NOT A JOKE: Canadian PE Firm Named Ethical Capital Partners to Acquire Parent of Pornhub
Posted on 03/17/2023
Luxembourg-based technology company MindGeek is the parent of Pornhub, the world’s biggest pornography site and other adult entertainment platforms. MindGeek’s other assets include YouPorn, Redtube, Brazzers, Men.com, Sean Cody, Trans Angels, and Nutaku. Pornhub was founded in 2007 and has over 76 million monthly active registered members and over 130 million adults visit the site daily. Scandal-plagued MindGeek faced persistent criticism that it’s failed to prevent users from uploading or viewing illegal videos, including child sexual abuse material. In late 2020, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof accused MindGeek of sex-trafficking, child pornography, and rape videos. Payment giants Visa Inc. and Mastercard Corporation suspended its credit card services for the site. In June 2022, MindGeek CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Tassillo resigned from their positions while both remained shareholders in the company. In addition, the website is the subject of the Netflix documentary Money Shot: The Pornhub Story by Suzanne Hillinger.
Canada-based private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners acquired Pornhub for an undisclosed amount. The head of Ethical Capital Partners has experience in dealing with controversial investments. Rocco Meliambro is the Chairman of Ethical Capital Partners and in 2015 he founded Meta Growth, a Canadian cannabis retailer. The management team of Ethical Capital Partners includes lawyers and former cannabis (weed) investors. Sarah Bain is a member of the team at Ethical Capital Partners. Bain served on the boards of Famous5 Ottawa and Women in Communications and Technology (WCT), organizations that promote, engage and inspire women to build networks and achieve leadership in Canada.
In 2021, a group of Canadian investors tried to acquire MindGeek in a proposal called Project Narsil. In JRR Tolkien literature, Narsil was a legendary sword. Project Narsil was run by Chuck Rifici, a former volunteer Liberal Party chief financial officer who made a lot of money off legal marijuana. The proposed deal back then was to be acquired by Bruinen Investments, a firm formed by Chiuch Rifici.
MindGeek says its headquarters is in Luxembourg, with offices in Montreal; Bucharest, Romania; Nicosia, Cyprus; London; and Los Angeles.