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Soft Porn, Hard Cash

Growing an audience, monetizing it and keeping it happy are among the biggest challenges for streaming entertainment providers. Danni Ashe has met all of them with aplomb. Founder and president of Danni's Hard Drive, Ashe runs one of the most popular soft adult content entertainment sites, Danni.com. Ashe understands and enjoys her business, and has gotten rich because of it.

But sex is not the only ingredient for her success: Ashe believes that if you give the people what they want, and lots of it, they will be willing to pay a subscription, and keep coming back for more. And that's not all: Danni.com is beginning to leverage its hard-won knowledge in customer and payment management by offering technical services to other sites.

The "World's Most Downloaded Woman" is petite, punctual and professional. Ashe employs 42 people, six of them programmers, and aims to become "the female Hugh Hefner of the new millennium," she says. Publisher Stuart Sheldon sat down to lunch with Ashe to find out what makes her business thrive.

What is the philosophy behind your business? Do you think of your site and your business as a streaming media business?

No … I probably shouldn't say that, huh? We're in the content business. We have our own special brands, a soft-core brand of adult entertainment that's very light, fun, humorous. Sometimes it's photo, sometimes it's video.

We don't produce anything in-house that is hard-core. We offer a couple of feeds that get more explicit than what we produce ourselves, but we don't produce anything hard-core. And that's just my own personal sensibility. I like to keep it where it's fun for me and where it's sort of in my own comfort level.

Danni's Hard Drive has been wildly successful. Where does the bulk of your revenue come from?

We don't sell any advertising. It's predominantly subscriptions — still probably about 95 percent subscriptions. We aggregate vast amounts of content, we archive all of it, so there's literally no way one person could sit down and look at it all. It's not possible. And then we sell it for a flat fee ($19.95). And that's generally the model that has developed through just the lack of any other type of payment system. There is no other viable way to sell digital content online.

We do sell some merchandise, but it's a very small, small part and we just launched a syndicated package that literally just launched a couple weeks ago, so we haven't seen any revenue off it yet. It's called the Most Downloaded Woman Archive.

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