Why IMVU buying Furaffinity makes perfect sense (a post nobody asked for) by ahst

Since it’s a slow day, I thought I’d do a little thinkpiecing. Sorry-not-sorry about the length. If you’re curious and don’t think my head is too far up my own ass, by all means indulge me and read on.


Why IMVU buying #Furaffinity makes perfect sense (a post nobody asked for)

”They drove a dumptruck full of money up to my house! I’m not made of stone!”

Since news broke last week that IMVU purchased Furaffinity from Dragoneer, there’s been one question that everyone’s been asking: “What does this mean for the site?”

I’m not here to answer that question today. The other question has been: “what the hell is IMVU?”

It’s a private, profitable VC-backed company with 120 full-time employees based out of Mountain View, California. Silicon Valley, through-and-through. But that’s not the question I was looking to address, either.

That question is: “why the hell would IMVU, or anybody, buy FA?”

And from where I’m standing, there are four good reasons.

1. The obvious reason

IMVU says they have over 130 million registered accounts, and there’s no reason to doubt that. FA, meanwhile, has (per Twitter) only 750,000 registered accounts. Those numbers mean absolutely nothing. Anyone can register an account, an account exists for ever, and users can have multiple accounts. A better number to look at would be active users.

Thoroughly unscientific methods (viewing the “active users now” for both sites) show IMVU hovering around 50-75,000 active users, with FA at 10-15,000 at the same time. In other words, FA’s active user base is 20% of IMVU’s. That’s smaller, of course, but not insignificantly smaller. In fact, that’s rather significant.

Who are furries? We can’t pin down the entire fandom, but these days it’s not ridiculous to categorize it three ways: young, affluent, and conservative (as in resistant to change, not politically). That is an incredibly desirable market to have access to.

So what if I told you that you could grow your userbase by 20%, that this growth would be almost exclusively from an ultra-desirable demographic, and that you could buy it for a pittance? Either I’m a liar, or you’d be stupid to pass my offer up.

IMVU isn’t expecting every FA user to jump ship, and it doesn’t need to. It can reach the user base through advertising- and other profit sources, which I’ll get to- and when it pulls a few “whales” into its own ecosystem, all the better.

2. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

Dragoneer said that the presence of stolen artwork on the IMVU marketplace was proof that there’s demand for furry art. The phrasing was as ham-fisted and tone-deaf as you’d expect from ‘Neer, but it’s not incorrect. In the absence of a legitimate market, grey and black marketeers will move in, and that’s exactly what those sellers are.

IMVU’s profit model revolves selling virtual goods to its users through its stores, but it doesn’t create the content itself. Other users do, and they profit while IMVU takes a slice for itself. It’s hedging its bets that FA, an artist-driven community, will show interest in developing content for them. Not out of any genuine interest on the artists’ part, but because the artists will decide that if someone’s going to profit from their work on IMVU, it might as well be themselves.

Since IMVU uses its own credit system rather than real world money, this hopefully large influx of new content will increase the allure and stickiness of their site. Vendors, making funbux profits, will stick around, and users who’ve invested into IMVU will too.

3. FA is a pile of untaken opportunities

Who is FA’s biggest competitor? “DeviantArt” is a good answer, but here’s another: StoreEnvy. DesignByHumans. Society6. CafePress.

As I said, FA is an artist-driven community, and artists need to eat. Patreon and commissions work, but might not be enough. Artists running the convention circuit sell prints and other merchandise, but not every artist has the time and resources to put into traveling to cons, or designing and creating their own merchandise. Why not offer those services itself, and take a cut?

It’s not fair to pin FA’s inability to partner with its artists entirely on Dragoneer, because building a trustworthy storefront and finding and dealing with quality subcontractors to use (or doing the work in-house, which costs even more!) is not easy work. But it remains an untaken opportunity. Artists have more ways to profit from their work, FA has a new revenue stream, and the site as a whole becomes more attractive.

True, describing art in terms of profits can feel inhumane, but IMVU is a for-profit company and this post is entirely about why buying FA makes good business sense. IMVU has more resources available, and could throw some towards this potential option. Why let artists run to other sites when you could do the work yourself? That work can be turned back onto IMVU as well: if you’re going to sell for FA’s content creators, why not IMVU’s?

