MindGeek

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MindGeek
Privately held
Industry Adult industry
Information Technology
Predecessor Mansef, Manwin
Founded 2004 (2004)[1][2]
Founder Stephane Manos, Ouissam Youssef
Headquarters Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Area served
Worldwide
Products Pornographic films
Services
Owner David Marmorstein Tassillo, Feras Antoon
Number of employees
1000+[3]
Website mindgeek.com

MindGeek is a global IT company active in content delivery, streaming media, and online advertising,[4] the company is a privately held conglomerate which is headquartered in Luxembourg City with offices in Dublin, Hamburg, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, and Nicosia.[3] Its operations are primarily related to Internet pornography, but also include other online properties such as the comedy video website videobash.com and celebrity gossip site celebs.com.[5]

History[edit]

Origins and early history[edit]

In the late 1990s, German-born Fabian Thylmann created NATS (Next-Generation Affiliate Tracking Software), which was used for marketing pornography across different websites.[6] In 2006, Thylmann sold his shares in the company that controlled NATS and used the proceeds to purchase the Privat Amateure website.[7]

Between 2006 and 2010, Thylmann bought three more web sites; MyDirtyHobby, Webcams and Xtube.[5] The domain name manwin.com was first registered in August 2007.[8]

In 2003, Ouissam Youssef and Stephane Manos (who knew each other from Concordia University in Canada), Matt Keezer (who Youssef and Manos had met on the competitive Foosball circuit), Youssef's brother, and another friend they knew from Concordia, started out by creating TGP websites. They went on to start the Jugg Cash affiliate network and the Brazzers website, and the Brazzers enterprise then created many other pay sites, including Mofos.[9] Mansef Productions Inc. was originally incorporated in Canada in 2004,[10] "Mansef" was the holding company for Brazzers.[11]

Matt Keezer started PornHub at the beginning of 2007 within a company that Brazzers were partners in called Interhub.[9]

The Brazzers group added Tube8 and ExtremeTube to the properties they owned near the end of 2007.[12]

Acquisition of Mansef and Webcams

In March 2010, Fabian Thylmann bought the assets of Mansef and Interhub and changed the name of the company to Manwin.[5][13] Thylmann also bought WebCams.com in a separate deal during the same period.[14]

MindGeek

In October 2013, Thylmann sold his stake in Manwin to the senior management of the company,[15] and later in the same month the company's name was changed to Mindgeek.[16]

Timeline of acquisitions, growth and partnerships by Manwin and Mindgeek[edit]

