America's Not Ready For A Porn IPO

Last Updated Jan 14, 2010 1:05 PM EST


Large even among porn companies, Adult FriendFinder announced again that it wants to go public. But before we get too excited, realize that the IPO probably isn't going to succeed. We're not ready for a public hardcore pornographic company.


Adult FriendFinder is a conglomeration of sites dedicated to virtual (pornographic) and real (hook-up) sex. Purchased for $500 million by the Penthouse Media Group a year ago, Adult FriendFinder announced it would go public shortly after, but backed down not long thereafter -- presumably because of both the weak economy and a drop in subscribers. There is also the problem of the $220 million IPO not going towards growth, but paying down Adult FriendFinder's debt. As if the IPO's prospects weren't dubious enough.

The real failure will be in getting investors to support pornography directly, not within a traditionally diverse business portfolio. The only public American company comparable to Adult FriendFinder is Playboy Enterprises, which, despite the "I read it for the articles" jokes, is not known for hardcore entertainment. Granted, Playboy now owns several hardcore properties, but it took the backdoor approach and acquired The Spice Network and other businesses well after it went public.

A successful porn IPO will happen, though it would take a strong brand with less debt and, ideally, a crossover personality to make real. Celebrity Jenna Jameson's Club Jenna would have been the perfect candidate -- but that, by no coincidence, was acquired by Playboy Enterprises itself in 2006.

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