Business Week Covers Lawley & ICM, Operator of .XXX & Applicant For .Sex & .Porn: “The New Republic of Porn”

Business Week just published a cover story (In the hard print editions) on the ICM registry operator of .XXX and the applicant for the new gTLD’s or .Porn, .Sex, .Adult and its CEO Mr. Stuart Lawley.

The story is entitled “The New Republic of Porn”.

Its a long piece spanning over 6 pages and its goes into great depths about not only ICM’s struggle to get the .XXX extension, the lawsuit with Manwin,  its future plans for .XXX and the new gTLD’s it applied for .Sex, .Porn and .Adult, but also Mr. Lawley shares a surprising amount of personal information all starting out with:

That Mr Lawley just bought a “one-story, five-bedroom, 9,300 square-foot stone house in the Bear’s Club”

“Stuart Lawley navigates  Drive in his midnight sapphire Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé, a $464,000, 3-ton, 12-cylinder land yacht so well-engineered that ensconced in its butter-soft leather, one barely senses motion at all. Lawley docks gently at a French-style château adjacent to the 15th fairway of a luxuriant tropical Florida golf course designed by “the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus.

“Celine Dion owns a place nearby.”

“Michael Jordan is building on two lots just around the bend.”

“He offered $3.8 million, all cash, take it or leave it. She took it.”

“There’s a catch, however: In early June, the homeowners’ association delayed the closing because some members were uneasy about Lawley’s occupation. “The neighbors are worried that a ‘big-time pornographer’ is moving in,” Lawley says. “Bollocks!”

Here are some interesting points from the story:

“With more than 220,000 sites signed up so far, Lawley now presides, in his view, over a clean, well-lighted virtual mall. Site owners pay $60 a year for a typical .xxx domain, compared with less than $10 for a .com. ICM Registry auctioned “premium” names for much more. The aforementioned shemales.xxx went for $200,000; fetish.xxx, for $300,000; gay.xxx, for $500,000. In the last three months of 2011, its first active quarter, the tiny company took in $25 million.”

“About 83,000 .xxx registrations, or about a third, he allows, are “defensive”

We didn’t know whether, if we built it, people would come,” Lawley concedes.

“He need not have worried. Last October, Corbin Fisher, a major gay studio in Las Vegas, said it would pay $500,000 for gay.xxx (the site is still under construction). In December, Clips4Sale, a downloadable video site, announced a $700,000 all-cash deal for a package of 30 premium names. Those big chunks of cash go to ICM. “We won,” says Lawley.

“The next step in the development of .xxx, the “real game-changer,” as Lawley calls it, will be the micropayment system he plans to introduce in early 2013. To finance the system, he says he is negotiating with a “major name-brand” bank, which he won’t yet identify. “Online porn is suffering the way the music business suffered with Napster and file-sharing,” Lawley says. “If there were a totally reliable way to buy small bits of high-quality adult content, the way you can download a single song from iTunes, people would go back to paying for it, the way they went back to paying for music.” He sees a winning combination in 99¢ porn via mobile technology. “As Apple’s app store bans adult,” he says, “there is a huge market for adult apps” developed independently for .xxx sites. Lawley says designers are already at work.”

“It’s remarkable that Lawley is making any money at all. Especially since he had to fight for seven years, spending millions of his own dollars, to get permission for .xxx from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit regulatory body.

“His persistence in the face of hostile lobbying by competitors, religious conservatives, and the U.S. government suggests that if the stubborn British entrepreneur claims to have a money-spinning solution for the Great Porn Depression, he should not be underestimated.”

Its a very interesting profile of the company and its CEO and you can read it all clicking here

 

Comments

  1. Eric says

    No domainer will want to buy any of these new adult domain extensions. I’ve had some great adult domains ending in .xxx but have tried to develop them. It turns out that all adult content providers I contacted want nothing to do with the .xxx domain extension. Therefore, unless you create your own adult content, any adult domain extension is useless therefore holds no value. I couldn’t even resell them for $1. Nobody wants them.

  2. Jp says

    Thus reinforcing that new tlds will be successful. Just not great investments for domainers, at least not short term. The registries will be successful (and their owners).

    His tld might not be “domainer awesome” and domainers laugh, “haha only 200k domains some domainers own more domains than that.”

    The domainer that owns 200k domains is sitting on 200k domains worth of annual renewal expenses.

