Meet the New King of Porn

Fabian Thylmann – photo courtesy AVN.com

(Monica Foster commentary: I didn’t know Chuy Bravo from Chelsea Lately was a porn media mogul…interesting).

courtesy CNBC.com

Fabian Thylmann isn’t a familiar name to most people outside the adult entertainment industry.

But while the 33-year-old managing partner of Manwin lacks the icon status of Hugh Hefner or the grand showmanship of Larry Flynt, he has quietly become one of the most powerful people in porn over the past two years.

His company, based in Luxembourg (with offices around the globe), owns many of the major online porn sites (like Brazzers and Twisty’s), oversees Playboy’s online and television operations, manages the online operations of Wicked Pictures, and this week signed a deal to buy Digital Playground, one of the industry’s largest filmmakers.

But ask Thylmann, who prefers to avoid the spotlight, about Manwin and he’ll describe it as something much different from a porn empire.

“In essence, Manwin is a tech company,” he said at a rare keynote speech at Internext, an industry-only conference held immediately before The Adult Entertainment Expo. “We’re online and have such big sites that we have to be very, very good at the tech side of this business.”

Some might roll their eyes at such a description, but Thylmann made a strong enough case over a 10-month period in 2010 and 2011 to convince a Wall Street fund (which he declines to name) to agree to a nine-figure loan in April 2011. The money was used to pay down previous acquisition debts and fund new takeovers, such as Digital Playground.

An investment that large, in any company, is worth noting. And Thylmann says that while there are no plans for an IPO at present, it’s something the company has not ruled out.

“Clearly, I’m not going to say no, but I honestly haven’t decided yet,” he said in the speech. “The lenders asked that, because they want to know if I have an exit [strategy]. What I told them is: ‘The money I make today is fine. I don’t need to go public.'”

Besides, he notes, companies that are pure porn plays don’t tend to do well with investors. Before he’d consider an IPO, Manwin would have to diversify.

“I think going public is doable, but it’s very difficult with a pure adult company. It needs to be mixed with something mainstream, and finding that isn’t easy …. There are certainly a few good targets out there, but … there’s nothing planned now,” Thylmann said at the Internext event.

Of course, with Playboy TV among its holdings, Manwin has an inroad to mainstream entertainment companies. And that’s something Thylmann hopes to use to the company’s advantage as streaming media becomes more commonplace in the living room.

“With Playboy TV, we also got … a way to get into the door of Google [GOOG 632.91 4.33 (+0.69%) ], Samsung’s TV group, and Netflix [NFLX 98.54 3.82 (+4.03%) ],” he said. “With Brazzers, when we knock on the door, they tell us to leave, because they’re afraid of the content. They’re not afraid of Playboy, though. At least they can be convinced to talk to us about [airing] it. Later on, I can try to push other content into the mix.”

Article continued on CNBC.com

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