June 2010
Manwin opened Videobash.com.[5]
September 2010
Manwin acquired EuroRevenue, which owned various niche pornography sites.[17]
November 2010
Manwin introduced Celebs.com.[5]
December 2010
Manwin entered into a partnership with Wicked Pictures to manage Wicked Pictures' paysites.[18]
May 2011
Manwin acquired the pornographic video sharing website YouPorn.[19]
June 2011
Manwin bought all adult related assets of Carsed Marketing Incorporated, including Twistys, Twistys Cash Affiliate Program, GayTube, SexTube and TrannyTube.[20]
June 2011
Manwin created 3DXSTAR in a partnership with Funky Monkey Productions.[21]
November 2011
Manwin became an operating partner of Playboy, managing the brand's online and entertainment business Playboy Plus Entertainment, which operates a number of television channels and online services based in the UK and Benelux.[22] Playboy CEO Scott Flanders later described the deal as "the biggest mistake I've made at the company,"[23] saying that "Playboy should not have association with being in the sex-act business."[23] In the spring of 2014, Playboy took back control of Playboy.com "at significant expense",[23] although Mindgeek still retained control of Playboy TV and Playboy Plus, and Mindgeek still owns the Spice TV channels which were also bought from Playboy.[23]
November 2011
Manwin launched Legendary Stats, a service which aggregates multiple affiliate programs and is targeted at affiliate site operators with large traffic volumes.[24]
January 2012
Manwin signed a deal to acquire the assets of the American pornographic movie studio Digital Playground.[25]
April 2012
Manwin and Miami-based RK Netmedia Inc. filed a merger notification jointly authorized by Manwin and Reality Kings with the Austrian Federal Competition Authority.[26] In September 2012, Manwin completed the acquisition.[27] Company documents show that following the deal in the autumn, RK Holdings gave a Dublin company, Manwin Content RK, the right to use thousands of its pornography movies.[28]
June 2012
Manwin Launched Babes.com for its "glamcore" network.[29]
July 2013
Manwin filed a merger notification with the Austrian Competition Authority to acquire RedTube.com.[30] During the summer of 2013, Manwin / Mindgeek acquired all of RedTube properties from Hong Kong-based Bright Imperial Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.[31] The domain name RedTube8.xxx was also transferred to MindGeek in December 2013 in a trademark dispute.[31]
December 2014
MindGeek announced they had signed a deal to manage the online assets of Really Useful Ltd., some of which include the websites BDSM.xxx, Casting.xxx, Czech.xxx, DaneJones.com, FakeAgent.com, FakeTaxi.com, Lesbea.com, MassageRooms.com, Mature.xxx, Mom.xxx, Orgasms.xxx, PublicAgent.com, PublicSex.xxx, Teen.xxx, and Tubes.xxx.[32]
April 2015
Playboy Plus and M7 Group formed a partnership to launch Reality Kings TV in Benelux and Central and Eastern Europe on satellite TV services.[33]
May 2015
Mindgeek signed a distribution deal with Pulse Distribution, one of the largest distributors of adult entertainment, to distribute content from Mindgeek's movie studios, including content from Brazzers and Digital Playground, and DVDs from Babes.com, Men.com, Mofos and Reality Kings.[34]

Adult industry[edit]

In 2013, the adult industry news website XBIZ described MindGeek as "the largest adult entertainment operator globally",[15][35] and a spokesperson from Manwin, who spoke to the Irish Independent newspaper in 2013 stated that they are "one of the top five bandwidth consumption companies in the world".[36] The Internet pornography review site TheBestPorn.com lists 164 pornographic membership sites that are owned or represented by MindGeek.[37]

Pornhub NETWORK[edit]

The "Pornhub NETWORK" is a network of web 2.0 websites accessible through Mindgeek's PornMD search engine.[38] Mindgeek either own or operate all of the websites in the Pornhub NETWORK, which include ExtremeTube,[39] GayTube,[20] KeezMovies,[40] Peeperz,[40] PornIQ (launched by Pornhub),[41] PornMD,[42] Pornhub,[39] RedTube,[39] SpankWire,[39] Thumbzilla, Tube8,[39] XTube,[43] and YouPorn.[39]

The three highest ranking sites in the Pornhub NETWORK are Pornhub, RedTube and YouPorn. In November 2013 it was reported that Pornhub has over 1 billion visitors per month,[44] and a December 2014 article in Adweek states that Pornhub has 50 million daily visitors.[45] Pornhub.com scores at Alexa Global Rank 72 (as of 19 December 2014).[46]

According to TrafficEstimate.com, Redtube.com generates over 90 million visits per month,[47] and YouPorn.com generates almost 80 million visits per month[48] (based on the data for 30 days up to mid November 2014. Data for Pornhub.com was not available from TrafficEstimate). YouPorn claim that their partner program has 400 content providers who participate.[49]

Pornographic movie studios[edit]

MindGeek own the pornographic movie studios Babes.com,[29] Brazzers, Digital Playground, Reality Kings, Twistys,[50] and Men.com,[51][52] they manage the websites of Wicked Pictures,[53] and Really Useful Ltd.,[32] and they established 3DXSTAR in partnership with Funky Monkey Productions.[21] Mindgeek also manage Playboy's online and television operations (although they no longer manage Playboy.com,[23] see history section above).[53] In January 2014 a Mindgeek official stated that they were developing an Android app for Google's Chromecast TV adapter, and another app for Panasonic smart TVs that would enable streaming of Playboy.tv content,[54] however in February 2014 Google revealed their terms of service for software developers producing apps for Chromecast, which stated that "We don’t allow content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material."[55]

