Porn Technology Is Driving Today’s ‘Sexual Sharing Economy’

Aug 27, 2015 12:02 PM PST

LOS ANGELES — While much is being made of the technological tidal wave that is poised to reshape the adult entertainment industry, one aspect of this evolution is often overlooked — this new stuff is damn expensive to develop, implement and support — and few investors are willing to pony up.

American businesses are under siege by a variety of censorship advocates and ideological zealots, some of which use name and shame campaigns to influence corporate policy; forcing firms to pull advertising, chain stores to stop selling (or cover) magazines, hotels to drop pay-per-view services, and more.

This coercion and other factors is driving a reluctance on the part of the money men to invest in adult.

For example, a recent article by TechCrunch columnist Jon Evans examined a broad range of examples of sex and technology, exploring everything from vibrators to VR porn, and “our collective inability to think about, talk about, and invest in sex in an even halfway enlightened way.”

Evans says that “we live in the midst of a sex-tech Cambrian explosion,” and cites offers including adult apps and games, Indiegogo funded sex toys, Virtual Reality porn and teledildonics such as KIIROO’s Onyx and Pearl set, which he calls “the Altair 8800s of the field.” Add in the examples of German-based Ohlala, known as the “Uber for escorts,” KinkBNB, which provides invite-only access to sex dungeons in 35 cities across 12 countries, and it’s clear that sexual diversity and technology are forever intertwined.

“The interesting thing is that this is largely happening despite the tech industry as we know it, courtesy of crowdsourcing and bootstrapping rather than VC funding,” Evans explains. “[This is] because sexual content is exactly equivalent to porn, as far as the industry (and much of the world) is concerned — so almost nobody who’s not already in the porn industry wants to touch anything even tangentially connected with sex with a hundred-foot pole.”

Evans points to the current “either-porn-or-G-rated dichotomy [that] has carved out a vast excluded middle, an untapped market abandoned by investors,” and how tech companies are avoiding “anything that can possibly [be] construed as ‘sexual content.’”

“The tech industry is cutting-edge in so many ways, but much of it continues to treat the existence of consensual adult sex — or anything even distantly related to it, such as breastfeeding pictures — as some kind of unspeakable shameful secret,” Evans concludes. “It’s bizarre, it’s retrograde, and it’s deeply counterproductive. Imagine how much better the world, and our collective sex lives, could be if and when that finally ceases to be the case.”

Groundbreaking technologies and the new opportunities they present are now unfolding in the adult entertainment space — but some require a level of capitalization that goes beyond any firm’s ability to raise the necessary funds without outside help. Unless mainstream investors can look past the politically correct posturing commonly seen today, the industry will have to look within, and to its fans, for the financing it needs — making carnal crowdsourcing the foundation of today’s sexual sharing economy.

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