June 26, 2008

Come Tonight: Girl Geek Party Without The Porn Company

Tonight in SF at Sugar Cafe, 6-9pm.

More info here at Calley Nye's Blog. Food sponsored by She's Geeky!

We're calling it Girl Geek Revolution (okay that's a bit tongue in cheek, but apparently here you have to have a revolution to get a Girl Geek networking event without a porn company as sponsor, speaker or sending their photographers to use their photos for who knows what -- but I'm sure when they stick them on flickr or their own site.. they'll be playing up your girl geek reputation and name to help legitimize their porn company).

Re: Zivity, the porn site. I checked out their site with a friend's login. He told me "...yeah.. it's a porn site by my standards." He went on to say that it's more analogous to Playboy, as in, you can see naked girls, posed in retro pinup style, with just a little twat showing, and while he thinks most men who watch hardcore porn (he characterizes that as video of one or more people actually having sex) will think it's cute porn.. and hopefully catch women they know there so they can tease them into going out with them, especially if they work with them, but they won't really use it because it doesn't have the porn they really want day-to-day, if they use porn, which is more hardcore.

That said, when I looked, I did note that it was basically full of Playboy style porn. Or like my friend's company in Berkeley, who for the past 10 years has done retro porn. That company gets real homemade "porn" from the 50s, 60s and 70s, mostly like Zivity's stuff. And he does well.. it's a beautifully done site, making him around $200k a month for the past several years. Anyone can submit and he approves and styles the pages. He's a designer by trade, so everything looks like the Zivity site.. which is.. very well styled.

However, there is a big difference between my friend's porn site and Zivity's porn site: Zivity lies to me in their tagline, by saying "It's not porn."

Red flags. Sorry.. I just don't like to be lied to.

And, they want it both ways: they want to say, "We're women founded (1 of the 3 founders is a woman), and support women by sharing the money, via our social network for porn but we're not porn!" That's nice.. better than many porn sites do with their "models."

But it's still porn, which is defined as, "Sexually explicit material meant to arouse people" according to the dictionary both online and at my house. It doesn't matter if you style it nicely.. it's still porn.

The other way Zivity wants it is to be not thought of porn, but rather to trade on Girl Geek cred, by sponsoring, speaking at and providing a photographer to the Girl Geek Dinners. They want to be "in the community" of geeks and use our reputations to gain legitimacy at a work event, for their VC funded company. They want to seem like a woman founded company (33% wouldn't even cut the Women 2.0 pitch contest requirements) but Zivity's management is publicly stated as being all male, which is very similar to most porn companies where the men sell the women's images (straight men in porn don't get paid a lot and aren't what sells.. it's the pretty women that get you the cash.. hence Zivity's decision to just post women "models"... men may come later but I'll bet you it's gay men.. whose porn also brings in lots of cash).

But oopps, their founder (and former CEO CMO) Cyan Banister (someone asked me if that was a real name, or a made up porn star name... don't know if it's made up or not.. sorry) took her shirt off at the top of a Techcrunch post. Exposing the lie that it's really a porn site. And using her body to get to the top.

And we are supposed to respect that on a business level, and lend our geek cred to this company that lies to us in their tagline? Don't think so.

Once Zivity decides to be honest, and just state that they are a porn company, and not use the porn to get legitimately geek press or work events to stand next to people and insinuate credibility as a VC funded startup just like everyone else (the porn just makes them different, and not at all appropriate for work), I might like them again. But until that changes.. I don't trust Zivity at all.

Posted by Mary Hodder at June 26, 2008 07:53 AM | TrackBack

As I told you in person in New York, Mary, I am shocked that anyone doesn't understand why a woman wouldn't want a porn company taking her picture at a work event. Long blog post coming from me on this.

The tagline reminds me of what a friend said to me when I reported that I was going to dinner with a jerk but that it wasn't a date. "If it's not a date, you don't have to say that it's not a date." If it's not porn, why does Zivity have to say it right there in the strapline?

Also, what has Zivity got against porn? Rather prudish, really.

Posted by: Jackie Danicki at June 26, 2008 11:12 AM

I understand Zivity has used the "its not porn" tagline in the past, but you mention they lie to you with their tag line on Zivity. Where exactly does it say "it's not porn" on their site at zivity.com? It's not mentioned anywhere I can see (except for a really early blog post that has more of a press announcement feel to it.)

Yes, Cyan Banister is her real name. You should hang out with her some time. She is a real person, and agrees that women should be empowered.

Not sure where you got the "former CEO" title for Cyan. She was never the former CEO. She has always been the CMO, Editor in Chief and Founder.

Thanks for warning us that it is not appropriate for work. Now what is the name of your friends company in Berkeley? Sounds fun... where do I sign up.

Posted by: Joanzy at June 27, 2008 10:44 AM

Hi Joanzy,
Valleywag interviewed Cyan and stated that "it's not porn" is their motto at Zivity. I assume Cyan told them that. Additionally, on Zivity's outside pages, at the top, the page title used to say "Zivity, It's not Porn."

Here is an example of a page cached that said it:

I believe, much like the Girl Geek Dinner site the past two weeks, that both entities have been watching our discussion of this, and while not participating or responding or putting out information, have been quietly editing the pages.

We've caught a few of the edits, but things we saw two weeks ago are now gone.

If Zivity is now no longer saying they aren't porn, that's terrific. Google shows more than 8,500 hits for Zivity + Porn, so clearly many other folks understand it's a porn company as well.

They are a porn company, with social network (not new, another friend in SF has had a porn social network for 7 years).

The CEO title was a mistake.. I meant to say former CMO, as her title now on the about pages is now "editor in chief." I've corrected that.

Cyan was supposed to come by last night, but did not. She's always welcome to comment here, write me a note via the email on this blog, or blog and link back.

Cyan and Angie, the organizer of the BAGGD, could have responded two weeks ago.

What's so odd is that they have put themselves into the ecosystem as social media people, and yet have been totally silent about any of this.

We asked to meet with Angie, and she proposed a time, and then didn't respond to any email or phone txts and we set aside time and rearranged schedules. We then asked for phone calls because two of us were traveling after the proposed meeting and she didn't write back until days had passed, suggesting we talk *after* the BAGGD event.

Again, if information here is incorrect.. this is a conversation. Say something.

Cyan and Angie have been silent, and instead have chosen to just quietly change things in reaction to what we are doing.. a sort of rewriting of history, that is, I guess meant to either cause people like you to wonder how we got information, or, to embarrass us, without actually talking to us.

I'd love to get the correct story. A Zivity blog post, or a comment here or at Calley's blog would be great.

I do understand from Calley that Cyan spent a lot of time emailing her yesterday, and Calley was pretty clear with her that if she had joined the conversation, a lot of this wouldn't have happened. By not talking with us, it meant we had to go on the information we could find online or from folks we could find to ask.

Since you know Cyan, I'd suggest you ask her why she won't engage with us, here, or write a blog post and link to us so we see the link, and then we can converse about the issues.


Posted by: mary hodder at June 27, 2008 11:31 AM