She thinks sex tech is necessary in the age of Trump

Tech founder wants you to share your sex life
Tech founder wants you to share your sex life

Entrepreneur Cindy Gallop is hellbent on bringing "sextech" out of the fringes.

You're probably thinking: Does the world really need more connected vibrators or smart kegel trainers?

But Gallop defines "sextech" as any technology venture designed to innovate and enhance human sexuality.

For her, that means getting people comfortable talking about sex ... by sharing videos of themselves having it. Gallop, a former advertising executive based in New York City, calls that social sex.

She has been working since 2009 to normalize conversations about sex, first launching a site to simply debunk sex myths that come from porn (for example, no, not all women like being cursed out in bed).

In 2013, she expanded it with MakeLoveNotPorn.tv, a social platform where people can share videos of consensual sex with their partner.

Gallop wants to combat the fact that sex is taboo. When people do talk about it, their words are often infused with shame. "Walk of shame" and "slut shaming" are just a couple widely used terms that attach judgment to sexual activity.

cindy gallop

Given recent events, it's arguably more important than ever to get people talking about consent, sex and porn. After all, Donald Trump tried to pass off his "grab them by the p***y" comment as "locker room talk." And Stanford student Brock Turner was given a mere six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Turner's father defended his behavior, suggesting that "20 minutes of action" didn't merit prison.

Some blame the availability of aggressive porn for fostering a culture that projects male dominance as normal -- even appropriate. After Turner was sentenced, porn site xHamster took a stand against violent porn. It enacted a "Brock Turner rule." When users search for rape-like images or videos on the site, it directs them to seek mental health services.

Related: This founder makes people uncomfortable -- and that's a problem

"We have to bring this discussion out into the open and people are increasingly understanding why," Gallop, 57, told CNNMoney. "When grabbing women by the pussy is presidentially endorsed, we can no longer go on operating around sex and porn the way we always have."

Gallop wants Make Love Not Porn to be a counterpoint to porn, but she's struggled to find backers to fund her vision.

She said she's raised just over $1 million since 2011 (a combination of her own money and funds from angel investors). For the past two years, she's been trying, unsuccessfully, to raise an additional $2 million.

She says investors are leery of publicly funding a sex tech company, which is still considered "taboo."

tech vs taboos

Instead of taking her lack of funding as a sign to quit, Gallop is going bigger. In November, she announced that she's looking to raise $10 million for a new fund, All the Sky Holdings, to invest in and incubate other sex tech companies.

"I decided that I might have more success raising money to fund the category than funding my own startup," she said, adding that she's been studying the cannabis industry since it was able to break through social barriers and raise money. In the meantime, she's collecting funds for MLNP through iFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform.

Related: She's been sexually assaulted three times -- once in VR

MLNP's current business model relies on the company being able to scale. People pay to stream MLNP's sex videos, half of which goes to the creators (there are about 200 so far). Similar to YouTube, creators get a cut of the profits based on views.

But there are a host of other money-making elements that Gallop has yet to build, partly due to funding and partly due to other hurdles. Nearly every tech service she's wanted to use -- from hosting to video sharing -- prohibits adult content in the terms of service, for example.

Gallop also envisions building out an online academy for sex education, where parents and teachers can find curated tips from sex educators about how to talk to kids about sex and values.

The pervasiveness of porn can't, and shouldn't, be ignored, argues Gallop. Popular adult site Pornhub said 91 billion videos were watched on its site in 2016. Absent open and honest conversation about sex, though, many people don't fully distinguish between porn as entertainment -- and sex as a reality.

"Talking openly and honestly about sex creates so much social benefit which the world very badly needs," added Gallop.

Social Surge - What's Trending

Mortgage

CNNMoney Sponsors