4. That four-letter word: synergy

Quick question: what do a 3D dress-up Bratz doll and a thirty-foot-long dog wang have in common?

That’s my 3D dress-up Bratz doll, and that’s my thirty-foot-long dog wang.

Well, not mine personally, but the issue comes down to ownership. This is where IMVU and FA share a very, very important common ground: personas. IMVU users spend money to create idealized versions of themselves, grounded in reality or not. Furries can spend thousands of dollars bringing their characters to life through art, suits, and other media. One of Weasyl’s unsung features is a section on its user page dedicated exclusively to characters that user has.

Both IMVU and FA are in the same business. They might not look alike, but their goals are aligned: let users be who they want to be. IMVU doesn’t have to change anything to incorporate FA into itself, and this is important. Dilbert may have demonized the word, but “synergy” is the best way to describe it.

IMVU purchasing FA gives it access to a worthwhile user base that’s a significant boost to its own numbers, a fount of content creators that can drive its store sales further, potential new revenue streams, and all while staying in line with its corporate goal. And while we’ll never (barring leaks) know what they paid for it, it’s safe to say it was a pittance for what they’ll get in return.

So yeah, IMVU buying Furaffinity makes perfect sense.


But what does it mean???

The heart of my article is done, from here on out is total speculation on my part. If you don’t have an industrial-sized salt shaker, I suggest you get one before reading further.

1. Nothing will change in the short-term.

IMVU has zero interest in killing its investment off. That means there will be no sudden changes in policy. We might see stronger enforcement of existing, since now FA is owned by a company with real income, leadership, and lawyers, but wide-spread, terrifying change is off the menu for now.

2. Dragoneer’s myriad promises might come true.

No thanks to ‘Neer, who’s been making those promises since 2006, but thanks to the engineers and operators over at IMVU. To say that FA is an out-dated, poorly-run site that’s been leap-frogged by its competitors is to understate things. IMVU has a vested interest in changing that. The most obvious steps are relocating the servers to wherever IMVU is hosting theirs, to reduce overhead. Updating the site’s front-end will attract more users, while rebuilding and porting over the back-end will undoubtedly happen but require more time.

The goal will to make things faster, easier, and more scalable. This comes with the added benefit of reducing costs because IMVU will be running fewer servers with less processing overhead. Running Furaffinity isn’t cheap, but it can and should be cheaper.

3. So many ads it’s like Mad Men in here.

I mentioned in the main article that while IMVU won’t convert all of FA’s user base to the IMVU ecosystem, it can still reach them through advertising. I’m not particularly one for ads on sites, but FA’s internal, hyper-targeted advertising has never bothered me. We’ll probably see it expand, though. Will it remain furry? At least in part, but just because FA is a furry site doesn’t mean there aren’t other things furries are interested in. Expect “metrics” to be a thing.

As a side-point to this side-journal, I think there’s a great potential for artists already advertising on FA. If (big if) IMVU keeps the internal advertising, it might expand it to their site. Not every furry artist draws furry exclusively, and as I said before, IMVU is as much about people’s personal personas as FA is. The opportunity to advertise to a broader but likely just-as-engaged user base is nothing but a boon to those artists.

4. ??? …profit!

My crystal ball doesn’t let me know what IMVU’s long-term goals are here. I wouldn’t be surprised if they branch out into other, similar projects, ones that allow users to be who they want to be. Facerig seems like an obvious choice to me. The purpose would either to become the place to go to for idealized personas, or to leverage their way to a buyout. I’d say fifty-fifty.

Expanding IMVU to include furry (and other!) avatars also looks like an obvious choice that would happen sooner. It would reinforce a push to bring FA’s content creators and users over to the IMVU ecosystem, expand the marketplace, and offer users more options overall. Not bad.

5. Dragoneer will be gone when the contract’s up.

The last point! Dragoneer is an IMVU employee now, but that won’t last forever, and likely only happened in the first place because he managed to force it into the purchase terms. There is no reason to be angry at him for “selling out”: if I were in his shoes I probably would have done the same thing. And to be utterly, painfully fair, running a site of FA’s size is a commendable task.

