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The Great OnlyFans exodus

The OnlyFans website on a laptop screen.

Good morning! This Tuesday, OnlyFans banning porn is bad for creators but great for competitors, #AppleToo wants to help create a "healthier workplace" and Biden is talking cybersecurity with Big Tech.

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The Big Story

Move over, OnlyFans

When OnlyFans announced it would be banning porn this fall, server traffic at porn-only competitor JustFor.fans jumped to three times its average — and stayed there. In the last five days, thousands of former OnlyFans sex workers have created new accounts at JustFor.fans.

Even if OnlyFans doesn't want to sell sex, sex definitely still sells.

OnlyFans said that it will ban "sexually explicit conduct" because the move is necessary to maintain its status with payment providers like Visa and Mastercard, which have strict rules for websites that provide pornography.

  • But sex workers and porn provider sites are skeptical that payment-processor demands actually necessitate OnlyFans banning porn.
  • Mastercard's VP of communications told Protocol's Issie Lapowsky that the company only found out about the policy changes through media reports. "It's a decision they came to themselves," he said.

But there might be other reasons why OnlyFans is abandoning porn: VC money and the traditional model of growth for tech companies, neither of which is particularly fond of explicit content.

  • Axios reported that OnlyFans was struggling to find VC investors the same day that the company announced it would be banning sexually explicit conduct.
  • "Everybody just thinks this is a Mastercard or Visa issue, and it's not," Dominic Ford, the founder of JustFor.fans, told me. "There are a whole lot of factors about OnlyFans doing what they are doing, and only a small percentage of it has to do with Mastercard."

OnlyFans has never been good at addressing illegal content, harassment or abuse, creators on the site say. Creators feel that while it was useful for building a reputation, the site was never a safe place.

  • Countless creators have called out the company's policies and behaviors toward sex workers over the last year.
  • "Being someone that was a creator on that platform for a year and a half now, I very much knew that I only existed as a money-making tool for them," said one creator named Jasmine. She shared her sex work on OnlyFans through a high-performing account.
  • "It seems to me that the major stakeholders of OnlyFans have made their money and are happy to get out and sink the ship while they are doing it," Ford said.

Even if JustFor.fans attracts most of OnlyFans' current sex work business, Ford has no plans to ever expand beyond pornography. "I don't know what [OnlyFans'] play was, but our play is to make money in the adult entertainment space, period," Ford said. "Those eyes are wide enough, I don't need wider eyes. If we can replace OnlyFans, who evidently were pulling in something like $150 million a month, trust me, I'll be fine."

— Anna Kramer (email | twitter)

A version of this story appears today on Protocol.com.

A MESSAGE FROM TRELLO

After a year and a half of living and working through a pandemic, it's no surprise that employees are sending out stress signals at record rates. Just as with building a healthier lifestyle, enacting measures of support on the day-to-day level is where lasting change is made.

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People Are Talking

On Protocol | Policy: Until Congress gets its act together, states are going to address tech issues themselves, Georgetown University's April Doss says:

  • "I think we're going to continue to see that trend unless and until Congress is able to really devote some attention and make some progress on [tech issues]."
Airbnb is helping house Afghan refugees, Brian Chesky said, and other companies should do their part too:
  • "We feel a responsibility to step up. I hope this inspires other business leaders to do the same. There's no time to waste."

On Protocol: Coinbase's Surojit Chatterjee is now a bitcoin believer, and he wants to help others to be one, too:

  • "Eventually, you will use your Coinbase account for every financial transaction. We kind of call it 'unbank the banked.'"

Local governments aren't necessarily the targets of a ransomware attack, but they're often caught up in them, says threat analyst Brett Callow:

  • "Most ransomware attacks are spray-and-pay in nature, and those hit are the ones with the weakest systems. Local governments seem to have the weakest systems."

Making Moves

Virgin Orbit is getting ready to go public. Richard Branson's satellite company plans to merge with a SPAC in a deal valued at $3.2 billion.

Samsung is ramping up its R&D investment. The company said it's planning to spend $205 billion on semiconductors, biotech, AI and other sectors over the next three years, to get ready for a post-pandemic future.

The Defense Department tapped Intel to help with a chip-making program called RAMP-C. The company will provide commercial foundry services.

Visa bought the NFT CryptoPunk #7610 for $150,000, a purchase the company hopes will help it learn more about all the hype around NFTs.

Colum Slevin left Oculus for Electronic Arts, where he'll work on addressing online toxicity in gaming. At Oculus, he worked as the media director for AR and VR.

Bobby Morrison is joining Panopto's board. Morrison is Intuit's chief revenue and sales officer.

In Other News

  • Tim Cook, Satya Nadella and Andy Jassy are meeting with President Biden this week. Their topic of conversation: cybersecurity, and how to prevent ransomware and hackers from becoming an even bigger problem in the U.S.
  • Gig workers can't celebrate the Prop. 22 ruling just yet. The trial court still needs to sign a judgment, and after that, gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft can file an appeal, which they both plan to do.
  • Tech against Terrorism added the Afghan Taliban to its list of terrorist groups, which could give some clarity to tech companies grappling with how to address the Taliban. Now, the tech organization will compile Taliban content and tell companies when it shows up on their platforms.
  • Xiaomi is filling the void left by Huawei, and it has Samsung and Apple in its sights. The Beijing-based phone maker's CEO wants the company to eventually become the world's biggest smartphone seller.
  • Cyberattacks don't usually have happy endings, unless the hackers just … give the money back. The crypto platform Poly Network said it's gotten back almost all of the $610 million that was taken in one of the biggest crypto attacks to date.
  • Some Apple employees organized a collective called #AppleToo, which is encouraging current and former workers from across the company to share stories of discrimination and harassment to create a "healthier workplace."
  • On Protocol | Workplace: Nasdaq is shaking up boardrooms. If large tech companies want a listing, they'll need to make sure their board has at least one female member and another who identifies as a historically underrepresented minority.
  • Didi paused a planned launch in the U.K. and continental Europe for at least a year, according to The Telegraph. The company is no longer hiring in Britain, according to the report, and those working on the launches were told they could experience redundancy.

One More Thing

Meet Mina Markham

Some people work at tech companies. Other people work at tech companies, then take on a side hustle — or three or four. Mina Markham is one of the latter: She's an engineer at Slack, but she also teaches for Black Girls Code, co-organized a conference for front-end developers called Front Porch and built Pantsuit, the internal design system of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, among other things.

She's also spoken at a bunch of conferences over the years, including Front-End Design Conference, Midwest.io and Distill, and is prolific on Twitter. A prime example of someone using their tech chops in ways that go far beyond the company they work for.

We'll be featuring tech-industry creators and leaders we think you might like here every Tuesday. If you have folks you think everyone should know about, send them our way!

A MESSAGE FROM TRELLO

"Well, that meeting could have been an email." A recent joint study from Harvard Business School and New York University found that the average number of meetings increased 12.9% during the pandemic. Meetings are the first and fastest way for your company to free up valuable team time.

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