OPW INTERVIEW -- Apr 25 -- Ashley Madison is for those already in relationships to find a 'bit on the side' as we say in England. Its the site I most love to hate, but, bless 'em, they fulfill a need and make great money doing so. We asked the CEO of Ashley Madison if he'd be OK with his wife using Ashley Madison. See his answer below... - Mark Brooks
What is Ashley Madison, who are your members, and how did the name come about?
Ashley Madison is the largest dating service of its kind catering to like minded adults who are already in a committed relationship. Our members are people who find themselves attached at this stage in their lives, and in many instances, in otherwise very happy marriages or with great family situations, but they're physically or emotionally unfulfilled. What they seek at Ashley Madison is someone who understands those needs.
The name is fictitious and based on the two most popular girl's names in 2001 when the founder of the service, Darren Morgenstern, came up with the concept.
What makes your site stand out from the competition?
I think we're unique, one of the only sites in this niche, and we're definitely the originator. The genesis of the business itself was a report that stated that upwards of 30 to 35 percent of people on singles dating services were actually attached, and so we thought 'what if you could create a site where you didn't have to lie about your personal circumstances?' You could put your hand up and say 'this is who I am; this is my situation in life. I'm still looking to meet someone else to fill a void and not create any additional risks for myself.' That's the uniqueness of the Ashley Madison model.
How does your service help people improve the quality of their lives?
Ironically, we've actually preserved a number of relationships and marriages in the sense that many people suffer from a lack of physical or emotional intimacy. Other aspects of their lives are going well, great career, incredible children, extended family, but there is just a certain critical element to their life that they're not happy with. With Ashley Madison, they have a chance to explain that and not be judged for it, because everybody knows the nature of the service when they join. Here's a chance to meet someone like-minded. All of a sudden, when that void is filled, they can be an even better parent, a better spouse or partner to whomever they're with in their life.
But why would anyone who wasn't looking for a marital split want to openly broadcast their cheating?
Statistics show that approximately 60% of people are somehow involved in cheating in their relationship. It's almost a DNA pull, a fact of life, and we battle against it all the time.
People wrestle with the whole notion. When they've finally made the determination that this is what they need to do for themselves, the next move can be challenging. The work place is fraught with problems. Someone could lose his or her job; you could misread a cue. If you visit a prostitute, you could end up with an STD. You could have a stigma attached to you for breaking the law. There are so many problems.
If you come to a service like ours, you can at least mitigate the risks. You still take a risk; I want to be clear. Anytime you do this you take a risk, but if you've been thinking about it, then you tend to approach it in a different way.
How do you check for fraudulence?
We review every single profile and photo prior to releasing it to our membership base. We remove anyone that we find to be fraudulent, solicitous, or problematic. Soliciting is veiled prostitution. We just won't allow that kind of behavior to take place. We have a fraud check system that we've built up over years and a huge customer care staff who monitor 24/7. We know what our members need and we need to protect them.
How do you protect members (who post photos) from their snoopy spouses?
Many singles will post a public photo but very few attached people do so. Most photos are posted to a private showcase section. The release of those require a key in exchange with another member only after you've built a relationship and have a sense of who they are and what they're about. I've never, in all of our existence, come across one story of a spouse catching another spouse on Ashley Madison. When they do get caught, it's for other reasons. It could be that they didn't clear their cookie on their computer, or the like.
Have you used your own service?
I'm married with two kids, and I hope that I'm not one of those people who find a need for a service like mine – but clearly it's out there.
Would you be okay with your wife using your service?
No. If my wife were using my service, or any dating service, or if I even found her on Facebook chatting with former boyfriends and not telling me about it, I would be emotionally hurt beyond belief, and would feel that our relationship had severe problems. To me, a healthy relationship is one where there is communication and honesty and emotional and physical connectivity. I would hope that that is what is going on in my current relationship, and if not, I'd have to look at myself, and my responsibilities. But if my wife were engaging in such a service, then clearly our relationship would be in trouble.
Is there anything that you want a perspective client to know?
We do our research. We try to understand what you need, and refine our products and services for that. This isn't about judging, it's an open platform, and what you'll find is that no matter who you are, the housewife who just hasn't been complimented or paid attention to in ages, the woman who just really likes being with married men because that's what she wants, or you're with someone you don't want to marry, maybe you want to trade up; if you relate, then you're going to find someone compatible. It's a wide slice of life with real people, and I think that's the great part of our service.