Sex Tech

Is There a Double Standard for Funding Women in Sex Tech?

Cindy Gallop calls outs venture capitalists for ignoring female-focused startups.

Advertising maven Cindy Gallop stands on stage giving a presentatino on Make Love Not Porn.

Consider this: After five years of bootstrapping social sex site Make Love Not Porn [NSFW], founder Cindy Gallop received $2 million last month from an anonymous investor.

On the other hand, Hims, a men’s wellness company that sells products for erectile dysfunction and baldness launched late last year. Now three months into 2018, the startup has reportedly raised $40 million from two venture firms. That’s on top of an earlier $7 million investment from at least three other venture firms.

So why has Make Love Not Porn faced an uphill battle, while Hims seems to be swimming in money by comparison?

Gallop took to Twitter yesterday to address what she calls a double standard, one that favors men’s pleasure and ignores women’s:

Sex tech startups generally struggle to attract investors. Hims may have appealed to them more since the company plans to sell nonsex-related products beyond its current Viagara offering. But let’s face it, the stigma of using pills to treat erectile dysfunction has largely waned.

Perhaps the main problem is most venture capitalists are men who are more inclined to fund companies focused on their needs. What, if anything, can be done to get them interested in women’s pleasure? Or must non-cis male entrepreneurs work outside the system to raise capital?

Share your views in the comments below. Is there a double standard for funding women-run sex tech startups? What can be done to achieve parity?

Image sources: Cindy Gallop

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  • B Sloan

    I respect this website a lot as it digs deep into topics important for the adult toy industry that are not reported elsewhere. But this article in particular digs deep into a non-issue and uses a misleading example.

    First, its irrational to compare a company that sold 10 million dollars of physical products in the telemedicine niche (for male health issues) in its first year of operations with another company that sells amateur adult video clips as part of a social network. Few investors invest in adult video websites, whether they are owned by men or women. Many investors invest in e-commerce companies and many now specifically look to invest in companies that will enter the new telemedicine market. Many investors love quick growth. 10m in sales in the first year of operation ( attracts investor’s attention. The photo accompanying the article showing that Gallop’s website has 1m in revenues after 5 years. After 5 years, her website has only 200 creators who created content and 2000 total videos. In other words, its a very small business with limited growth potential.

    Why has “Make Love Not Porn” faced an uphill battle while gets 10m in funding? I don’t have enough time to write about thousands of companies that got funding and why others didn’t but its normally related to something very simple to understand and coincidentally the only important thing to investors: MONEY. If her website didn’t get funding its because she couldn’t convince investors that investing in her website would bring not just a return but a HUGE return. VC’s seek out companies that can grow by 100 or 1000x and then go public. That’s just how the world works.

    I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than 10 years. I know dozens of VC’s and investors and I know hundreds of entrepreneurs. I know several women who lead venture backed startups. They are in attractive spaces for investors like online fashion, organic food, and various types of e-commerce. I even know a few female founders who got venture funding who’s companies are related to sex toys. I know zero VC backed companies that are in porn.

    When we don’t succeed at something or don’t succeed fast enough, my experiences have lead me to understand that the problem is most often ourselves. But unfortunately some people would rather blame others for their own failures. That is what has happened here.

    I do think that real problems exist in this area regarding how investors deal with male vs. female founded companies but this article does a disservice to the issue by using this example.

    • Jenna Owsianik

      Hi Brian, thanks for your thoughtful comment and adding more context regarding investor interest in telemedicine for male health issues. I’m curious to know more about telemedecine startups perhaps in this space dealing with women’s health issues. Good to know that, as you say, you know of no VC-backed companies in pornography regardless of the person running it.

      • B Sloan

        Yep there is only private money in porn and it’s not easy to come by for anyone. VCs back what makes money. Whether it’s for men or women is of no concern to any of the many investors I’ve ever met. Thanks for producing great work on this website for the industry.

        • Jenna Owsianik