Zivity is demoing its service today at the TechCrunch 40 event. It's a photo gallery of hot women, both clothed and not, and with a twist: Users who pay $10 a month for access to the nudie pix also get five votes a month, which they can parcel out to models they see on the site. Each vote is worth actual cash money to the models and their photographers.
By default, 60 cents goes to the model and 20 cents to the photographer who took it. Established photogs on the site can strike their own deals with models.
CEO Cyan Banister called Zivity a cross between Playboy (obvious), American Idol (the voting system), and MySpace. The last because there's a social angle to the site: Users will be able to interact with the models. The models, presumably, will take to the interaction in order to boost their popularity and earn more bucks.
Banister thinks that top-performing models will be able to earn more from Zivity than from a typical online model shoot (a few hundred bucks) and possibly even more than a Playboy centerfold model earns ($25,000, she says, plus $100,000 for Playmate of the Year). That's a lot of votes for a site that's got to walk the line between tasteful (but not so tasteful it's boring) and exciting (but not too: There will be no sex in the pictures). An initial reaction to this business plan is to scoff: Who's going to pay for straightforward girlie pictures? However, we should not underestimate the perennial power of adult content to generate revenue. There are lots of ways to make money in this business.
What I find most interesting about Zivity is that it's one of the few new adult business models that's not actually breaking new ground--not technologically, socially, nor from a business perspective. Although the idea of rewarding nude models directly for their popularity may not have been done online so far, it's not a new idea in the broader perspective: Social and participatory sites (like Digg) have shown us how powerful the crowd of users can be when it comes to sorting content, and how much value accrues to the winners of these contests. I'm only surprised that the concept originated for G-rated content before moving to the adult world, instead of vice versa.
The site is still in closed beta. And no, I don't have invites.