June 13, 2001 11:12pm
German ISP to Launch Porn Website
(HAMBURG, Germany) -- Germany's third largest Internet service provider, Freenet.de AG [http://freenet-ag.de], has made the bold move of teaming up with one of Germany's largest erotica distributors to create an Internet sex portal, in an attempt to give its bottom line a lift. The Web site will be called Fundorado and will include areas that can be accessed only by subscribers who pay fixed monthly fees.
One of the few profitable enterprises on the Web is sexual content. But few mainstream Internet companies (even in Europe) are willing to risk peddling sex. Internet giant Yahoo [http://Yahoo.com], groping for a ways to bolster revenue, announced in April that it would sell sex-related videos. But a public outcry resulted and Yahoo quickly reversed course.
Eckhard Spoerr, CEO of Hamburg-based Freenet.de, did not appear worried today when making the announcement about Fundorado. Instead, he sounded like a man preparing to count money. "We will revolutionize the Internet erotica market with Fundorado," he said. "Our innovative concept will allow us to take the lead in this extremely high-turnover market very soon."
Freenet.de says the Web site [http://www.fundorado.de] will have a high level of technical performance and quality content, such as videos, chat, forums, Web cams and a number of other interactive services.
Freenet.de [http://www.freenet.de] has two partners in the venture: Orion Holding International GmbH [http://www.orion-holding.com] and the Audiofon GmbH [http://www.Audiofon.de]. The three companies will hold equal stakes in Fundorado GmbH, the name of the company, which will operate the Web site [http://www.fundorado.de].
Orion, one of Germany's biggest erotica distributors, will contribute erotic content, "high-quality products" and a logistics system to the venture, Freenet.de said. Audiofon, an added-value service provider in the telephony sector, will handle the Web cam and live-show technology, while Freenet.de will be responsible for the portal's technical components and Internet skills.
Elke Ruether, spokeswoman for Freenet.de, told Newsbytes that the potential audience for Fundorado is enormous. A recent study indicates that 33.4 percent of German Internet users regularly visit sex and erotica Web sites. Furthermore, Fundorado will have direct access to Orion's 3.5 million addresses and Freenet.de's approximately 3 million members.
The site is scheduled to go live in the third quarter, she said, but added that many details, including subscription prices, have yet to be worked out.
She said that Freenet.de's desire to reach break-even in 2002 was a prime factor in the decision to enter the pornography business.
She conceded that some people would most likely criticize Freenet.de for dealing in sexual content.
"There are always people who do not like some things you do," she said, but added pointedly that people opposed to erotica will not be forced to surf Fundorado.
"The site will be done in a very professional way," she said. "You will not find child pornography or things like that. I can tell you that we will not have ugly stuff on the site. It will be very high quality."
Shares of the company, which trade on Frankfurt's high-tech specked Neuer Markt [http://www.neuermarkt.com], closed today at 16.45 euros, down from the 52-week high of 120.00 euros the all-time high of just over 250.00 euros, shortly after the company's IPO blasted off in late 1999. - Ned Stafford, Special to Newsbytes