Despite the media-gazer chatter about Nick Denton selling Fleshbot as his company's next grown-up move, the porn site hasn't legally been a part of Gawker Media for two years. In 2009, Denton's company made a grown-up decision to bring in payroll giant ADP to handle its human resources duties. But because ADP's guidelines forbid partnering with porn sites, the firm wouldn't agree to cut checks for Fleshbot. Denton's solution was to take ownership of the site personally. For at least the first few months after the move, Denton paid the salaries of Fleshbot staffers with his own personal, handwritten checks.
So why does Denton want to sell Fleshbot now? So far the official reason is fairly vague. Fleshbot has been absent from Gawker Media's lineup since 2009, and in The New Yorker's 2010 profile of Denton Ben McGrath wrote that the porn site was "a drag on the reputable kind of advertising that Denton now covets." When Jim Fallows wrote about Gawker Media in the April issue of The Atlantic, he noted that Fleshbot "accounts for about 5 percent of the company’s total traffic." Fleshbot editor Lux Alptraum hinted at the advertiser factor in her blog post on Wednesday announcing the site was for sale. "As GM has grown, its sales strategy and technology platform have ceased to effectively support Fleshbot’s needs," she wrote. "We think someone else could be a much better partner to grow the site with us."
We asked Denton about his decision to sell and he said, "No, the only real factors were time -- and we had some hassle with [Fleshbot's] ad serving." In Denton's IM session with AllThingsD's Peter Kafka, he said the site "just hadn't fit in for a long time." Kafka asked, "So why not anytime in the last TK years?" and Denton responded, "Oh, I don't know. Because I'm slow to realize the inevitable?"