The Shady, Secret History Of OnlyFans’ Billionaire Owner

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In October 2018, Florida-based internet porn baron Leonid Radvinsky, now 39, bought an estimated 75% of a growing but largely unheard-of business called OnlyFans. At the time, London-based OnlyFans was a fledgling video and social site that allowed adult performers to make money from the comfort of their own homes.

“Content creators” – mostly porn stars — set up accounts via the company’s platform and charge a subscription fee to viewers (whom the company calls “fans”) that ranges from $4.99 to $49.99 a month —and the performers keep 80% of whatever they charge.

With all film production – adult or otherwise – shuttered during the pandemic and millions of lonely people stuck at home, OnlyFans’ business has boomed. In the year through November 2020, OnlyFans posted revenues of $400 million, up 540% over the prior year, 80% of which came from American customers.

The number of creators nearly quintupled to 1.6 million, including more mainstream stars like Cardi B, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, and Rebecca Minkoff. The total number of paying fans rose more than 500% to 82 million. Profits after tax rose to $60 million from $6.6 million. Forbes estimates that Radvinsky’s stake in Fenix International – OnlyFans’ parent company — makes him a new billionaire, worth some $1.8 billion.

Outside of these eye-popping financials, which were published in the U.K., little is known about Radvinsky, who didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment. A representative for OnlyFans also declined to comment. We do know that OnlyFans was founded in 2016 by a British entrepreneur named Timothy Stokely, now 37, alongside his retired banker father, Guy Stokely, and brother Thomas. In U.K. filings, Radvinsky and Guy Stokely are listed as the company’s sole directors. Timothy, Thomas, and Guy Stokely all declined to comment for this story.

What little else is known about Radvinsky is not flattering. Some twenty years ago, before Internet pornography was widely available for free, he ran a small empire of websites that advertised access to “illegal” and “hacked” passwords to porn sites, including ones that were advertised as featuring underage performers. In the late 1990s such link sites were common and were used to market not just pornography but online gambling and other grey market activities.

But Radvinsky was particularly aggressive. Looking through the Wayback Machine’s website archive, Forbes uncovered 11 such sites, all created in the late 1990s and early 2000s by Radvinsky and his Glenview, Illinois-based business, Cybertania. They included Password Universe, which, in 2000, published a link directing web users to a site claiming to offer pedophiles more than 10,000 “illegal pre-teen passwords.”

In 1999, a site called Working Passes had a link for “the hottest underaged hardcore” containing 16-year-olds. Also in 2000, another site, Ultra Passwords, promised a link containing “the best illegal teen passwords” and “the hottest bestiality site on the web.” The legal age for porn actors in the U.S. is 18, while bestiality (the act of having sex with an animal) is illegal in most American states. (The Wayback Machine removed Radvinsky’s old websites from its archive after speaking to Forbes.)

But there’s no evidence that any of Radvinsky’s sites actually linked to child pornography or bestiality. Instead, the sites appear to have been a way for Radvinsky to earn money by charging his partners (actual porn sites) for every click. Forbes, prohibited from accessing such imagery, asked the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a specialist group engaged in the removal of such content on the web, to look at archived webpages containing links advertising underage pornography. According to the IWF, none linked to illegal material.


It was a scummy business, but it was a profitable one. One of Radvinsky’s sites was bringing in revenues of $5,000 a day in 2002, or $1.8 million for the year.


Instead, the links typically went through to similar sites offering more links to free porn passwords or other adult content. In 2002, a year before Radvinsky graduated from Northwestern University, where he majored in economics, his company Cybertania sued domain name registrar and internet backbone provider Verisign, claiming that Verisign transferred one of its websites to someone else.

In that suit, Radvinsky’s company said that it was in partnership with those same sites from which it had claimed to have “hacked” logins: “Cybertania earned a sum of money for each hyperlink connection or password, used from the respective owner and operators of those referral sites,” Cybertania’s lawyers wrote. In another lawsuit against Radvinsky, the plaintiff stated that Ultra Passwords “presents the deceptive image of providing ‘hacked’ (stolen) passwords to get free services from other pornographic sites, but which is in fact a lucrative affiliate referral site.”

It was a scummy business, but it was a profitable one. In the Cybertania suit against Verisign, Radvinsky’s company said its Ultra Passwords site was bringing in revenues of $5,000 a day in 2002, or $1.8 million for the year.

