An Interview With Gary Kremen


The founder of www.Match.com Gary Kremen, has now revved up the boy meets girl model as the owner of Sex.com. Kremen recently won an award of $65M against the man he claims was squatting on his URL. Regardless, he now has control over the domain and is moving full speed ahead. Although the site is only a directory for other sitesin the adult Internet industry, and not actually a content provider, he does believe that it does serve a need. Kremen is a different kind of sex site owner, you normally don’t find a peddler of pornography — especially digital — with a computer science degree from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford. He had made his original success with the sale of Match.com and other techie adventures. Now he’s looking to legitimize the adult industry and make it an *even more* pleasurable experience.

“We want to own the ethical, moral high ground in this field,” says Kremen of his goal. “Kind of like Vivid Video — from my understanding everyone in their movies wears condoms and no one has tattoos. It’s hard to make money in this business when you have standards, but I think it’s better in the long run. If you’ve ever been to an adult site, you’ve probably found it’s hard to leave it [because of the pop-up windows]. We’re doing the first launching in two weeks which is SuferFriendly — which is a trademark of ours — and we have software that goes out and looks for pop-ups, exit consoles, hidden Java script, and people who change their home page. If we find them to not be SurferFriendly we’ll kick those people out of our directory. Also, we are designing programs to donate money to nonprofit areas, and we’re a member of Adult Websites Against Child Pornography — everything is blocked for SafeSurf — I believe you can be responsible and still make money. That’s not a totally common look and feel of an adult site. A lot of people just say, fuck it, I’m just going to go overseas, which is another model — the data haven model, where you run your business offshore and it’s hard to track you down.”

I imagine that we’re going through the same things as all of the other media mediums went through in their adolescents. How about some examples…. Remember, actually most of you are too young to remember this, but there was a time when actors of the black and white era had to keep one foot on the floor when they had bedroom scenes. How about when the cost of color printing went down enough to have mass distribution of color photo magazines that made it profitable for the porno industry to distribute in print? And the soft porn that first appeared on HBO? And network TV’s awkwardness about what and what should be shown before 9PM? Now seeing racy adult scenes on daytime soaps is common place. Now just about any kid at his house can flip a switch on the satellite dish and find hardcore porn — and what kid doesn’t have a TV in their bedroom? What I’m trying to say is that porn in any of these mediums was not the end of the world. So these concerns too shall pass as the industry matures. We don't need to censor the net as a whole if you bring kids up with good sense.

What I’m curious about is if pornography will transcend into a purely tailored, intimate experience without crossing the lines of actually having to share a physical space with someone. And what single woman who spends half her life in front of the monitor wouldn’t be curious about that? So, will science and intimacy really converge? Kremen, a hardcore bottomline man at heart, says he only looks out as far as he can see a profit and the bandwidth possibilities. He cites one of the business papers he read the morning of our interview announcing that one of the telecom companies was laying off 1,000 people — “with that kind of progress,” he points out, “when will we ever be able to enable people with the bandwidth for live-action streaming audio/video? — Or for that matter, whatever else futurists say our future holds?”

“That’s a question for nanotechnoligists,” says Kremen, “We’re so far from that — what’s known as teledildonics — we can’t even make a paralyzed person walk. We don’t even have the walking down. I’m an investor in a woman’s toy company in San Francisco — I mean, you can get a dildo and hook it up to the Net, but what’s the value added over just having a vibrator? We’re working diligently on these problems, but we’re not there yet. We’ll get it in 50 years. What do we know now? Basically, we know what you want when you come to a sex site. There are two types of customers — men and women — men want an orgasm and they want it in about eight minutes — that’s standard, the websites will tell you that, the 900 phone companies will tell you that. The average view is eight minutes. The sex industry and the military are always the first to use new technology. As that technology grows from investment, we'll see other uses — the teledildonics vision — the bodywear, the wireless connection and the defining of the experience. That’ll happen sometime in the future, but not anytime soon.

“I was hoping that Match would give people love. I think the Match model is where it’s going to be now — a continuum from Match, which is a very woman oriented site, all the way to www.AdultFriendFinder.com — loneliness is a state of mind. Will the Net help? Will finding someone who has your exact fetish help? Maybe. Perhaps. It’s better than a hot stick in the eye. I think www.goto.com is a great model — I want to be the goto for adults. I know what people want and I know what buyers will pay for it. I can tell you more people like seeing animals having sex better than black lesbians — that’s really true. We know all kinds of things about what people want.

“Technology in itself is neutral, it just depends on the attitudes and education of the people using it. I’m going to make my billion in legitimizing the adult field. This — www.Sex.com — gave me a foothold, a platform now I have to take the risk capital of this platform and take it to the next level, but that’s doable — all this stuff is doable.”

Kremen is a very convincing guy — a likeable, fast-talker from Chicago, and very straight-up. He’ll look you straight in the eye and tell you all of this stuff. If anyone can make a billion bucks in the online adult sector, it’ll probably be the tenacious Kremen. Although I have a feeling Kremen will be surprised at the leaps that are made in this industry even in his own lifetime, and especially well before his predicted 50 years passes. After all, this market has and always will be somewhat predictable. There will always be one someone — a lot of someone’s — willing to pay for *it*.