Launched in late 2016, OnlyFans says it will generate $2B+ in sales in 2020

Article 1: "OnlyFans numbers are huge: 85m+ users, 1m+ creators, $2B in 2020 revenue."

Article 2: "This year, the subscription-based social media service will earn $300 million in profits before accounting for expenses like income taxes, amortization"

I am super curious how this platform became so popular. If you ever had the chance to check the platform, it's not really user-friendly, it's quite slow and a lot of users complain about multiple bugs. From my research, it seems the number of employees is extremely small 

I also tried to find how many people are working at this company and seems the team is pretty small (less than 15 persons) and it seems they don't have their own technical team. 

What I am really curious about is what was the strategy to get more than 1 millions creators in less than 4 years? 

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Comments (30)

Dec 13, 2020 - 6:07am

The simps who stare at their social media "models" get to see those girls half-naked.

That is the whole business model.
(onlyfans relied on the models to do the grunt work like marketing and this bet paid off)

Recently, some models were not willing to give up a cut though and built their own website to increase margins.

The market has shifted from print magazines (playboy, penthouse, hustler,..) of the 70s-80s-90s to digital outlets in the early 2000s to the digital gig economy (onlyfans, younow, cam sites, ..). The only thing missing is a popular VR platform for all of this.

The one big challenge going forward will be the payment gateways. as seen in recent days, card schemes will block certain merchants due to a lot of risks (trafficking, children at risk, forced labor, etc). who is saying that the everyone on there is doing this voluntarily?

source: two of my friends make their entire income through onlyfans and similar digital services. you'd be shocked how much they make.

Dec 13, 2020 - 6:23am

And it seems that OnlyFans is much more like a monopoly? Seems the potential competitors for amateur porn content subscription services are very far from Onlyfans (, fans centro, ...). I am really interested in this market but my 2 cents is it's going to be difficult now to join the race. As of today, if a new content creator wants to join a platform, she probably already heard about OnlyFans and knows that she will potentially have more fans as there is a lot of users on the platform. 

However, the platform really sucks and girls have to do their own promotion (mostly) via Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and so on.

Dec 13, 2020 - 6:29am

Paid content has always been around, all the cam sites were doing this from the 90s until now. And nobody stopped a model who had her own paid portfolio on her own website anyway (where she also had to market this by herself).

I think the key difference is how much revenue was generated through various bits:

- the pandemic made many young girls unemployed and taking their clothes off is the only thing they could possibly do (as easy/hard this seems like)

- major social media outlets allow hot linking to onlyfans and other portals

- not all of the girls doing this are actually girls; plenty of honey traps around. you can buy entire picture sets on the dark web including a fake paypal/cc account to make money (only streaming would not work with that)

- the amount of social media marketing generated is absolutely massive, millions of clicks per day generated through stories and posts

I think you could still do a new platform if you had the technical prowess and new ideas that are lacking elsewhere.

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Dec 13, 2020 - 6:37am

Correct and seems OnlyFans depends mostly from Instagram and Twitter. I would be surprised if they would get 10% of their current revenues without those 2 social-media platforms. 

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Dec 13, 2020 - 6:45am…

We had a similar thread a few months ago, and I still can't believe OF makes so much money when it's just a private company that does not even pay VAT. At this point it's basically free money, server costs must be negligible compared to revenue and the platform just takes a cut on every transaction without requiring any significant operating cost in terms of marketing, etc.

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Dec 13, 2020 - 11:38am

Net revenue is probably like 350-400m they shouldn't have any costs as someone alluded. 2bn is likely the $ transacting on their site (gross revenues.

That aligns with their fee % of ~20%. Amazing model 70-80% ebitda margins. And incremental contribution margin 100%. 

if I were them I'd plough that back into (I) making the site user interface pristine, and (ii) building a bone fide customer general engine for the models

the above would build an quasi permanent moat

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Apr 25, 2021 - 1:16pm

I think one risk to their biz model is thots going direct. If you've locked in subscription for 50k+ followers and you want to recapture that 20% OF cut, not a crazy stretch to imagine moving off-site. There's no exclusivity agreement and since you are subscribing to each individual thot vs. the full collection, it means a sub wants to simp for specific them the bargaining power to either push down the OF take rate or move off site. 

