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$13 Million Sex.com Domain Is Now a Pinterest for Porn Videos

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HVculture

By HVculture
May 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm



Many of us wondered what Clover Holdings would do with its $13 million acquisition, the domain sex.com, which sold to the mysterious high-bidder in late 2010.

The new Sex.com has finally launched, and it’s great, but nothing revolutionary — a version of popular photo blog platform Pinterest, just with, yep, porn.

It’s a fresh and exciting web model: You like a pic, you “pin” it onto your “board,” you share it with followers and that’s it — you’ve built an identity for yourself based on low-impact, low-engagement aesthetic curation. Sex.com is banking on the idea that our taste in porn says as much about who we are as, say, our affinity for particular office spaces or knitting projects or desserts:

Your favorite videos, pictures and porn stars connect you with those who share the same interests. Our goal is to create a better free porn world by linking people across the world through the porn they love.

Is this wishful thinking, or is Sex.com actually on to something? Do people actually want to share their tastes in sex vids with others? People tend to consume porn shamefully and privately, comforted by the fact that no one can see how high they fly their freak flag. Very few, I imagine, would share screen caps of their incognito browser history on Instagram. When friends actually do share or discuss porn videos, it’s usually because the content is funny, not arousing.

But when you introduce anonymity to the equation, it all changes. On sites such as 4chan, Motherless, Reddit and the former Is Anyone Up (which, it should be said, have attracted their share of user-submitted content that’s on the sketchy side of consent and legal-age laws), users already use threads, galleries and subreddits as porn Pinboards devoted to specific fetishes. Many Redditors have separate usernames for “clean” and “dirty” content. It’s a social paradise, an area where lurkers are free to say, “This turns me on,” and others in the community respond, “I’ll find you some more!”

So the Pornterest model could work. Actually, it does already — Pornterest.com looks a lot like Sex.com. The only difference between the two (besides Pornterest’s unique English-language translation) is Sex.com’s social aspect — and, much more importantly, video.

Sex.com’s streaming-video pinboards could establish the site an identity and popularity that would let it compete with sites such as Pornhub or XTube. It has what seems to be a winning combination of in-demand content and ease of use. The Pinterest-style browsing is addictive and easy on the eyes: You scroll through a never-ending gallery of hi-res images as the page continues to refresh. Browsing for porn is more fun and more rewarding because users have already curated a highly selective list of clips you might enjoy, separated by category and — this is essential — performer.

Another hope for Sex.com is its user-submission section, which functions as a community for amateur cammers to gain and interact with their loyal devotees — and (maybe) make some money, although we have yet to see how this business model will work on Sex.com. Cammers can work independently to potentially bypass the sometimes exploitative mainstream industry. There’s potential here for Sex.com to corner the amateur market.

For many, the porn-watching experience is all about connecting with a certain actor or actress — not simply other fans of his or hers. Which is why the biggest problem with the site is a significant one: The search is busted. You can’t search names. The site treats names like keywords and categories, so “James Deen” will get you actresses whose last name is James, and searching for the actress Tori Black, who is white, will bring up results for African-American porn.

Hopefully they fix this, and hopefully more performer-centered boards will emerge as more people join and use Sex.com. It hasn’t exactly nailed the ideal porn-browsing experience yet, but even with the huge sum of money it must have behind it, it hasn’t totally sold out and gone full Pornhub-ripoff yet. And that’s a good thing.

There’s lots here to be excited about, but only time will tell if the site is novel and seamless enough to catch on. Google+ might tell you that simply being not-Pornhub isn’t enough — you need an identity of your own to really gain a following, and that’s not something that can be bought.
 

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