It’s also utterly, painfully fair to say that ‘Neer’s usefulness as the face of FA ended the moment he stopped owning the site. He puts more foot in his mouth than the Donner party, recruits only the worst possible candidates to work on the site, and hasn’t really done anything to improve the FA experience in nearly a decade. The only reasons to keep him on are contractual obligations and inertia, and neither of those last forever.


Am I abandoning FA? I’ll still lurk there, grab commissions from artists there, and look at and favourite art there. But I already left the site in spirit well before the buy-out happened. Do I think other people should run? The site’s in more capable hands, but I’d keep watching over my shoulder anyway.

Why IMVU buying Furaffinity makes perfect sense (a post nobody asked for)

ahst

22 March 2015 at 10:40:14 MDT

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  • Link

    This is super insightful, thanks for writing it up! I was thinking the other day that if IMVU turns FA more into a marketplace (instead of a gallery) where people can buy commissions through a reliable system, that might make it better than just about any other "furry profile" site out there. Granted, that would probably take a lot of work, but IMVU has the motive and resources for it.

    • Link

      I didn't really discuss what long-term changes IMVU could make to FA (in large part because long-term profit goals on such a relativeley small site make ideas less obvious). The notion of turning FA into a marketplace like IMVU doesn't really make much sense to me. It rubs against FA's grain, and would generally require an entire overhaul about what the site is about: community.

      That said, I think improving ways to find commissioning and streaming artists is in the works. I don't think IMVU will try to take a cut of commissions (because artists will simply offer them elsewhere), but by reinforcing a market mentality they'll likely be able to nudge artists onto other offered services.

      Most likely, there'll be effort into trying to turn FA into "Furry Facebook", which was something it was always trying to be anyway. These days you practically have to have an FA account, and IMVU doesn't want that to change. Increasing the stickiness of the site, and reinforcing the community-based options, would absolutely cement that.

      • Link

        Also: thanks! :D

  • Link

    I've been on the fence about returning to FA for a long while now. This new development is yet another reason to deliberate that decision indefinitely.

  • Link

    Personally, updating the front end is what I'm wary of. I don't want a billion shiny things added for the sole sake of satisfying someone with some OCD about not being able to organize things. As-is, it's simple, basic, and functional.

    Maybe I'm just too stuck in my ways.

    • Link

      It could really go in a lot of ways. If nothing else there'll probably be effort to make the UI much more friendly on a variety of screen resolutions, which means that the site will become mobile and tablet-friendly.

      I typed "more mobile and tablet-friendly" in at first, but FA has never been touch-friendly.

      As for new features and sparkles and whatnot? No clue, and it depends on their long-term plans for the site.

      • Link

        If it becomes more mobile-friendly, that's probably a good thing.

      • Link

        ...but FA has never been touch-friendly.

        ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

        • Link

          O U

  • Link

    Well stated, I could not have said it better myself.

  • Link

    It's a hard thing to predict. For all the reasons you've pointed out, it seems like a smart purchase, but I think people don't realize how xenophobic the furry community is due to being burned by media portrayals in the past. We're told to "not talk to reporters" at conventions, and those that, heaven forbid, go on talk shows are dramatically thrown out of the community for their betrayal.

    A lot of material I read on the fandom makes special note of how we're not tied to any one property like other fandoms. We're a grassroots group, originating as a polyp on the backside of sci-fi conventions before detaching. We generate and feed off of our own content. For how much bleed-over the furry community has with IMVU, IMVU is still not "one of us", and them invading our little safe haven on the web, even if it is as a formless corporate spectre that for the most part keeps its noncorporeal hands off the community, paranoia, parasitism, and a desire to be "pure" will always be an undercurrent to the relationship.

    I daresay we're anti-commercialism, possessing this delusional idea that there is such a thing as making too much money, and even as we yearn for artwork from them, there are grumblings about some of the more popular artists in the fandom, that they charge too much, and should be more considerate to the community. Those particular individuals, of course, should go fuck themselves, but it still goes back to core values we hold as a community. We want our village to be small.