Reality pornography[edit]

Mindgeek own the Reality pornography (commercial pornography that emulates Amateur pornography) video websites Mofos,[42] MyDirtyHobby,[42] Sextube,[20] and Webcams.[42]

Pornography for mobile devices[edit]

MindGeek's mobile pornography websites handle millions of visits each day in North America,[56][57] they were awarded the "Future Mobile Award for Mobile Adult Services" by Juniper Research in 2012.[58][59][60]

Criticism[edit]

It has been reported that MindGeek's dominance in online pornography may have negative results because of the monopolistic powers they have from owning both production and distribution avenues.[61]

Global Alexa ranks[edit]

Alexa rank[62]
(16 June 2015)
Domain
69 pornhub.com
145 redtube.com
158 youporn.com
205 doublepimp.com
333 tube8.com
1044 xtube.com
1156 spankwire.com
1421 keezmovies.com
1677 pornmd.com
1698 brazzers.com
2815 extremetube.com
2987 realitykings.com
3154 ebocornac.com
5733 thumbzilla.com
5823 digitalplayground.com
5827 gaytube.com
8282 men.com
8735 mofos.com
9329 mydirtyhobby.com
12459 twistys.com
12767 babes.com
33990 sextube.com
80469 webcams.com
93819 peeperz.com
94018 porniq.com
459414 e-n-t-e-r-n-e-x.com

Advertising[edit]

Mindgeek host advertisements on their sites using their TrafficJunky ad network, which receives billions of ad impressions on a daily basis.[63]

Pornhub (which is owned by Mindgeek) have conducted several of their own advertising campaigns, including a billboard in Times Square, product placement in the film Don Jon, and a tree planting campaign.[45][64] According to the vice president of Pornhub, Corey Price (who commented in December 2014), Pornhub want to make watching porn "something that's acceptable to talk about",[45] which would be likely to benefit Pornhub, since according to Price "it's still taboo [to advertise on X-rated sites like Pornhub]".[45] In October 2013, the media and marketing publication Digiday reported that Pornhub has already shown advertisements for various mainstream products on the Pornhub web site, including advertisements for movies, musical acts, anti-virus software, and a food delivery service, although most advertisements were still adult-related.[65]

Malvertising[edit]

It was reported in April 2013 that visitors to some of the world's most popular (by Alexa rank) pornography sites risked malware being installed on their machines by malicious third party advertisements.[66][67] The claims were made by security researcher[68] Conrad Longmore, who writes a blog on malware, spam and scams.[69] Longmore's figures were collected using Google Safe Browsing Diagnostics,[70] which looks for harmful content on websites, and the statistics for two sites; xHamster and Pornhub were published by BBC News.[66] The BBC article stated that based on Longmore's research, 5% of pages on xHamster (which has never been owned by Mindgeek / Manwin), and 12.7% of pages on Pornhub incorporated malvertising.[66] MindGeek (still known as Manwin at the time) said in a statement that their own figures showed that 0.003% of the advertisements they served over the period that Longmore's data was collected contained malware, and they said that the advertisements they serve are monitored for malware and malware is immediately removed.[66]

In July 2013, Manwin announced that they had come to an agreement with the online security provider RiskIQ to scan third party advertisements hosted on their TrafficJunky ad network for malware before they go live, and to continue to monitor ads for malware once they are live.[63]

Pop-up ad serving[edit]

The domain name ebocornac.com is used for inline JavaScript-based pop-up ads that open in MindGeek's Pornhub NETWORK sites that perform URL redirection to doublepimp.com, which then continues to redirect the user to the target ad site.[citation needed] The Ad blocking software uBlock can be used to disable inline scripts (<script type="text/javascript">), but this also disables the videos on these sites as they require other inline scripts from the same page. This means users cannot block ads using this method if they also want to watch the videos. The Alexa pages for ebocornac.com,[71] e-n-t-e-r-n-e-x.com,[72] and doublepimp.com[73] list Pornhub NETWORK sites under "Upstream Sites" which gives the impression that these domain names are dedicated to online advertising for MindGeek. Neither Adblock Plus, uBlock, or NoScript, can block these pop-ups without disabling video viewing.

