Ashley Madison shows that IPO talk is often just hot air

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ashley Madison Claims 87,596 Totally Real Women Who Are Definitely Real Just Signed Up.

Hundreds of thousands of people signed up for infidelity website Ashley Madison in the last week, parent company Avid Life Media said on Monday, even after hackers leaked data about millions of its clients. The company also struck back at reports that the site had few genuine female users, saying internal data released by hackers had been incorrectly analyzed. “Recent media reports predicting the imminent demise of Ashley Madison are greatly exaggerated,” the company said in a statement. “Despite having our business and customers attacked, we are growing.” On Aug. 18, hackers who claimed to be unhappy with Avid Life’s business practices released Ashley Madison customer data.

How is one supposed to imagine a future for it in the wake of a hack that led to the public shaming of many of the site’s members and the resignation of its parent company’s CEO? A Gizmodo investigation corroborated that and found that only 12,000 of the 5.5 million female profiles on the adultery site belonged to living, breathing women.

Reporting its death is a perfectly reasonable trap, one that I fell into when writing about the site last week, as I described what its users “had” done, operating on the implicit assumption that they wouldn’t be doing it anymore. It said thousands of users had listed email addresses that ended with ashleymadison.comand that very few, about 1,500, female members had ever checked the site for messages. For at least three years before the publication of details about its members, Avid Life had been struggling to sell itself or raise funds, according to internal documents and emails that hackers also released. If those numbers turned you off, never fear: In its recent press release, Ashley Madison claims that 87,596 totally real women who are definitely real have signed up in the “past week alone.” In its specificity, this number is clearly meant to carry the weight of authority and truth. Ashley Madison and ALM (which also owns Cougar Life and Established Men) is “actively adjusting” after the breach, which saw the private details of millions of customers dumped online.

Given the amount of publicity the site has received, it’s entirely possible that some new users created accounts, whether out of curiosity, intent to troll, or even real desire. Of course, if existing engagement ratios hold, only 26 of those definitely real women are ever going to take a gander at what other users write to them.

If anything stands alone on Ashley Madison, it must be those relationships, most of which are likely still playing out only in the individual imaginations of its members.

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