The keynote speaker for the 2014 Internext Expo will be Andrew Conru, founder and CEO of FriendFinder Networks. Conru’s keynote address will be delivered January 12 from 4-5:30 p.m. in Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.
FriendFinder owns Penthouse and a string of adult entertainment websites including Cams.com, but of course the company is best known for adult dating site AdultFriendFinder.com.
Conru started FriendFinder in 1996 while finishing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering design at Stanford. The company’s mission was to create a one-stop shop for all types of relationships and it grew rapidly for the next twelve years. In December 2007, he handed over the keys to a private equity group for a small initial payment with the remainder in IOUs. Unfortunately, the company drifted from its core mission and suffered.
The company went public in 2011, expecting to collect nearly $500 million because of the healthy revenues it was reporting from online subscriptions, video content sales, and various Penthouse licensing deals. The initial public offering raised less than $50 million, however.
In September 2013, FriendFinder filed for bankruptcy, blaming its debt of more than $544 million — most of it assumed from its $400 million purchase of Various, a network of dating sites, in 2007. After buying Various, FFN had merged its online properties with its Penthouse Media Group holdings.
After a drawn-out restructuring, in December 2013 Conru again became the majority owner and returned as CEO. As a hands-on software and design guy, he remains committed to the company’s growth.
Internext, billed as “the Worldwide Business & Educational Conference”, will be held January 11-14, 2014 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.