Zivity is definitely one of the most controversial startups of 2007. It’s the first (as far as we know) adult site to have received Silicon Valley backing, including an announced $1 million angel round. And they certainly livened things up at the TechCrunch40 conference a few months ago. They went last, and their demo contained enough nudity to make much of the crowd shift uneasily in their chairs.
But that isn’t the end of the controversy. The site, which we first covered in August, allows models to upload photos to the site and gain followers. As people vote for models, real dollars flow to the model and photographers who were involved in the shoot. And one of those models is co-founder Cyan Banister. She’s uploaded one set of photos for the beta period, without nudity. Next week, she says she’ll add another set that includes topless photos, and may go completely nude in the future.
Banister says that a few years ago she would not have even considered taking her clothes off for a camera. But she isn’t new to getting attention for her looks. In 2000, when she was just 22, she won the “Sexiest Geek Alive” award. When starting Zivity, though, she knew she had to, as she puts it, “eat her own dog food.” For most founders that just means actually using their own product. But for Cyan, it also means taking off her clothes and modeling for Zivity.
So how popular is she with users? The beta has just 500 users so far. Cyan has gathered 25 votes, putting her on the leaderboard of the most popular models. But she’s still well behind the no. 1 model, “Pearl,” who has 117 votes.
Expect more news on Zivity in the next several weeks. They are expanding their beta users (this will be a popular one for our readers), and will soon let in more of the 20,000 people who have signed up to get a look at the site.
Lots of founders say they’re willing to eat their own dog food to support their startup. But how many will shed their clothes?
Zivity was also one of the 100 startups nominated for the Crunchies Startup Awards in January.