There goes a perfectly entertaining rumor: Adult FriendFinder founder Andrew Conru has written in to deny that he's involved with a woman named Lois, as commenter rumourone had claimed. Amusingly, rumourone had gone to some trouble in constructing the fantasy, picking up factual bits like Conru's interest in fish farming. The part that Conru didn't confirm or deny: That he's planning to leave Adult FriendFinder, now owned by Penthouse, very soon.
Whatever happened to Andrew Conru, the porn baron of Palo Alto? After selling Various Inc., the parent company of X-rated singles site Adult FriendFinder, to Penthouse for $500 million in December, he's getting his personal life in order, commenter rumourone informs us. He's reportedly still working at Various, but planning his departure. (Will Penthouse disclose this fact when it files to go public, largely on the strength of Conru's Web businesses?) Also, he's engaged to a "devout Lutheran" named Lois. Ironic, given his porn profiteering? Hardly. Conru also launched — and sold along with FriendFinder — a religious social network, BigChurch.com, where he supposedly met Lois. Update: Conru has written in to deny the Lois story. The full Conru tale from rumourone follows:
Financier and CEO Marc Bell plans to take Penthouse Media Group public in a $250 million IPO. If investors take the bait, it'll likely be on the strength of Adult FriendFinder and the rest of the Web properties Penthouse bought from Andrew Conru last December for $500 million. After the acquisition, Penthouse projected its 2007 revenues would reach $340 million — most of that from Adult FriendFinder. Some of the proceeds from the IPO, if it succeeds, will go to pay off debt from the acquisition.
Right before Penthouse acquired Andrew Conru's Adult FriendFinder for $500 million, a rumor spread that FriendFinder was making offers itself to buy smaller porn sites. Sources told Adult Entertainment Today AFF made offers on two sites that might not have large profits but "have attracted media attention and large numbers of regular visitors." Will the rollup strategy continue under Penthouse, or bring FriendFinder's nascent buying spree to an end? Let us know if Conru has made you an offer you can't refuse.
Congratulations, Andrew Conru: Danni Ashe is now your coworker. As the porn-magazine business quietly biodegrades in the ashbin of history, the founder of Adult FriendFinder has sold his company, Various Inc., to Penthouse for $500 million. This despite his earlier denials. The price actually seems low, considering Various's projected revenues this year of $340 million. But the porn business has always suffered from a market discount, as distaste thins the ranks of willing investors. FriendFinder's troubles with the Federal Trade Commission, settled one day before the sale was closed last Friday, can't have helped. What's next for Adult FriendFinder's new owner?
"It would be sweet if it were true," demurred porn baron Andrew Conru, when we asked if the Palo Alto porn baron had sold FriendFinder Inc., the parent company of porn-laden classifieds site Adult FriendFinder. Sweet indeed, then. Multiple sources have told us Various was sold on Friday, and one confirms that Penthouse is the buyer. A tipster says that there's an all-hands meeting today at 2 p.m. to inform employees of "exciting times ahead for all." Anyone want to head down to the Cinemark theater in Palo Alto to find out and tell us? After the jump, the email to employees.
Andrew Conru, the porn baron of Palo Alto, is denying rumors that he has sold either his company, Various Inc., or its best-known property, Adult FriendFinder. "We haven't sold anything," he said. "It would be sweet if it were true." Conru has never raised outside money for his site and still owns 90 percent of Various. That means that any sale is really his call. But then there's this. "We're focusing on the growth of the company," Conru said. Here's a tip: Whenever you hear a CEO saying something as anodyne and meaningless like that, expect a sale any minute. TechCrunch now says Penthouse might be the buyer, for $500 million. Heard anything more? Let us know.
Andrew Conru is the accidental porn baron, the mild-mannered geek who found himself running a massive X-rated classifieds website, Adult FriendFinder, from sedate Palo Alto. Rumor has it that he just sold the site, one of his many properties, for $100 million. Michael Arrington reports that he may have sold his company, Various Inc., for $1 billion. A nice headline, but we doubt it. What Conru has said in the past is that he wants to take Various public. The Adult FriendFinder site, however, has been a sticking point for investment bankers, who don't want to try to sell porn to the investing public. For Conru's ambitions, divesting Adult FriendFinder would make perfect sense, since the rest of Various — which includes much more respectable sites like BigChurch — could then IPO to cash in on the social-networking craze.