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Is OnlyFans a porn site?

What do you know of OnlyFans? Have a read about the economics of OnlyFans and why it's definitely a porn site.Is OnlyFans a porn site?

What do you know of OnlyFans?

  • It’s one the most successful European tech companies, founded and based in London with no plans to move to Silicon Valley.
  • It’s a very private company with no plans to go public. 75% is owned by porn-billionaire Leonid Radvinsky (more on him later), with the rest owned by founder Tim Stokely, his father Guy and brother Thomas.
  • Founded in 2016, it has gone through spectacular growth since the pandemic. With almost 239m “fans” in 2022, it has tripled since 2020 and 18x since 2019.
  • It’s also doing very well financially, generating $5.55bn gross revenue in 2022, of which it takes a 20% cut. Revenue before taxes in 2022 was $525m, up 22% YoY and almost 9x vs 2020. Its owner reportedly took home dividends of $338m in 2023, the equivalent of $1.3m per working day. No wonder they don’t want to go public!
  • OnlyFans is trying to diversify from its core adult-content business by branching into non-adult streaming with OnlyFansTV and recruiting more non-adult celebrities.
  • The new CEO, Keily Blair, is a former lawyer specializing in cyber and data privacy. She has 15+ years of experience working with renowned law firms in London. Fan fact, she was recently denied the ability to open a bank account due to her association with the company.
  • She doesn’t like the word “porn”.
    In a recent interview with the Financial Times, she clarified that while OnlyFans is "open" to adult content, it doesn't necessarily represent its main offering. However, she explained they do not report on content category, hence they cannot determine the proportion of creators who do not produce any adult content. "Creators' performance is not an important metric."
    It's hard to believe, given that their entire business model relies on commissions from creators' revenue!
  • In the same interview, she states that they encourage all employees, including herself, to open an OnlyFans account and follow creators. She particularly likes Becky Goodwin and Whitney Cummings. This seems to be part of an effort to normalise the use of OnlyFans.
  • She also emphasises the strength of their monetisation strategy, which increasingly focuses on micro-transactions such as tips and "unlock content", rather than recurring subscriptions. This approach gives users more financial control. She notes that she herself has many subscriptions, for which she "probably watches three shows and yet still pays for the entire membership".

My take

OnlyFans is clearly a porn website.

Even the other categories available on the site, including OnlyFansTV, often serve just as a funnel to more expensive adult content.

The founder, Tim Stokely, was named "The king of homemade porn" by the Sunday Times, a reference to his other porn ventures like Customs4U. The current primary owner, Leonid Radvinsky, has a shady history with dubious adult websites dating back to the late 90s and early 2000s. Do you recall the endless chain of spammy links that ultimately led to porn sites? That was him. In fact, when he invested in OnlyFans in 2018, he pushed for a greater focus on adult content.

The monetisation model is highly profitable, but it is also evil.

Actress Bella Thorne earned $1m on her first day after signing up by promising to send nudes to her fans for $200. However, she ended up sending a photo in lingerie instead of “nudes”.

Many creators follow a similar strategy, enticing users with the promise of increasingly provocative content that often never materialises. It's a vicious cycle reminiscent of gambling, where people keep playing in the hope of winning big and recouping their losses, an outcome that almost never occurs.

OnlyFans is growing up, from a 90s-style scammy site to an adult big tech that drains its users, not of their personal data but directly of their money.

Not sure what is worse.

Slide showing the text "is OnlyFans a porn site?"
Timothy Stokely, founder of OnlyFans, poses with 5 young girls
Tim Stokely, founder of OnlyFans, was named "king of homemade porn" by The Sunday Times.

The chart shows the huge user growth experienced by OnlyFans in the last couple of years
The chart shows the number of content creators working on Onlyfans, around 3m in 2022
The chart shows OnlyFans profit before taxes for every year from 2019 to 2022. It made round 525m in 2022
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