    This guy is sitting on 200k domains worth of annual renewal income, or $25M. Call it what you want.

    None of the new tlds really strike me as “good” as in I gotta have a domain in that extension. But I wish I owned one of the registrys for almost any of them. Just gotta sell like not even 100k domains for reg fee and you are set. How big is consumer base (the worlds population)? Can’t be that hard to do. Didn’t we just read that .mobi sold 1M domains?

    I still don’t get .vodka though. How can you sell 10k of those let alone 100k of those.

  3. PK says

    He’s wrong about people “paying for porn again”.

    itunes is suffering an exodus of users to just streaming songs for free. They don’t want to “own” music anymore.

    The same with porn. As long as there is redtube.com and the like, forget it, unless they can come up with better quality, but that takes money, etc…. which brings us back to square one.

    .xxx will be a failure, IMO.

  4. Jp says

    @pk

    .xxx took in $25M for the last 3 months of 2011. How is that a failure?

    So renewals every year should be at least $25M in revenue.

    How much could their costs possibly be?

    I wouldn’t mind failing if it meant I only made a measly $25M a year. Yea that does suck.

  5. BrianWick says

    Suppose .XXX fails after 3-5 years – i.e. no one renews their domains because they are getting blocked by more and more servers and quality content providers ultimately do not buy in.

    Well – in the unlikely afformentioned failed business model – the business still walks with probably a 15x-20x of initial investment – even after all the legal fees – very sad – very sad – very sad – how many “failed” business models make out like bandits ?

  6. Jp says

    @the anonymous poster replying to me:

    I still think that we should be charging google to index our sites. Turn the tables. Why should they get it for free?

  7. Steve M says

    Sorry Stuart.

    Those many millions with severe medical problems and health conditions suffer.

    Those many millions who are homeless suffer.

    Those many millions who go to bed hungry night after night suffer.

    Pornography doesn’t suffer.

  8. Archiba says

    Jp, the .vodka is going to resolve in your browser in the future all by itself. It is three letters and one syllable shorter than vodka.com.

  9. Paul says

    @ Eric

    I don’t buy that Eric. I’ll do some checking around and get back to you within a week. Adult content providers could care less what your extension is. You give them money, they give you content. That’s how it works. But I’ll come back with specific names. Perhaps you can list some of the content providers you claim won’t work with you. Specifics would help validate your claims.

    As for the .XXX domains you claim you can’t sell for $1, I don’t buy that either. Tell me what you’ve got. I’ll consider buying them from you. Seriously, this just sounds like more .XXX bashing. Then again, maybe you chose lousy domain names. As I look through some of the .XXX domains on reseller sites, I have to wonder what some people were thinking. A lousy domain is a lousy domain, regardless of the extension. I’m not saying your domains are bad. I don’t know what they are. But some folks appear to have bought indiscriminately.

  10. Paul says

    @ Eric

    Well, it didn’t take a week. I received email replies from Adult Maestro, Adult Labs and Paul Markham. Which are all adult content providers. Mr. Markham actually wrote, “No worries about .xxx domains. All the same to me.” Exactly how I suggested adult content providers would feel.

    This is what I mean about a conspiracy/campaign against .XXX. Clearly Eric, you are not telling the truth. This is my issue with some of those speaking out against .XXX. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there is a BIG difference betweeen stating an opinion and slandering ICM Registry and the .XXX domain.

    Some folks, like yourself, have leveled claims against .XXX that simply are not true. While some claims, like yours, are easy for anyone to disprove, others are more difficult because most readers don’t have a copy of the terms of service, etc.. So when they read someone’s claims about what’s buried in the fine print, they have no way of disproving it. In other words, simply by making such claims, the damage to ICM Registry and .XXX is done.

    Who would be motivated to do such a thing? Who would be motivated to go around the internet blatantly spreading lies about .XXX? Someone with something to gain. Perhaps someone who works for a competitor. Perhaps someone who owns .COMs and doesn’t want to see any other extension succeed. And so on.

    The point is, no matter who is doing it, it’s not right and I don’t intend to stand for it.

  11. Jj says

    Exactly, the “adult community” being against .xxx is a complete LIE, created by the top ‘porn tube’ providers in the industry (the ones who are suing ICM Registry). They don’t care about the “adult community” anyway. It’s well known that porn tube sites killed off most of the adult industry.

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