Porn is big business, and the industry has been quick to adapt by copying successful features of new consumer Internet sites. But one thing we haven’t seen until now: respected Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors taking a direct interest in funding or running these sites.
The potential payoff from a successful adult site is clearly too high for Silicon Valley to continue to ignore the space, though. And San Francisco-based Zivity is going to be the first experiment out the door. The founders say Zivity isn’t porn, but that certainly depends on how you define the term. The primary content of the site is naked female models.
The company’s founders include Scott Banister, a co-founder of the recently acquired IronPort, as well as other technology veterans. CEO Jeffrey Wescott led security software architecture and scalability at IronPort, and co-founder Cyan Banister was also an IronPort exec. They’ve raised $1 million in funding, although they aren’t yet disclosing any investors other than Banister. Rumor has it that a number of former paypal execs may have invested.
Like Suicide Girls, Zivity is a social network surrounding pictures of attractive women. Users can log in and join the network and view non-nude photos for free. If they want have the clothes taken off, it costs $10 per month.
Paying users get 5 votes per month to give away to models that they like. And every vote from a user is money in the pocket of the model and photographer – they get 80 cents per vote received. The default split is 60 cents to the model and 20 cents to the photographer, but that can be negotiated by models and photographers who’ve achieved a certain level of status in the system. This is where Zivity differs substantially from Suicide Girls, which pays its models a flat fee for their content.
The company is keeping the look and feel of the site under wraps for now, but did send me the screen shot I’ve included here. They also confirmed this is a Flash interface for viewing the photos, although the site itself is built on Rails.
Zivity is raising a second, larger round of financing now, and will launch later this year. Beta accounts are slowing being given out now.