XPays: Not Just About the Foosball

XPays isn't only about the foosball anymore.

Even so, they've got plenty of custom tables floating around the industry, from those not-so-long-ago days when the XPays crew put fellow Webmasters in foosball boot camp, just so they'd have someone to play with. With their foosball placement program, XPays made champions.

But it's not about foosball anymore.

After four big years of running their kickass affiliate program, the fun-loving and community-minded co-owners of XPays (www.xpays.com), Michael Landau and Evan Horowitz, have finally grown up. Or at least they're projecting a more mature image for their company.

"It's still fun," says Evan, "it's just a more responsible fun." After paying out over $40 million since starting the company, "responsible fun" sounds like a good call. Reflecting back on his track record, he adds, "In four years, we've never paid a Webmaster late. At the end of the day, that's really what's important."

So maybe it wasn't ever really just about the foosball.

While projecting a happy-go-lucky image, XPays was a serious venture even before the company was started. After meeting at UC Berkeley, Michael and Evan both "fell in love with the Internet at the same time." Armed with optimism, excitement, and college degrees, their biggest challenge back in 1996 was figuring out a plan for success. "We didn't want to be working for someone else doing something we didn't want to be doing," says Evan.

Getting their feet wet in the international network, they created a search engine called Official Search and a kid's link site called Linkasauras. Both sites are still active.

And then...

"Someone contacted us and said, 'If you're making money selling Amazon books on your site, you'll make a ton of money selling my site on your site.'" He went on to suggest monetizing links in the Official Search search engine whenever possible.

"Sure enough, the guy had eight adult pay sites," says Evan, and so, just like a fairy tale, XPays started taking shape.

Realizing that they'd stumbled upon a veritable pot of gold, Evan and Michael started building the rainbow and hiring the leprechauns.

Bouncing traffic from their search engine to this initial ring of pay sites, Evan and Michael saw how profits could be swept in. "Why not give surfers what they're looking for?" And, while you're rerouting traffic, why not get a little sumpin'-sumpin' for your trouble?

The genius of XPays lies in their particular solution. While others at the time were paying out per click, XPays devised a system in which traffic was effortlessly routed to various destinations, always carrying with it the five-digit ID number from its online origin. So, if Joe Webmaster sent traffic to Skinny Asian Bitches, then onto Fat White Wenches, culminating with a detour to Hairy Dude Ranch, and Joe Surfer bought memberships everywhere down the line, then Joe Webmaster would get a commission on each and every sale. Even months later, the inception of this surfer could be tracked to an XPays affiliate.

Furthermore, XPays devised a way to make sure that every banner clicked would go somewhere that money could truly change hands. "An XPays click is always converted into something that can produce revenue for the affiliate," says Evan. With a geographical targeting system in place, XPays easily shuffles traffic to sites legal and billable to local users. Ads and destination sites are customized to take local obscenity laws, connection speed, and age verification into consideration. With affiliates in over 70 countries, XPays is clearly part of the global economy. China represents 14 percent of their traffic, and is the fastest-growing segment of their market.

For the Webmaster, the program is simple to join. Most come in to the XPays Website as referrals, earning the referring Webmaster a "ReferCash" bonus. After taking a tour, the Webmaster signs up and immediately receives their ID code. From there, the Webmaster can access HTML code, banners, full page ads, and text links that go to over 100 different high-quality niche sites. When surfers click on these banners, they're directed to a site that will give them exactly what they want. "It's Xpays job to figure out which is the best Asian site, rather than the Webmaster's," says Evan. Primarily, these links connect to tried and true networks, like Babenet, CEN, Silvercash - outfits that have the resources, the billing ability, the content, and the infrastructure to accommodate the influx of surfers, another way they can guarantee that click-throughs will not die on impact.

While the newly signed-up Webmaster is busy putting up their new banners, XPays is scrutinizing them, making sure that they're legit, testing out their phone numbers and checking out their sites. "We protect the integrity of the network," explains Evan.

During their four-year ride through the adult Internet biz, XPays has added plenty of other services that Webmasters can benefit from. In addition to posting banners for over 100 niche Websites, Webmasters can use XPays to produce a custom sex toys virtual storefront, XSextoys. And, if they want to appeal to the aural interests of their surfers, XPays offers phone sex opportunities, XPackets.

The continual growth of XPays doesn't necessarily mean that individual Webmasters will get left behind, since, according to Evan, democracy rules. "All Webmasters are created equal," he says. "The guy who sends you 50 hits today could be sending you 50,000 hits today. Not tomorrow, but today. You just never know." To this end, Evan takes to the soapbox every Thursday afternoon on his Web radio program Evan Radio (www.evanradio.com), a friendly forum that has been going strong for over a year and a half.

As if all of this weren't enough, XPays has also branched out to serve two other disparate segments of the population, the fashion-starved and the physically disabled.

GiveTech (www.givetech.org), started last year by Evan and Michael, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing severely disabled people with specially engineered computer equipment. So far, GiveTech has been able to supply 15-20 people per month with custom units, enabling even more people to communicate online and to graze in the pastures of the World Wide Web.

And XThreadz, which started life as a suite of promotional T-shirts and soon grew into a complete clothing line, now has a store of its own in San Francisco. The store, called Virgin 69, integrates a live DJ and local artwork in the space, creating a sweet atmosphere for shopping. The clothes themselves are inspired by Cali street culture, and the current collection includes a complete line of patched leather pants and jackets, along with plenty of other sexy denim and leather pieces and even some underwear. Everything at XThreadz is designed and manufactured in California, most of it right in San Francisco. Cool-kid T-shirts strut graphics from Bay Area graphic designers, graffiti artists, illustrators, and painters. Tthreadz are also available at dozens of retail stores nationwide. Just so no one gets left out in the cold, affiliate Webmasters earn XPoints redeemable for XThreadz.

With a charity organization, 11,000 affiliate Webmasters worldwide, and a brand new clothing line, XPays continues its stellar growth and expansion.

But surely there's still time for fun.

"Our booth in Hollywood will be understated and simple," says Evan, sounding incredibly corporate and adult. No DJs? Foosball? Skateboard ramp?

"I'll be DJing a reggae set at D-Money's Player's Pool Party," confesses Evan, "but we're not bringing a foosball table this time around."

Hopefully, someone will pick up the slack. Cause Internext without foosball is like Internet without porn.