NEW YORK - Subscribers of the Christian dating website BigChuch.com might be surprised to learn the site's parent company is Penthouse Media Group Inc., Newsweek points out in its May 19 issue.
"At a time when ever-raunchier Internet porn has made such mainstream mags as Penthouse and Playboy seem like throwbacks to more innocent times, these well-established brands have been trying to diversify and reinvent themselves," Jennifer Ordonez writes in the article.
The article examines the need for adult-based companies to branch out, now that the Internet has made access to adult material so easy.
That's why Marc Bell, CEO of Penthouse Media Group, is looking to revitalize the company by making it more of a social-networking business, he told Newsweek. The company's acquisition of Various Inc. and its collection of FriendFinder and other dating sites for $500 million in December 2007 was a move in that direction.
The purchase gave Penthouse Media Group a broad reach to social-networking users. Its roster of sites now ranges from BigChurch.com and Bondage.com to the biggest, AdultFriendFinder.com. AdultFriendFinder.com, which is billed as the "world's largest adult sex and swingers site," is one of the most highly trafficked websites in the world, with more than 18 million members, the company says.
Bell told Newsweek that in the coming months, Penthouse Media Group will be renamed FriendFinder Networks Inc., and he plans to take the company public by the end of the year. The Penthouse brand will be a well-known but smaller arm of the company, he said.
"Penthouse is just another website," he said in the article. "We are in the social-networking business. We are not in the business of Penthouse."
However, Bell noted, the name recognition won't hurt other branches of the company.
"Penthouse is a worldwide trademark," he said, "and we see opportunity in combining our brands."