    As it stands, I see it as a contest between xenophobia and the average furry's laziness/short attention span. Some may make it their mission to make IMVU regret their purchase. Others may simply leave, having been searching for a good enough excuse to ditch the abusive relationship. Most will stay, because there's a perception there's nowhere else to go that will let them be themselves, and they tell themselves it's too early to see yet what wll happen, but as soon as IMVU crosses an as-of-yet undefined line, they're gone to an as-of-yet undefined location.

    I, being the cold bitch that I am, maintain that if someon is so ridiculously dependent on a singular primitive web site to make rent, that's their fault for being so niche, and should be a wake-up call that tells them they need to diversify, and, I dunno, learn perspective and how to draw humans. :P

    He found a formula for drawing comic rabbits:
    This formula for drawing comic rabbits paid,
    So in the end he could not change the tragic habits
    This formula for drawing comic rabbits made.

    • Link

      I'm not sure about this, because if FA can literally stop existing for weeks and still be top dog in the fandom, it would take a massive screwup on IMVU's part to drive away the site's users.

      Most tech companies, when they make acquisitions, are smart enough to not kill the geese that lay the golden eggs. But we'll see! If I'm wrong then the fallout is bound to be super funny.

    • Link

      I've been thinking a lot on this post. It's true: furries have been burned before, plenty of times even. And I'm old enough (god, I'm old) to remember things like Burned Fur, Iced Fur, and all that related nonsense. You're right about "popufurs". Once you're big enough to hit critical mass, the haters come out in force.

      At the same time, there's always a celebration and clinging-to of mainstream anthros. We want our village to be small, but at the same time we still want it to be popular.

      As it stands, I see it as a contest between xenophobia and the average furry's laziness/short attention span.

      And it could end up that way. But like Ween said, FA has gone under for internet ages and come back. If you're a betting sergal, I'd lean towards that short attention span. There's a very good reason I said that furries were conservative.

  • Link

    I think it makes sense from Dragoneer's pocketbook perspective, because they offered a better deal. Frankly I continue to be surprised he didn't just burn the site and say 'screw furrydom' in the first place. I definitely would have if I'd been trying hard and getting raked over the coals in the manner that he has.

    So we'll see what happens with IMVU at the reins. There's so much FUD out there, I don't know what to believe anymore.

    For what it's worth, I liked FA's simplicity despite the bugs. It's nice here too, except...people care about my work less here.

    • Link

      It definitely makes sense for Dragoneer's pocketbook. I'm not surprised too that he didn't walk away or raze the site though: he runs the indisputably largest furry site. And while he gets raked over the coals plenty (I think rightfully so), he also has plenty of fans.

      And I agree with you about FA's design. Its simplicity is great, and while I want to see the site modernized, I don't want to see it overloaded with features.

      As for Weasyl, I think it's more a case of there's fewer users, and a lot of content shared with other sites like FA. Why fav or comment twice?

      • Link

        Yeah I see what you mean. But oh my goodness...I have posted pieces that get triple-digit views and comments, and over here...single digits. And I participate in others' stuff too; I don't just post and run. Ah well. We'll see what happens. Frankly if FA just worked better on tablets/mobile that would be friendly.

        I remember last year here I suggested having comic tags like on FA (since I make comics) but I can't seem to find if those were implemented.

  • Link

    "3D dress-up Bratz doll"

    Yes, that sums up the look of those....creatures....that I keep seeing on IMVU's banner ads. Well, your article here is the best, and most rational summary of this whole thing that I've seen yet.

  • Link

    We will see what happens of the future of that website. Personally, I think it's not a big deal that IMVU bought FA. People complain everywhere because furs love drama, it's abig love/hate relationship. Anyways, let's wait a few weeks and most peeps that said that they won't get back on FA anymore will get back.

  • Link

    I think you definitely got it with "affluent." "Furries" as a vague demographic seem to have a whole heap of money to spend on totally impractical and frivolous things, and constantly, beyond the frivolous made-up needs this culture already has us constantly addressing. Etsy is probably too big for IMVU to buy, but furaffinity is indeed easily overlooked. It is non-google-searchable, after eh. But deliberately so, hence the big paranoia.

