Monday, November 6, 2023

Canadian private equity firm acquires Pornhub owner MindGeek


Canadian private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners (ECP) has acquired MindGeek, the parent company of popular adult website Pornhub. The terms of the deal were not disclosed publicly. ECP chair Rocco Meliambro stated that the firm is focused on identifying properties with the potential to “create attractive returns over a compelling time horizon”. Meliambro added that the adult entertainment industry is being influenced by evolving public views and regulatory approaches, and the time is right to evolve this business.

Pornhub has been the subject of controversy in recent years due to claims that its owners have profited from child sex abuse material, rape videos, revenge porn, and other non-consensual content. In 2020, Mastercard and Visa stopped processing payments for Pornhub after a New York Times op-ed described the site as being “infested with rape videos”. Anti-pornography advocates welcomed the move, but adult performers criticised it.

MindGeek, which was founded in Montreal but is now based in Luxembourg, has faced several lawsuits from women who accused the company of knowingly hosting sexual content involving them without their consent. In 2021, MindGeek settled a lawsuit in California brought by 50 women who alleged they had been victimised by the site. MindGeek has said that it has a zero-tolerance stance towards non-consensual content and is vulnerable to bad actors uploading content just like other online platforms. The company has introduced several measures to address the proliferation of illegal content, including verification for users who upload material to the site.

MindGeek’s chief executive and chief operating officer stepped down last year while remaining shareholders of the company. ECP founding partner Sarah Bain expressed confidence that MindGeek operates “with trust and safety at the forefront of everything they do”. Bain added that ECP will engage with stakeholders, including content creators, governments, and industry to address the misalignment between how MindGeek operates and what the public perceives about this industry and these platforms.

A documentary about Pornhub, Money Shot: The Pornhub Story, debuted this week on Netflix, reviving debate about the website and the regulation of sexual content online.

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