Naked Truth: Penthouse’s Publisher Derives Bulk of Revenue from Social Networking
FriendFinder Networks Inc. – a Florida company whose best-known business is Penthouse magazine but whose bread and butter is social networking – said Tuesday that it aims to raise $50 million in an IPO.
FriendFinder said about 70 percent of its revenue in 2010 came from social networking sites like AdultFriendFinder.com, Amigos.com, AsiaFriendFinder.com, FriendFinder.com, BigChurch.com, SeniorFriendFinder.com, MillionaireMate.com, OutPersonals.com and JewishFriendFinder.com.
In 2010, FriendFinder posted revenue of $346 million.
The company’s stock will start trading Wednesday on Nasdaq under the symbol FFN. FriendFinder is offering 5 million shares at $10 each.
FriendFinder’s social networking sites are geared toward adults. For instance, AdultFriendFinder.com bills itself as “the best place online to find hotties looking for steamy hook-ups.” On the opposite end of the scale, BigChurch.com appeals to relationship-minded Christians. In between is the mainstream (and relatively tame) dating site FriendFinder.com.
“The content on our social networking sites is generated by our users for our users,” FriendFinder said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Our social networking technology platform is extremely scalable and requires limited incremental cost to add additional users or to create new websites catering to additional unique audiences. As a result, we have been able to rapidly create and seamlessly maintain multiple websites tailored to specific categories or genres and designed to cater to targeted audiences with mutual interests.”
While social networking sites like Facebook rely primarily on a free-access, ad-based revenue model, FriendFinder’s social networking sites depend on a subscription-based revenue model. FriendFinder said the ability to produce user-generated content in a cost-effective way is a “significant competitive differentiator.”
FriendFinder’s social networking sites allow members to post their profiles and other content for free; subscribers can access that content for a price. In December, FriendFinder’s sites had more than 196 million unique visitors worldwide. The sites had a monthly average of about 1 million paying subscribers in 2010.
FriendFinder Networks was born as a result of Penthouse Media Group Inc.’s purchase of Various Inc. in December 2007 for about $401 million. The merged entity adopted the FriendFinder Networks name.
FriendFinder Networks owns more than 3,200 domain names.