Radvinsky remained elusive during the nearly 20 years between the start of his sex link farm businesses and his purchase of 75% of OnlyFans. In the early 2000s, he created a handful of sites linking to celebrity sex tapes and MyFreeCams, a site that claims to be the world’s number one porn-via-webcam service. He has also occasionally popped up in lawsuits. In 2003 and 2004, Amazon and Microsoft sued Radvinsky in U.S. district court in Seattle for alleged spam campaigns that used the Amazon name and Microsoft email tools to offer spam recipients “free money from the government” or links to adult websites. Radvinsky denied all allegations.

The cases were settled out of court in 2005, and Radvinsky and his businesses were barred from using Amazon’s name in spam or using any of Microsoft’s email tools. His Cybertania business was sued in 2005 by a model, Sheila Lussier, for using her (clothed) image on one of his porn sites, an allegation the company fought. Lussier says she settled for an undisclosed sum.

OnlyFans has run into its own issues with underage performers. Since the site doesn’t independently verify its sex workers’ ages, it’s fairly easy for people to lie. In late May, a BBC investigation revealed that a 14-year-old girl had been able to register an account as a performer on OnlyFans using her grandmother’s passport.

A senior police officer told the BBC that OnlyFans is “[N]ot doing enough to put in place the safeguards that prevent children exploiting the opportunity to generate money, but also for children to be exploited.” In response, OnlyFans issued a statement that it used “state-of-the-art technology” and “human monitoring” to try to prevent under-18s sharing content on the platform and it took the issue “very seriously.”

Signy Arnason, associate executive director of The Canadian Center for Child Protection, says her group often receives notifications about OnlyFans’ models potentially being underage. She describes OnlyFans’ efforts to protect underage performers as “minimal.” OnlyFans has “a moral and ethical responsibility to be doing better here,” she adds.

I’m associate editor for Forbes, covering security, surveillance and privacy. I’m also the editor of The Wiretap newsletter, which has exclusive stories on real-world surveillance and all the biggest cybersecurity stories of the week. It goes out every Monday and you can sign up here: https://www.forbes.com/newsletter/thewiretap

I’ve been breaking news and writing features on these topics for major publications since 2010. As a freelancer, I worked for The Guardian, Vice, Wired and the BBC, amongst many others.

Tip me on Signal / WhatsApp / whatever you like to use at +447782376697. If you use Threema, you can reach me at my ID: S2XY9B9U.

If you want to tip me with something sensitive? Get in contact on Signal or Threema, and we can use OnionShare. It’s a great way to share documents privately. See here: https://onionshare.org/

I am a wealth reporter at Forbes, based in London covering the business of billionaires, philanthropy, investing, tax, technology and lifestyle. I studied at Goldsmiths, University of London and joined from Spear’s Magazine, where I covered everything from the Westminster bubble to world of wealth management, private banking, divorce law, alternative assets, tax, tech and succession. Notable bylines include an investigation into Switzerland’s bi-lateral bonds to the European Union, and a journey through Bhutan – testing the hunger for democracy, and the love for their King. I joined Forbes in May 2019.

Source: The Shady, Secret History Of OnlyFans’ Billionaire Owner

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Critics:

OnlyFans is a content subscription service based in London, England.[3][4] Content creators can earn money from users who subscribe to their content—the “fans”. It allows content creators to receive funding directly from their fans on a monthly basis as well as one-time tips and the pay-per-view (PPV) feature.

The service is popular with and commonly associated with sex workers but it also hosts the work of other content creators, such as physical fitness experts, musicians and other creators who post regularly online.

OnlyFans was launched in 2016 as a platform for performers to provide clips and photos to followers for a monthly subscription fee. The parent company is Fenix International Limited. Two years later, Leonid Radvinsky, owner of MyFreeCams, acquired 75% ownership of Fenix and became its director.

In 2019, OnlyFans introduced an extra safeguard into the account verification process so that a creator now has to provide a selfie headshot with their ID in the image in order to prove that the ID provided belongs to the account holder. The site has over 24 million registered users and claims to have paid out US$725 million to its 450,000 content creators.

After the site was mentioned by Beyoncé in the song “Savage” in April 2020, CEO Tim Stokely claimed OnlyFans was “seeing about 200,000 new users every 24 hours and 7,000 to 8,000 new creators joining every day.” In the same line, Savage also mentioned Demon Time, a social media show, and shortly after the release of that song, OnlyFans announced a partnership with Demon Time to create a monetized virtual night club using the site’s dual-screen live feature.

In January 2020, 20-year-old American Kaylen Ward raised more than US$1 million in contributions to charity during the wild bushfires in Australia. OnlyFans teamed with her for their first partnership for a charitable cause.This started a trend with some OnlyFans creators who have been raising money through their accounts.

As of June 2021, top OnlyFans creators Jem Wolfie, an Australian fitness model, and Mia Malkova, an American pornographic actress, reportedly earn over $7 million per month in subscription income through the platform.

