Fantasy” and “Erotic Minds.”
Playboy moved its corporate headquarters to Los Angeles from its longtime home in Chicago in August and closed its iconic club in Las Vegas last June. The company was also hit with a lawsuit from a Texas patent holding company over image-hosting technology that also includes the LFP Internet Group and Vivid Entertainment Group. Hefner’s empire was forced to shell out $5.25 million to settle a lawsuit over claims that it shortchanged investors in a buyout that took the company private.
PRIVATE MEDIA GROUP
After months of turmoil, Private Media Group crowned Charles Prast President and CEO of the company. The executive formerly held those tiles and was again appointed to the top spot after a long and contentious shareholder and creditor rights battle in which former chief Berth Milton was terminated. Other developments included a five-year digital distro deal with Beate Uhse Licensing BV, one of Europe’s largest producers and owners of adult media.
After a six-year stint at PussyCash/ImLive, Yuval Kijel stepped down from his position as vice president of sales and marketing early in 2012. Kijel was replaced by industry veteran Shay Efron.
First launched in 2000, RealityKings.com and its network of network of sites, Reality Kings TV (RKTV), DVD production and sales, and NastyDollars affiliate program were acquired by adult giant Manwin in September.
Mobile adult ad network Reporo.com cut an exclusive deal with Xhamster.com to purchase its entire mobile inventory in early 2012. Other developments included the rollout of contextual targeting to match advertisers’ ads to relevant sites on its network using specific keywords, and the industry’s first gay mobile ad network. Personnel changes included the hiring of industry veteran Chi Lee to its ranks as its new vice president of North America, and adult veteran Rainey Stricklin was tapped as vice president of its new global gay division.
Payment processor SegPay came out of the box in 2012 with a new brand identity and marketing campaign that included a contemporary logo and stylized “conversation bubble” icon. The move also included a new website and client admin interface. Partnerships for the company included a deal with Paxum, Inc. that allows clients to have their funds instantly transferred to a Paxum e-wallet account, and mobile agreements with Spankmo and app developer MiKandi. In late 2012, SegPay announced that it was offering Mr. Skin daily celebrity content feeds for its clients.
SexEntertain announced the launch of its ContentFlow system that lets webmasters create customized video content sites, microsites, or pages without programming. New launches for the leased content provider included Total Hentai’s “Schoolgirl Fantasies” feed and Asian Kink, Asian Schoolgirls and Authentic Asian Sluts feeds. The company also inked a deal with Homegrown Video to deliver exclusive Homegrown content to web and mobile devices.
A new digital magazine newsstand, SkinMagz.com and its affiliate program, SkinMagzCash.com, debuted in 2012 with a number of traditional print adult magazines including Buttman, the Hustler group of titles, Old Nick, and others.
Smash Pictures jumped on the “Fifty Shades of Grey” bandwagon with a parody of the popular novel — “”Fifty Shades of Grey: a XXX Adaptation” and follow-up “Fifty Shades Darker.” Also announced was its new romance line and that it signed on as a content provider studio for Pink Visual’s PVLocker.com.
Web advertising company TrafficForce.com partnered with HostedTube to sell traffic from webmasters’ tube sites to premium advertisers early in 2012. TrafficForce also launched pop-under advertisements spurred by a growing interest from buyers, and released its mobile advertiser software for webmasters.
Twistys signed its first-ever exclusive performers last July locking in adult stars Taylor Vixen, Emily Addison and Brett Rossi to one-year contracts. Vixen was crowned Twisty’s 2012 Treat of the Year.
Utherverse co-founder Brian Shuster was a guest on a special DirtyOldMen.tv video podcast hosted by Wasteland/Spicecash’s CEO Colin Rowntree and fellow paysite owner Simon Abitbol discussing adult entertainment and web technologies. Shuster launched XPics Publishing in 1996 and watched it grow into an adult internet empire made up of 2 million paying subscribers, 150 employees and contractors, 60,000 webmaster affiliates and more than 600 web sites.
VETTE NATION ARMY
Vicky Vette’s Vette Nation Army (VNA) network was hot in 2012 — literally — after a PR blitz when Miami-based porn stars Sara Jay and Angelina Castro, both partners of Vette’s Army promised and delivered blowjobs to their Twitter followers after the Miami Heat won the NBA championship. Stars Francesca Le, Julia Ann and Nikki Benz also signed on with VNA in 2012.
Video Secrets continued to prosper this year, citing record earnings for affiliates including one customer who spent in excess of $85,000. The company’s success was also highlighted with the announcement of its “Super Voyeur” show for consumers on all live chat sites, including white labels, in the VS network. An upgrade of its white label tool for affiliates that offers more powerful sales tools, flexibility and a sleek and modern look was also introduced. Other news included integration with both Epoch and CCBill to provide approved affiliates with a “one-click” upsell tool, and an updated version of its popular Cam-Reg API for qualified affiliates that allows them to create live chat accounts for their customers without the need for any customer interaction. In March, Video Secrets, expanded its broadcasting department adding four new account representatives.
BDSM website Wasteland.com announced that Wasteland Studios became part of Pornhub’s exclusive Channels within The Pornhub Content Partner Channel Program (CPP). A grand opening for Virtual Wasteland, a 3D live interaction community playground within Red Light Center was also unveiled.
Webbilling.com added Daniela Ganick to its sales team last summer. Ganick represents the company at European industry shows and events.
A host of announcements sprung from Webmaster Central last year including the launch of a new Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) feature that gives customers added control over leased content, a white-labeled amateur ex-girlfriend content offering, the addition of live hardcore sex feeds to its mobile platform, support for Mech Bunny Media’s adult tube script, and an “in-video advertising” marketing tool where clients can now show ads inside videos.
WTS — WEB TRANSACTION SERVICES
Web Transaction Services Inc. announced in early 2012 that Web Tormenta acquired certain service agreements, trademarks and logos from the company. The leading ACH e-Ticket processing solution provider also signed on as a corporate sponsor of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP).
Wicked Pictures debuted the much-ballyhooed Octomom Nadya Suleman’s first solo-masturbation porn film “Octomom: Home Alone” along with a promotional website. It also signed adult star Silvia Saint to an exclusive performing contract.
XBIZ continued to provide the adult industry with a slate of conferences targeted at networking and niche segment success. The 2012 XBIZ EU international digital media conference in London last September featured industry experts, pioneers and innovators in a wide range of fields sharing their valuable insight. South Beach, Florida played host to the XBIZ Summit as the top digital media executives in adult convened last spring for four days of panels and discussion. In November, a record turnout of more than 100 industry and mainstream tech professionals and executives showed up for the Bay Area XBIZ.net Gathering at Kink.com’s Armory Club in San Francisco. Also last fall, the inaugural Free Speech Coalition Summit, a one-day event produced by XBIZ, featured panels covering hot business topics of interest to adult industry professionals.