Unlike Instagram, there's no draw to be on OF unless you want to follow specific thots....IG has way more use cases from connecting with friends / family, following certain news channels, etc. So the network effects aren't as pronounced and moats are not as strong as one might think at first blush

Also not really relevant for a 5-10yr time horizon but the really long term risk (15+yrs) is AI sex dolls. What does OF do that cam sites didn't? Simp interactivity with the thot. But even then, you can't actually have sex with an OF girl and the friction for 'human connection' remains high (if lower than before) can't interact with a specific fan as much as a human gf. Apparently a doll called Harmony (see article below) can already have human conversations, laugh, make expressions, quote Shakespeare, etc. Once these come into play (15+yrs out) OF thots will simply be replaced with the more frictionless option. I'm sure that they will take some time to be normalized within our society but I'd argue that at least in the West, sexual freedom has and will continue to become bigger part of vernacular. Harvard did a study a while back showing that polygamy will be normalize in West by 2060 or so, think about how far LGBTQ rights have come in the past decade alone, sex toys way more acceptable than they ever were. Add all that to young male virginity being on the rise and I think the adoption curve for AI sex dolls that get to be 80% of the human experience will look a lot faster than one might think. Obviously timing is uncertain, could be 15yrs or could be 25yrs -- but this is definitely coming. 

Two articles I found Googling around that go into more detail (second one is really comprehensive):…… 

Some other questions I have:

1) What are constraints on supply? Theoretically not an issue but what % of girls are willing to give up futures / getting normal jobs & not getting fired / not worries about future partners / etc? Obviously top 1-2% can make a living off of OF and saving enough to never worry about a normal job. But bottom 98%, not so much esp if we look at other creators (social media influencers, bloggers, artists, etc). 

2) How do you drive growth after this engine slows? Sex toys seem a natural extension, it's a $30bl industry much can OF capture vs. other sites? I don't think OF has yet demonstrated a 'right to win' here. What are the next levers of growth? Hard to scale beyond this to other verticals given nature of OF....just like people didn't want to mix professional lives with personal (why FB didn't succeed in copying LinkedIn) I don't think anyone wants to mix other parts of their lives (or have a 'social element' added in) with OF. Also, who wants to read news / follow influencers on OF...your monkey mind shuts out everything else, and once you've 'done your thing' why stay on the site vs. going to other sites like FB / IG / TikTok / etc?

Dec 13, 2020 - 11:46am

every UK paper describes the 37 y.o. founder Tim Stokely as the "son of a banker" - anyone has his dad as an MD or something?

Dec 13, 2020 - 12:31pm

That's hilarious. I bet his dad no longer has to work.

400M just this year, amazing.

But he found the most obvious niche for a pandemic - lonely people sitting at home, with either no work or permanent WFH.

If you look at the number of dating threads on WSO or the thousands of thirsty Indian dudes posting on reddit, it all makes sense.

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Dec 13, 2020 - 2:59pm

Do you think there is still space for new players or it's much more like a monopoly?

Dec 13, 2020 - 3:10pm

Not sure who the question is for, I just put in my ideas;
If the new concept would be unique enough then yes. Different could be: 
- a payment provider that won't be blocking "difficult" content, maybe introducing coins or something that can be earned somehow? ie. "the alipay for this type of stuff"
- show content device- and platform- agnostic (including VR)
- potentially 3D/VR content going forward
- creators who can put rich AR elements out there, maybe something like a competition or capture the flag or something like this?
- an immersive experience, like if you were there when it happens
- the streaming experience IMO is not great currently
- how do you avoid having illegal content on the platform with AI? Can you teach AI how to recognize age? Can AI recognize trafficking?
- something like Instagram live but with a different concept, more like stories/moderated/without the abuse

Apr 25, 2021 - 1:27pm

Thanks to a spam bot another old thread was pushed up.

Either way, a friend of mine recently joined OnlyFans and after only 2 weeks her average annual salary is projected to be higher than mine. She never went to college, barely any expenses, only a cat to care for. When she turns 25 she will be a (multiple) millionaire and can do whatever she wants.

She started with a small IG account and twitter and then pushed her OF content through those channels.

I am not saying that this job is a good thing or a bad thing, just mentioning how much money is in it.

Apr 25, 2021 - 2:46pm

I think our society values rarity.

- An educated person who makes millions for a company through financial instruments is rare compared to the rest of the population.
- A brain surgeon who can save patients is equally rare.
- However, a very attractive young woman who is so enticing that her looks encourage hundreds and thousands of (mostly) men to enter their credit card details and pay for soft core pictures.. - is also rare.

I understand that these jobs are not the same or even comparable, but that comparison is a social construct to begin with. What we may not value, hundreds and thousand of other people do. All morals aside, this friend of mine found a way to make it big in a very competitive field. Therefore, she appears more prestigious.

Apr 29, 2021 - 4:18am

You can make popular any product you want. You just need to know how to promote it. Social media are suitable platforms for making money -- they provide many opportunities for that. Now, in the world where everything is digitalized, you can make money easier than before. When I had my first start-up business, I lost a lot of money and had many credits in banks. But in the end, I had some experience and acquaintances who helped and supported me. So, when I tried to start my business again, I followed someone's advice and contacted a social media agency liverpool. They have promoted my website, and my financial records increased.

Apr 29, 2021 - 5:26am

Men, this is your fault and you should be ashamed. 

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

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