SpankChain’s Making Money for Cam Performers But Not for Itself

Four days ago, SpankChain, the Ethereum-based adult webcam platform, told CoinDesk that it paid out around $72,422 worth of cryptocurrency payments to webcam models who used its service since it opened in April. Two days later, the company posted on Reddit to say that it had “downsized” to eight staffers.

Two cam performers told CoinDesk that their income on SpankChain exceeded their combined earnings on other cam sites. Neither of them seem bothered by cryptocurrency’s recent downturn in value (presumably they still charge based on their preferred fiat amounts), and both spoke about how the relatively small percentage SpankChain takes from their earnings—five percent vs. the industry’s standard 50 percent plus—makes them feel empowered.

Meanwhile, SpankChain’s CEO Ameen Soleimani told Redditors, “We downsized to focus more on SpankPay product development and sales.” The team, according to his post, now includes Soleimani, two full-stack developers, a front-end developer, and one employee who works in each of the following departments: finance, operations, sales, and community. You could interpret that as SpankChain having to pay users so frequently that the SpankPay product needs more attention, or you could interpret that as the company downsizing to focus on sales because it doesn’t have enough users to be profitable. (SpankChain did not respond to BREAKER’s request for comment.)

These conflicting success statistics aren’t uncommon in the current crypto atmosphere. Go to a launch party for a cryptocurrency wallet company and attendees will tell you how, during this cold, dark crypto winter, their companies are actually doing just fine. In fact, they’re doing better than fine. They’re thriving.

Whether that’s true or not, SpankChain’s contradictory payment vs. employee numbers don’t reflect this atmosphere—they precede it. The adult entertainment industry has always been an early adopter of new technologies, from VHS to digital advertising to geolocation software. Sex workers were transacting in bitcoin regularly before almost anyone else. Driven by legal necessity (selling sex and things like it isn’t exactly embraced by the law), the adult industry has become exceptionally adaptable. That’s perhaps why a company like SpankChain has weathered the recent crypto bloodbath and isn’t afraid to admit to downsizing.

SpankChain just celebrated its one-year anniversary, according to a press email that began, “Dear Spankers.” The company has been nominated for three XBIZ Awards, including “innovative web product of the year,” “emerging web brand,” and “marketing campaign” (so has adult industry token None of last year’s winners included blockchain-based companies. Maybe crypto prices are down, maybe the smug air of positivity in the space belies mild anxiety, but the adult industry still considers blockchain and cryptocurrency important and innovative. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel more than any bullish prediction or vow to hodl.