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Online Dating Company to Invest in Tech

A company known for its adult-themed dating website is jumping into the venture capital game.

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FriendFinder Networks, which runs 30,000 dating sites, including adultfriendfinder.com, is launching FriendFinder Ventures. The company made the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday.

FriendFinder CEO Marc Bell says the endeavor will invest in online growth opportunities, such as "Internet and technology startups."

Bell cites recent valuations of Facebook and Groupon as evidence that it's the right time to launch this new venture capital subsidiary.

FriendFinder Networks already runs a large family of companies, including Penthouse. Bell, who recently made headlines for trying to buy the struggling Playboy Enterprises, says FriendFinder Ventures will be unlike most of the company's current businesses. Many of them produce and distribute original adult pictorial and video content. Asked about adult content in these new businesses, he says they will have "none at all."

CES 2011 - Your Digital Life - A CNBC Special Report
CES 2011 - Your Digital Life - A CNBC Special Report

The first to receive funding from the new venture is Big Ego Games, a company focused on social media games. Its first release is titled “Yarr," a browser-based pirate game, which will be available on Facebook.

Bell says Big Ego Games will be a "direct competitor to Zynga Games" which is behind the wildly successful online games CityVille, Farmville and Mafia Wars.

That competition doesn’t phase Bell, who says Big Ego Games will have a pre-made audience. Bell says, “We have the ability to leverage our massive infrastructure to help them. We have big data centers, 400 million email addresses and 200 thousand affiliates to help drive traffic.”

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