Age controls and child protection[edit]

ASACP[edit]

Mindgeek has been a Platinum Sponsor of ASACP (Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection) since 2011.[74] ASACP is an American non-profit organization that fights against child pornography and aims to enhance the effectiveness of parental content filtering technology through the provision of the RTA ("Restricted to Adults") label, which can be implemented by webmasters of adult sites.[75]

Age verification in the UK[edit]

In May 2015, Mindgeek joined talks with the Digital Policy Alliance[76] in light of a pledge by the Conservative Party (which won the 2015 general election in the UK) to obligate UK internet service providers to block access to hardcore pornographic websites that do not implement age restrictions by using verifiable age checks.[77]

The Digital Policy Alliance is funded by digital technology companies, and informs members of parliament in the UK and the EU on policy issues that affect online and digital technologies.[78] The DPA has a working group to create age verification methods that can be used to comply with the expected new laws.[79][80]

When the change in law was first asked for by the UK video-on-demand co-regulator ATVOD in March 2014, Mindgeek said in a statement to the BBC: "The best solution lies in a multi-layered approach in which the parent assumes the central role."[81]

Antitrust lawsuit against ICM and ICANN[edit]

Manwin Licensing and Digital Playground filed an antitrust lawsuit in California in November 2011 against ICANN and ICM Registry over the introduction of the .xxx TLD.[82] Amongst their allegations, Manwin claimed that in introducing the new suffix, ICANN and ICM registry had exploited the market by making domain registrations expensive with no price caps in place, and created a need for defensive domain registrations with no provision for companies to block typos of their trademarks. Manwin announced that it would not allow its content to be used on any sites with the suffix, with Fabian Thylmann, who was then managing partner of Manwin saying: "We oppose the .XXX domain and all it stands for. It is my opinion that .XXX domain is an anticompetitive business practice that works a disservice to all companies that do business on the Internet."[83]

In September 2012 ICM filed a counterclaim for $120 Million against Manwin Licensing International. Part of the 24 page long claim alleged: "Manwin, Digital Playground, and their related companies, affiliates, brands, and certain third party affiliates have conspired to boycott the .XXX TLD and have coerced and/or encouraged the boycott of .XXX websites by third parties."[84]

All of ICM's counterclaims were dismissed in the second half of February 2013. The judge in the case stated: "Harm to ICM only is not sufficient to constitute antitrust injury. It must allege harm to the competitive process."[85]

In May 2013 Manwin agreed to settle the antitrust lawsuit it brought against ICM Registry over the cost of .xxx web domain names. The settlement will result in discounted wholesale prices of $7.85 a year for .xxx names during May 2013, and similar offers the future.[86] ICM Registry is owned by British former fax-machine mogul Stuart Lawley. The settlement provides that ICM will not pay any money directly to MindGeek.

Patent lawsuits[edit]

In May 2013, ExitExchange Corp. sued Manwin USA Inc. in Texas, alleging that its patent for pop-under advertisements had been infringed by Tube8.com and Pornhub.com.[87]

In July 2013, Manwin was sued by the operators of Skky Inc.; John Mikkelson and Robert Freidson in Minneapolis over the alleged infringement of a patent which describes a method for delivering compressed audio and images on mobile devices.[88]

In October 2014, MindGeek USA Inc. was sued by Preservation Technologies LLC in Delaware for alleged infringement on 19 different sites operated by Mindgeek of 11 patent components on data distribution and communication systems, such as a system for cataloging and retrieving videos and other media associated with keywords.[89] The case was withdrawn in March 2015 after Mindgeek came to a settlement deal with Preservation Technologies LLC.[90]

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