How Crowdsourced Porn Failed

Zivity, the much-ballyhooed site where you can buy pictures from amateur models, is stripping itself of most assets and employees. Appropriate, in a way, but if amateur moviemaking and journalism can work, why not user-generated porn? Some clues:

Zivity made several big mistakes:

  • No hardcore: Zivity clung to artistic pretensions, screening pictures for "tastefulness," "respect," and "promoting female beauty." Which is morally commendable, but proved disastrous from a business perspective; free tasteful nude pictures are chock a block on the internet; as even Arianna Huffington knows, people only pay for the fetish stuff.
  • Suicide Girls: As Fleshbot noted when Zivity launched (NSFW link), amateur-y SuicideGirls.com already had a large online adult community when Zivity entered the fray. Suicide Girls also had a large user base of people interested in amateur, or at least amateur-looking, porn.
  • It cost money: Really good amateur content has proven it can attract readers; really good professional content can make people pay. Zivity tried to combine amateur content with a $10/month subscription model — before it even had any breakout hits.

One thing you can't blame for Zivity's crumble: Brain-dead, sexually repressed male patriarchy. The site was started by Cyan Banister, a seasoned tech exec and sysadmin — and one of her site's first models (see picture at top). And its early investors included none another than Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley's most prominent gay venture capitalist.

Thiel has said there are "only a handful" of companies "truly innovating" in tech today; perhaps he can show Zivity how to unlock its inhibitions and push the envelope while there's still a little time left for the vastly reduced site.

(Top pic via Fleshbot, NSFW link)