In some ways, Benjamin, Jason and Adrian are like many startup teams. They live together, they party together, they share sales, marketing and technical duties. But there’s something that sets them apart from your average posse of entrepreneurs: The three men are all in a relationship together.
The trio — or “throuple,” as they call it — run CockyBoys, one of the only gay porn studios in New York City, according to a profile of the small business in New York Magazine’s recent Sex Issue.
Benjamin, 25, is the company’s creative director. He joined the relationship — and the company — four years ago, New York noted. When Jason, 40, CockyBoys’ CEO, and Adrian, 32, met Benny, he was squatting in an abandoned building with no clear career besides a popular gay blog. They invited him into their 9-year relationship, hired him as a personal assistant, and watched as the enterprising 20-something taught himself to write Internet code.
Today, with the help of Benny, CockyBoys is a leader in the online adult entertainment industry, which the Adult Video Network recently pegged at $2.8 billion. The company, according to New York, has between 4,000 and 5,000 members who pay $29.95 a month for access to films on its website.
Benny’s rise mirrors that of another gay New York blogger turned entrepreneur. Bradford Shellhammer ran his own blog and was a popular voice in the online gay community before his friend, Jason Goldberg, approached him with an idea to start a social network for homosexual men. The website later evolved into Fab.com, one of the fastest-growing ecommerce companies in the world, thanks in large part to Shellhammer’s penchant for design.
Though Shellhammer, Fab’s chief creative officer, and Goldberg, the company’s CEO, aren’t romantically involved, they share a close friendship. The pair, who are both gay, lived in the same Manhattan highrise for years while building the fledgling startup, and when one moved to a different apartment building downtown, the other followed.
In the entrepreneurial world, quirkiness and closeness — sexual, or otherwise — is indeed unremarkable. As futurist Ray Kurzweil once said, Silicon Valley was an outgrowth of the 1960's hippie movement, which espoused free love. Peter Thiel, one of PayPal's co-founders, has also noted that successful founders tend to be out there.
Of PayPal's six-person founding team, Thiel said in a recent lecture at Stanford University, four claimed to have built bombs in high school.