🛑 OnlyFans’ huge change


August 23, 2021

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The Hustle

If Microsoft’s sound effects ever made you feel stressed, turns out you’re not the only one. The company’s latest OS (Windows 11) has new sounds specifically designed to make users calm.

Today’s rundown:

  • OnlyFans: The creator platform will ban sex-related content in October.
  • Red Ventures: This digital media brand did $2B+ last year… mostly by giving advice.
  • Digits: Crazy stats behind hot air balloons, physical coins, and the latest fidget craze.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
censored person

Why is OnlyFans banning sexually explicit content from its platform?

When it comes to the “creator economy,” one of the biggest winners during the pandemic has been OnlyFans.

Users of its platform sold $2.2B worth of premium content to fans in 2020 (i.e., subscriptions, tips, chats), with OnlyFans notching net sales of $375m, per Axios.

There’s 1 huge catch: the majority of its content is sex-related.

A huge business pivot

Last Thursday, OnlyFans shocked the tech world by announcing that it would ban certain sex content starting in October.

Observers joked it was like McDonald’s saying it would stop selling burgers or Starbucks saying it would stop selling coffee.

Why the move? Per CNN, OnlyFans is likely responding to a policy shift from credit card companies that might restrict payments related to sex content. Relatedly, Axios notes that OnlyFans was having problems raising money from investors wary of its R-rated reputation.

There was a potentially much bigger problem

An investigative report from the BBC found that OnlyFans’ content moderation system often misses illegal content (e.g., escort services).

The episode may sound broadly familiar: When Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, was accused of allowing banned content, it ultimately deleted 80% of its videos and enforced a verification system.

What’s next?

OnlyFans is home to 130m fans and 2m creators, many of whom made a living on the platform as the pandemic swept away more traditional jobs.

While the startup says it will still allow certain sex content, it has yet to release clear guidelines.

The crypto community — with key tenets of decentralization and censorship resistance — wants to fill the void: 1 service called OnlyCoins is supporting sex workers with crypto subscriptions.

OnlyTime will tell if this will work.

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SNIPPETS

‘No Stylist’: Stitch Fix saw ~1.5k stylists leave after getting rid of flexible scheduling. #ecommerce-retail

Freezer burn facts: A recent study found 27% of food spend is on wasted food — 1.4% of that waste is frozen food. #clean-energy

Space soil: Japan announced plans to bring back a soil sample from Mars’ moon, Phobos, by 2029. #emerging-tech

Cracking down: China passed a stringent personal data privacy law requiring collected data to have reasonable purpose and user consent. #privacy

Puppy power: Robinhood reported that dogecoin accounted for 62% of the firm’s crypto revenue in Q2. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Hydration goals: Facebook announced a new goal to restore more water than the company consumes by 2030. #big-tech

Good Advice
Red Ventures brands

A smattering of some Red Ventures media brands (Source: Red Ventures)

Red Ventures profits off of giving you advice

If you need a new toaster, check CNET. Wondering what to do in the Maldives? Lonely Planet. Think you have an ulcer? Maybe Healthline can help. And as it turns out, all these sites are owned by the same company.

Recently, The New York Times profiled Red Ventures, a South Carolina-based digital media giant “you’ve never heard of.”

Red Ventures owns several sites that you probably have heard of, and the 1 thing they have in common is that they all provide advice:

  • MyMove (Moving)
  • The Points Guy (Travel/rewards points)
  • Greatist (Fitness)
  • BestColleges (Education)
  • Reviews.com (Consumer reviews)
  • Bankrate (Personal finance)

Red Ventures’ business model…

… is to take readers who are already looking to buy something, inform that purchase, then take a cut — like if you choose 1 of these 5 grills preferred by CNET’s editors.

And does this business model work?

Apparently, yes. Red Ventures has:

  • 4.5k employees across 5 continents
  • A valuation of $11B+
  • Annual revenue of ~$2B
  • ~751m site visits per month

And the biggest commissions? Credit card sign-ups, like those found in The Points Guy, which was part of the company’s $1.4B Bankrate acquisition in 2015.

Oddly enough, CEO Ric Elias decided to expand Red Ventures from a marketing company after surviving the infamous US Airways Flight 1549 that miraculously landed on the Hudson River in 2009 — an experience about which he gave a TED Talk.

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Free Resource

4.2k% return on investment is no fluke

For many businesses, the lowly email still trumps every other shiny marketing tactic.

We’re die-hard fans ourselves. Because, yeah. Shit works.

HubSpot wrote a blog of 2021 email marketing data and best practices. They picked the need-to-know bullets for you.

But if you really want to master the ins and outs of email…

… see HubSpot’s unmatched (and free) email marketing certification course.

The world will keep running on email. Between 60%-74% of every age group already sees it as the most personal means of communication.

Stop missing out on high-quality engagement.

Send it →
By the numbers
Pop It toy

Since 2020, Pop Its have sold 7m units… think about that (Source: WSJ)

Digits: A fidget toy boom, electronic noses, and geofence warrants

1) Pop Its — colorful silicone toys that function like bubble wrap — now resemble the second coming of the fidget spinner, with sales reaching 7m+ units since 2020, up from 700k in 2019.

2) Get a whiff of this: Through 2026, waste management companies will spend $11.8m on smell detection tech; food and beverage companies will spend $10.9m; military and law enforcement will spend $8.1m, up ~100% across all fronts compared to 2020.

3) In 2020, Google received 11.5k+ geofence warrants from law enforcement ordering Google to identify users in a geographic area at a given time. That’s up from 982 in 2018.

4) The coin shortage is back. From January to mid-July, banks deposited 45% fewer coins at Federal Reserve Banks than they did during that period in 2019.

5) Apparently, hot air ballooning was hottest in the ‘70s. Now that lots of OG ballooners are retiring, used balloons are going for $10k-$20k, much lower than the $40k+ price tag for a new balloon.

6) In 2010, the US military, along with geologists, said the ground underneath Afghanistan is full of mineral deposits worth ~$1T. The country also sits on 1 of the largest lithium deposits, critical for battery tech.

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AROUND THE WEB

🐱 Wholesome: A Los Angeles cat rescue sanctuary is equipped with a kitten cam that you can watch from home.

🌲 Wow: For 4 years, activists lived in the trees of a redwood forest in California to halt logging activities. The short documentary “Among Giants” tells their story.

🦉 That’s cool: The Audubon Mural Project draws attention to birds threatened by climate change, depicting 127 species across 90 murals in New York City.

🧩 Cure boredom: Text adventure games have been around for decades. You play by inputting commands to explore and move through the story. Here are a bunch you can play for free.

🤓 The more you know: What’s the difference between a seal and a sea lion? Use this hilarious video to find out and impress people.

🥀 On this day: In 1926, film star Rudolph Valentino died from a ruptured ulcer at just 31. For years, a mysterious woman — and numerous copycats after her — left a red rose at his crypt in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Forever Cemetery on the anniversary of his death.

Tweet of the day
Brendan Keefe tweet

As part of Zuck’s push into the metaverse, Facebook announced a VR-powered work app called Horizon Workrooms.

It is exactly what it sounds like: meetings held in the VR world. In the tweet above, Brendan Keefe captures the Twitter-verse’s response to Zuck’s reveal.

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