The Two Women Taking On the Porn Monopoly


When Ben Franklin quipped “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”, he overlooked another universal unifier: porn. That everyone from your mailman to Jane in Accounting watches porn is a certainty, and thanks to the proliferation of data in the modern era, we also know for certain that some of its most vocal detractors are typically some of its most voracious consumers. For instance, per PornHub’s analytics arm, residents of Utah –a deeply red state whose governor declared porn a “public health crisis” a few weeks ago- search for “cosplay,” “first time anal,” and “step sister” porn 116%, 74% and 63% more than viewers in other states. And yet, even though porn is as universal a part of the modern human experience as using emojis or getting e.coli from Chipotle, it’s still stigmatized to the point where real problems within porn do not give rise to the same scrutiny and level of discussion that would occur in any other industry.

For instance, very few are aware that the vast majority of streaming sites (think YouPorn, Pornhub, XTube, RedTube and pretty much all the rest of them except for XHamster) are actually owned by one mega-conglomerate called MindGeek which benignly bills itself as a “[leader] in the design, development, marketing, SEO & management of highly trafficked websites.” MindGeek as it exists today really began in 2009 when an earlier iteration of the company had its assets seized by the Secret Service and then sold to German tech investor Fabian Thylman. Fabian rechristened the firm ManWin (we can’t make this shit up) and then proceeded to secure financing to grow the company through the acquisition of multiple tube sites and studios.

…At least until he was extradited for tax evasion in 2012 and replaced by the current CEO who eventually changed the firm name to MindGeek a year later. MindGeek currently operates nearly a hundred sites and ranks among the top three bandwidth consumers in the world- higher than Twitter, Amazon, or Facebook.

Why does this matter? Because any time you have a de-facto monopoly bad shit happens. The tube sites MindGeek was acquiring allowed users to upload anything, including pirated content. As they continued to grow and gain web traffic, they garnered sufficient leverage to persuade even the studios whose pirated content had been uploaded to their tube sites to pay for ad space there. As more consumers gravitated toward “free” porn, studio revenue and thus production quality and compensation for actors was severely crimped. Against this backdrop MindGeek was also able to acquire a number of well-known studios for a song (Digital Playground, Brazzers, Reality Kings, and parts of Playboy to name a few). And yet no antitrust actions are pending against MindGeek and, given the social stigma around porn, most think none are likely for some time. Indeed, even those in the industry who are adversely impacted by the stranglehold of MindGeek are unwilling to speak out for fear of being blacklisted. As adult actress Tasha Reign told ABC, “I kinda have to shoot for [MindGeek] because they own almost everything.”

Not everyone has taken the situation lying down. Adult film star and director Stoya is a vocal public critic of MindGeek, after having experienced first-hand the unsavory and borderline exploitative tactics employed by the firm after it bought out a studio she was contracted to work with. She, along with business partner Kayden Kross, have also put their money where their mouths are and launched a truly innovative adult content website that is effectively the antithesis of MindGeek’s legion of tubes.

Stoya and Kaden

Stoya and Kayden decided to launch Trenchcoat.x in March of last year after months of conversations and a realization that between the two of them they could produce content that was objectively better than what they had seen- they wanted better production values and the liberty to explore more interesting concepts while creating content that was ultimately still really hot. In part, they also wanted to create porn that was interesting for real women- chafing at the way the tube sites tended to present “porn for women” condescendingly as a monolithic category. And something clearly is working- nearly half of Trenchcoat.x’s traffic is female, compared to only 24% on PornHub. 

Trenchcoat.x’s business model was somewhat unique. Rather than requiring a membership like most adult content sites, Stoya and Kayden wanted to curate different series of scenes that were compelling, beautiful and which could be purchased a la carte. They maintain that this model, in addition to being more flexible for the consumer, allows for a greater degree of creative freedom when executing a concept (i.e. some series may merit 3 episodes while others might feature a concept that could continue to be compelling for 20 or more). Currently the site features 22 series, including original content co-created with Brett Rossi, Trenchcoat's first contracted star.

Trenchcoat.x

Also highly unique are the site’s so-called “squick protection” and “squee enhancement” functionalities whereby users can select from among 246 highly-specific tags to categorize as things that either “squick” them (“turn them off” in the parlance of the interwebs) or make them “squee” (the opposite). Tags run the gamut from the names of specific actors to things like feet, pubic hair style, positions, balloons, gimps and even “blatant capitalism.” For videos featuring things they have tagged as “squicks,” users can choose to either have them display automatic warnings, or be hidden from their view entirely. Videos featuring users’ “squees” are automatically highlighted on the site.

Because Stoya and Kayden launched the site independently and without any outside investors, they retain full creative control, which they’ve used to curate a fantastic collection of compelling and diverse content: from the edgy …slightly less plot driven Graphic Depictions series featuring “genderqueer hero” Jiz Lee to our personal favorite, “Screwing Wall Street: The ArrangementFinders IPO.” The next time you’re feeling switched on (say, maybe when your next Unbound box arrives?) you owe it to yourself to check out Trenchcoat.x and their high quality “curated smut”.

In fact, we love the unbound ladies at Trenchcoat.x so much that Unbound will be collaborating with Stoya and Kayden on a special edition Trenchcoat.x box later this year- keep an eye out for it!


1 comment


  • Steve

    Great article, PR!


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