  • Link

    Yeah, I'd think that a poorly run site with a substantial and loyal user base (it must be considering the first) would be an obvious investment opportunity for a company that had any synergy with it.

  • Link

    I only hope to don't find my characters and concepts as some kind of chinese bootleg transformer like item in the IMVU shop.

    • Link

      That has partly been my fear as well, but as it stands the IMVU store is already awash with stolen art made by it's (mostly) teenage users who have little to understanding of copyright law. Part of me is saying that the FA sale was IMVU's way of attempting to address some of it's issues concerning stolen Intellectual Property, either by (more conspiracy theory) altering the TOS and AUP of FA to favour IMVU, or (more logical theory) allowing FA users to make IMVU store pages to directly sell images and wares to IMVU users. The only issue with the later being that artists will want "real" money, and not the "monopoly" money that the IMVU store works on.

      • Link

        Not that it matters much but there are registered reseller sites of IMVU currency (called credits) that can sell you credits and buy your credits as well (imvusale being one of the best ones I know). So let's say if people do become creators on IMVU and sell their art on IMVU as well as off it they can sell their credits they make in product sales for real currency from registered reseller sites.

  • Link

    I have to admit that this is one of the more levelled, but optimistic things I read in the past few days concerning the (very messy) situation over at FA. That said I have to comment on the later half.

    1. Nothing will change in the short-term.

    Agreed! After all 3 months have gone by and the only real sign of IMVU's direct presence are the occasional (and I mean the very occasional) advert for the service. IMVU don't strike me as super smart types (they've already shown a lack of knowledge about the fandom they've bought into), but they are at least smart enough not to jump in and to start changing things up right away. They is something of "honeymoon period" going on, my worry is what happens when it's clearly over.

    2. Dragoneer’s myriad promises might come true.

    Yep, there are now coding staff working on FA who are sorting out the massive backlog of problems as I type this. It is an upside to be sure given that previous attempts to sort things out have ending up with with scraps, pissed off people, and other morons looking for Neer's favour with little actually being accomplished.

    I do hope that such people though are compensated for the headache that must be sorting out FA's mess of a backend, along with probably having to deal with months of looking at uncomfortable fetish porn. Big cheques and on the house therapy are the things I hope the coders get.

    The only downside is taking a look at IMVU website itself and noting that it looks actually WORSE than FA currently is. I wouldn't get your hopes of the new UI being any good, up.

    3. So many ads it’s like Mad Men in here.

    I don't share your optimism here, while increased advertising is going to happen it will happen in one of three ways.

    1>Hikes in current fee's to advertise internally via FA. Yep this would keep things as they are, but the move to more commercial type of rates would cause a lot of artists (who can't frankly afford a few hundred a month) to stop advertising via FA, and those that do to increase prices to compensate. It's a lose lose situation, where prices only go up in attempt to bring FA into profit, artists leaving due to the cost, and artists NOT getting trade due to the high art mark ups. Eventually FA just shuts because it never breaks even.

    2>They start using commercial advertising agencies. Like IMVU already do, sure it's not furry related, but they will pay more and they will keep the site afloat, or even in slight profit. The problem is that such agencies will not want to deal with a site that caters for a large amount of pornographic material. IMVU/FA could easily get around that by changing the TOS AUP to banning either extreme or fetish content, but remember what happened when FA finally called time on adult cup art? Yeah well amp the effect by 11, it will not go down well.

    3>They start using advertising for the porn industry. Which wouldn't mess with the current state of art allowed on the site, and it would bring in substantial income, however I am sure that there are some artists that will be uncomfortable with such advertising, as well as a number of other users. Along with that IMVU's larger investors (they are a subsidiary of Best Buy Capital apparently) will NOT be happy about effectively running what will become in no uncertain terms a porn site.

    I think most people see increased advertising as the "soft" thing that IMVU will or could do, but the reality is it will be possibly as bad as anything else.

    4. ??? …profit!

