Pornhub owner MindGeek bought by Canadian private equity firm

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The sale of the adult site came after a controversy over posting child abuse and other content without consent.

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The operator of the controversial but highly popular adult website Pornhub has been sold to a Canadian private equity firm.

Ottawa-based Ethical Capital Partners (ECP) said Thursday it has bought MindGeek, the company that owns Pornhub and several other pornographic sites.

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The terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed.

ECP Chairman Rocco Meliambro said the stock company has focused on identifying properties that can “create attractive returns within an attractive timeframe.”

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“We believe that the adult entertainment industry is being influenced by changing public attitudes and regulatory approaches and it is time for this business to grow,” Meliambro said in a statement.

Pornhub, one of the most visited sites on the planet, has generated controversy in recent years due to allegations that its owners profit from child sexual abuse, rape videos, revenge porn and other content without consent.

Mastercard and Visa stopped processing payments for Pornhub in 2020 after a New York Times article described the site as “infested with rape videos.” The move was welcomed by proponents of pornography but criticized by adult performers.

MindGeek, based in Montreal but now based in Luxembourg, has been the subject of several lawsuits by women who have accused the company of knowingly posting sexual content featuring them without their consent.

In 2021, MindGeek settled a lawsuit in California brought by 50 women who claimed to have been victims of the site.

MindGeek has stated that it has a zero-tolerance stance on non-consensual content and is vulnerable to content-uploading attackers like other online platforms. The company has introduced a number of measures to combat the distribution of illegal content, including verification of users uploading materials to the site.

The CEO and COO of MindGeek stepped down last year while remaining shareholders of the company.

ECP founding partner Sarah Bain said she is confident MindGeek operates “with trust and security in everything they do.”

“We will engage with stakeholders including content creators, governments and the industry to bridge the gap between how MindGeek operates and what the public perceives about the industry and these platforms,” Bain said.

“We will work with the team to ensure that their commitment to trust and safety is clearly communicated to all stakeholders and the public.”

A documentary about Pornhub, Money Shot: The Pornhub Story, debuting this week on Netflix, has reignited the debate about the website and regulation of online sexual content.

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