BusinessWeek Profiles Top CEOs of Sex

Feb 14, 2011 6:00 AM PST
CYBERSPACE — Bloomberg's BusinessWeek website last week profiled 21 of the top business people who run adult-oriented companies including CEOs from video, novelty, lingerie, gentlemen's clubs, hotel PPV, pharmaceuticals and online dating.

The report briefly bio'd the top tier honchos who make a living "selling sex" describing them as businesspeople like all others.

"Despite stigma and cultural assumptions about the industry, some leaders on our list also produce Broadway shows, own sports teams, or donate millions to family planning," the report said.

Among the most recognizable to the adult industry were Hustler's Larry Flynt, Evil Angel's John Stagliano, Vivid's Steven Hirsch, Private's Berth Milton, Adam & Eve's Phil Harvey, Mantra Film's (Girls Gone Wild) Joe Francis, Adult Friend Finder's (Penthouse) Marc Bell and Playboy's Scott Flanders.

Also included were leaders from the burgeoning sex toy and novelty sectors including Castle Megastore's Mark Franks and California Exotic Novelties' Susan Colvin among others including Beate Uhse's Serge Van Der Hooft and Gold Group International's David Gold.

Although the report pounded the general downturn in DVD sales in its profiles citing Vivid's and Evil Angel's declines in those areas, it did give kudos to some like Stagliano whom they called one of "porn's poster boys" having been acquitted of obscenity charges. The report said, "After facing more than three decades in prison, he [Stagliano] says the process was affirming and said, 'I believe in my company completely.'"

Mark Frank's Castle Megastores was described as the "Best Buy equivalent of sex stores" because of its large number of stores and employees and its clean, well-lit customer-friendly atmosphere.

Franks said of the old type sex store, "That business model is dying. Nobody wants to go to those areas." He added, "You won't find graphic pictures of women with their breasts hanging out. We don't do anything in our stores that will be offensive to a female customer."

Also profiled were Frederick's of Hollywood's Thomas Lynch, Rick's Cabaret's Eric Langan, New Frontier Media's Michael Weiner, Church & Dwight's (condom and sex toys) James Craigie, VCG Holdings' (gentlemen's clubs) Troy Lowrie, Victoria's Secret's (Limited Brands) Leslie Wexner, LodgeNet Interactive's Scott Petersen, Pfizer's Ian Read (Viagra) and Avid Life Media's ( Noel Biderman.

The report said that according to company projections, Biderman's Avid Life is expected to make a $20 million profit in 2011 with most of the revenue coming from the extra-marital affair site, which the company claims has 8.5 million members.

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