    Yep I think not really knowing what they will do is the thing that has everyone on edge. Granted this buy out HAS pushed furry into the mainstream a bit, and that's no bad thing. However they are going to have to change things to make the site a profitable asset, somethings will not bother us, but in all likelihood some will.

    Things will change mark my words, but as for the better or not is something that I am reserving judgement over.

    5. Dragoneer will be gone when the contract’s up.

    Oh I agree, the man is on borrowed time now. Yeah he's an IMVU employee now, and given how good he is at managing things I expect that he will run afoul of IMVU and they will sack him eventually. However the question we must ask is this "When he goes, who takes over?".

    Yeah it's a proverbial case of careful of what you wish for, because whoever takes over the running of FA maybe better or indeed much much worse.

    If IMVU are responsible they will employ someone from within fandom with good communication and management skills (and such people are rare indeed I have to say), or more than likely they will just get someone from within IMVU to deal with FA, and I will let that sink in. Yes as bad as Neer is, he at least knows the fandom, replaced by someone who has no CLUE as to who or what they are dealing with, and at the end of the day only makes even more mistakes that further piss people off no end.

    Yep I am really cynical about this, and at the end of the day I still think people should see this as the beginning of the end for FA, and to start moving to other sites while the going is good.

    • Link

      I wouldn't get your hopes of the new UI being any good, up

      I'm not expecting it to be any better in terms of design than FA currently is, I expect it to be modern as in responsive.

      while increased advertising is going to happen it will happen in one of three ways

      1. The counter to this is that they could simply charge the same rate and reduce the promised length or number of pageviews. This lets the artists who couldn't afford higher rates continue to buy ad space (and thus feed back into the community), while allowing more ads to be squeezed in. This assumes that the market for ad space on FA is fairly competitive, and I have no idea, although I'm sure it came up during discussions with 'Neer.

      2 & 3. An outside ad service could be used, for sure. I don't think [some] marketers are as squeamish about content as you say they are, especially in light of the demographics they're dealing with. I think porn ads are right out for all the reasons you listed. Sites like Hardblush advertise on FA, but they understand who they're selling to, and how to best present their material.

      [Dragoneer] at least knows the fandom, replaced by someone who has no CLUE as to who or what they are dealing with.

      I'm rather bullish on his inevitable replacement, actually. There's no reason for IMVU to replace the current mod system (quality of those mods notwithstanding), because it maintains the community side, and constitutes free labour in dealing with trouble tickets. If anything, there's good reason to reinforce and expand it. Actual site administration is a faceless job unless you choose otherwise. Clearly communicating information and backing the people you delegate work to is all that really needs to be done. The mods are the ones who understand the community and can serve as the grease between the fandom and the corporate side of IMVU.

      If 'Neer's replacement can think before putting two words together, and if at least one half of an ass is used in vetting potential candidates for mods, then they'll already be miles ahead of Our Illustrious Leader.

      I also think there are a greater number of potential candidates in the fandom than you may. Look at the number of successful conventions the fandom runs, for example. There are a lot of cats to wrangle. On top of that, we're ignoring candidates who simply hide their real-world occupations. If IMVU continues to make "FA site admin" a paid position (with Silicon Valley wages!), that could attract some otherwise-silent talent from within the community.

      I still think people should see this as the beginning of the end for FA

      IMVU has an interest in keeping the community involved and healthy, which is why I've been more upbeat than some people about FA's chances. It's perfectly right-headed to worry about what will happen to the site, and yes, IMVU could absolutely strip the site to its bones, but I also pointed out multiple ways that the site could change for the betterment of all.

      Change is coming, no matter what.

      (I wouldn't look to what's happening on FA to judge the site's future, though. Better to keep an eye on how much sites like Weasyl and Sofurry grow over the next few months. If they gain too much momentum, then FA loses the de facto status that's kept it afloat.)

  • Link

    Your write-up does make a good deal of sense! This does seem like a lot of premature panic over not a lot of solid information, but if I"m being honest, I can't say I'm too disappointed about it. I've never liked FA, and if could get by without having to maintain it, I'd be happy to.... I personally find Weasyl to be a much more well designed site with a friendlier, more thoughtful community and atmosphere, so I'm very glad for the new influx of traffic over here.

