VC firms invest in adult pin-up site

BlueRun Ventures and Founders Fund have invested $7 million in a social networking site ‘for models, photographers and fans of female pin-up photography.’

Venture capital firms BlueRun Ventures and Founders Fund have invested $7 million (€4.5 million) in Zivity, an adults-only “social media platform for models, photographers and fans of female pin-up photography”.

This is a Series B financing for San Francisco-based Zivity, which raised $1 million from private investors in August 2007.

Zivity, currently in private beta testing, charges subscribers $10 per month, 40 percent of which is paid to participating models and photographers via a dollar-backed voting system.

Bella Sioux:
Zivity model

The company self-describes as sitting “at the intersection of MySpace, Playboy magazine and American Idol”.

Zivity intends to use newly raised capital to make additional hires and expand infrastructure in advance of a planned 2009 public launch.

“Our subscription-based business model offers us real freedom to publish uncensored content and to pay our content producers generously,” said Zivity chairman Scott Banister in a statement. “We believe customers from all over the world will pay $10 a month for online freedom.”

Zivity was founded by email security company IronPort Security executives Scott Banister, Jeffrey Wescott and Cyan Banister. Scott Banister is best known for being an initial investor and director at PayPal, co-inventing the email payment system used by eBay. He was also a co-founder of IronPort which was sold to Cisco Systems for $830 million in 2007.

BlueRun, a Menlo Park-based early-stage venture capital provider, led the round of financing in Zivity. The firm is currently raising the BlueRun Ventures II fund, targeting $350 million, according to the Probitas 2008 Private Equity Deskbook.

Zivity’s business model “reflects a major shift in the maturation of the Web,” BlueRun founder John Malloy said in a statement.

San Francisco-based venture firm Founders Fund was launched in 2005 by PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel, Ken Howery and Luke Nosnek. The three were later joined by Sean Parker, co-founder of file sharing programme Napster, online address book Plaxo and social networking site Facebook.

Founders’ first fund, which provided seed capital for Facebook, closed on $50 million in July 2005. The firm’s second fund closed on $220 million December 2007.