The Porn Monopoly
We are all familiar with how a few companies are massive monopolies over entire industries. For instance, virtually every consumer brand is owned by one of these 9 companies.
But, did you know that it isn’t only consumer brands where one winner has indeed taken it all? Let me introduce you to a company called MindGeek.
MindGeek says it is “A leader in Web Design, IT, Web Development, and SEO”. But deep down, what is it?
MindGeek is a porn company. Not just any porn company — THE porn company. Some of their subsidiaries: Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn, PornMD, PornIQ, Peeperz, GayTube, Tube8, XTube, Babes.com, Brazzers, Digital Playground, Reality Kings, Twistys, Men.com, Mofos, Sextube, MyDirtyHobby, Webcams.com, Playboy’s online and TV operations, and MUCH MORE.
They have a virtual monopoly on online pornography. They have more traffic than Amazon, Facebook, or Twitter, and are likely in the top 3 companies in the world in terms of total bandwidth consumed.
The company was founded in 2004, but their claim to fame was the crash in the porn business that reached its peak in the late 2000s and early 2010s. From 2009 to 2015 they went on a buying spree, buying up every single porn website they could find at dirt cheap prices.
Ironically, this monopoly has created some strangely perverse incentives. Because MindGeek owns both porn aggregator sites as well as porn production sites, actors and actresses that work in MindGeek’s porn production business will regularly see their films hosted illegally on the aggregator sites. Of course, MindGeek doesn’t mind this, as they make money from advertisements anyway, and the actors and actresses obviously suffer.
This perverse incentive structure is in fact blamed for the downfall of the traditional porn industry. Because MindGeek owns everything, and therefore does not bother to try to remove production content from aggregator sites, production porn has continued to tank, while amateur uploads have continued to gain more prominence. Furthermore, no one can speak out about this, because if you piss of MindGeek, you are essentially done working in the industry (since MindGeek owns or has connections to every production company).
As you might imagine, all these shady practices have led to a few legal issues, ranging from tax evasion to antitrust lawsuits. But ultimately, MindGeek doesn’t care that much, because they are raking in billions. Sadly, I couldn’t find an exact figure on their revenues or profits 😟
There are some funny aspects of MindGeek as a result of them trying to put on a “non-porn” image (ala their website). If you look at their GlassDoor reviews, you’ll see people say things like “If you’re interested in the ‘Content Formatter’ job, just be aware you’re basically a glorified child porn screener, and you will be watching disgusting videos all day.” They have a solid 2.9/5 on GlassDoor.
So, just know the next time you choose between YouPorn, RedTube, PornHub, and Brazzers, it’s all the same. MindGeek owns us all.