As pornography is allowed on OnlyFans, the website is mainly used by pornographic models, both amateur and professional, but it also has a market with chefs, fitness enthusiasts, and musicians.Users must be at least 18 years old to register, regardless of the content consumed. In March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of OnlyFans content creators increased by 40%, and the number of users on the site increased from 7.5 million to 85 million.

See also

References:

“Donate $10 to Australia, Get a Nude Photo”. The New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2020.

How To Help Your Clients With Website Content Strategy

For small and medium-sized organizations, content is usually the trickiest part of putting together a website. That often results in it being the one thing web designers are left waiting for when trying to finish off a project. Even if the overall design and functionality are a go, a lack of content halts progress.

Over the years, I’ve found myself asking why this is such a challenge. But after seeing it time and again, a few things have become clear.

First, clients are generally not content creators. Most don’t sit there and write on a daily basis. Therefore, they don’t necessarily know what to say. Or, even if they have some talking points, they might struggle in articulating them.

Then there is also the obstacle of time. People who are busy running their business or non-profit may simply have trouble finding a few hours to concentrate on writing. Content strategy takes a back seat to other tasks.

This presents an opportunity for web designers to come in and save the day. With a little help, we can get the processes of creating and organizing content moving in the right direction.

Focus on the Most Important Details

If you’re redesigning or completely rebuilding an existing website, some of the hard work may be done for you. You can look to that content for clues regarding what’s important.

Even if that existing content is messy, it can still be useful. Search out the key selling points and discuss them with your client. Present them as a means to achieve their goals for the project.

Each organization will have their own unique message to share. An eCommerce shop, for example, may want to talk about their attention to detail when it comes to customer service. Meanwhile, a medical practice will want to concentrate on their expert staff and specialties. This type of information can prove vital in content creation.

The goal is to help your client to narrow their focus. Having a better understanding of the task at hand can provide them with confidence. They’ll be better positioned to produce compelling content.

Provide Visual Guidance

Another way to help clients develop a successful content strategy is through visualization. We do this by providing templates or prototypes that outline the various sections of a page.

This offers an immediate form of guidance that your client can reference when writing. They’ll have a better idea as to the desired length of content, along with how to make it easy to digest. It takes a lot of guesswork out of the process.

Of course, they may not exactly stick to the standards you’ve set. But that’s not the point. It’s more about getting them to think in terms of how that content will be seen by users. Even if they’re not initially thrilled with the mockup, you can work together on finding the right balance.

Another side benefit is that this trains clients to take a more consistent approach. In practice, this means that although the content may change from page to page, the format doesn’t. Users won’t be treated to succinct descriptions on the Services page while being expected to read a meandering, 20-paragraph opus on the About Us page.

By providing visual guidance, clients can simply fill in the blanks. It’s more efficient and less stressful.

Promote Common Sense and Ease-of-Use

When it comes to organizing content, things can get out of hand in a hurry. And they often become extreme.

Some clients may insist on cramming a massive amount of information onto a single page. Others could be just the opposite, with secondary pages that contain no more than a sentence or two. Neither of these strategies is likely to be a hit with users.

Thankfully, a little education can go a long way. When discussing content organization, focus on these fundamental questions:

  • How easy is it for users to navigate?
  • Is all the content on a particular page truly relevant?
  • What is the overall point of the content, and, is it obvious to the user?
  • Should a long page be split up into multiple sub-pages?
  • Are we missing any key information?
  • What’s best for SEO?

By asking these questions, you have the opportunity to fill your clients in on the finer points of a user-first approach. The answers should lead everyone in the right direction.

Write It Yourself

There are certain clients who may never become comfortable with writing and organizing content. Or they may just be unlikely to get around to doing the work. This is not only fine, but it’s also an opportunity for web designers.

By offering to write the content yourself, you will take some pressure off your clients – not to mention make some extra money. It could be a win-win situation.

You may find clients who are very happy to delegate this responsibility and pay you for it. In addition, it allows them to act in more of an editorial role. They can review what you’ve done and then collaborate with you to make the content the best it can be.

However, your work will likely be better received if you put in that initial research. As mentioned above, have a discussion about the most important messaging points. This will ensure a smoother process and better end result.

A Proactive Approach to Content Strategy

As with other areas of web design, being proactive with content is often key to a successful project. Keep in mind that your clients are most likely looking to you for some guidance. Therefore, your expertise and leadership may be just what they need to move forward with confidence.

And, just maybe, it means you won’t have to wait around nearly as long for that content to arrive.

By: Eric Karkovack

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