  • Link

    Damn fine explanation. I was looking for someone with some background knowledge to explain exactly why FA was a good idea.

    To my uninitiated eye (My specialities lying with concrete and asses) it looked like an unexplained deal that could have any number of potential gains to be had at the expense of the community.

    I'd personally hedged my bets on the site starting to take more of a freemium style. Base users keep the same basic functionality, while premium artists might get advertising slots, better upload capacity, perhaps longer on the frontpage, any number of little carrots to dangle.

    Whereas for those of us that have no facility at all with a pencil, perhaps the ability to customise userpages to a much greater extent. Like Myspace just before it went down the shitpan. To be perfectly frank, if the community stayed as it is and I could pimp my profile up to make it neater, better-organized and prettier to look at for ten bucks a month, I'd be sorely tempted.

    Alternatively in the long run, perhaps they could privatise commissions with their own currency just like they do with IMVU itself. Shakes off the whole "Paypal don't do porn" thing, and allows them to maintain the same skim-you-top-and-bottom rates that Paypal use, but the money's going into THEIR pockets, helping to run the site, and nobody's got to worry about Paypal bans and lost revenue, since it'd be coming from the IMVU corporation. Y'know, like money laundering, only legal.

    Definitely interested in seeing where FA goes, though. Either it'll kill the place stone dead and give some of the new boys a better chance, it'll stay much the same as ever except it won't fall apart once a fortnight, or there might be an overhaul to (finally) bring it out of the 1990s.

    Let's wait and see!

    P.S. Let's see Dragoneer get another job with FA on his resumé.

    • Link

      I'd personally hedged my bets on the site starting to take more of a freemium style.

      Funny you should mention longer times up at the frontpage, because this was something I had considered myself. It's an especially tempting carrot, far more than more ad space goes. The ability to customize user pages could be tempting, but doing it for free brings a different benefit: it makes the site stickier, by making users spend that much more time and personal pride on their own user page. I'd argue that's a far greater benefit than any revenue that would come from that being a freemium feature.

      If it was a modular design IMVU could, of course, charge for certain displays.

      Alternatively in the long run, perhaps they could privatise commissions with their own currency just like they do with IMVU itself.

      IMVU funbux are a real trick to work around, so I'm going to put on my guessing hat:

      1. IMVU links become a "how to contact me" option. This seems obvious.

      2. Furries will get an email from IMVU recommending they join the site. The catch will be that if they include a coupon code and tie the IMVU account to their FA account, they get a (possibly significantly larger) bonus on top of the usual sign-up starter fund. This costs IMVU nothing, puts easy funbux into furries' hands, and gives their economy a little push.

      3. A method for buying and trading IMVU funbux will appear on FA. This will reinforce the use of the funbux in the community, making it easier to offload the freebies that people got for signing up. In other words: it prevents hoarding and circulates the funbux, which is important for a working economy.

      4. Freemium features will appear, and can be bought with real money or with funbux. The funbux cost will be a relative discount to the real cash, but of course require users to buy into the economy.

      5. A way to sell off the funbux will appear. The catches being that users won't be able to sell off "freebie" funbux, and the exchange rate won't be nearly on par with buying the funbux. However, since the funbux are now circulating among a number of users, they can be used as a "viable" currency on the site.

      I do not think that IMVU will mandate that commissions happen through any sort of marketplace they set up. No self-respecting artist would allow themselves to be shoehorned like that, and the resulting loss of artists would hurt the site. The goal is to get people to choose to use the funbux, not twisting their arm.

      P.S. Let's see Dragoneer get another job with FA on his resumé.

      "Site administrator with an international, active daily user base in the tens of thousands, and grew it to the point it could sell out to Silicon Valley" is a great item on your resume, furries or not.

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        Good point on page customisation. I just thought that maybe customisable backgrounds/wider choice of folders/maybe ability to restructure your page would all be tempting carrots for the more discerning art whore.

        To be honest, I'd welcome the potential for funbux. Christ knows they've proved that they work on enough features, and o'course nobody can stop your artsy types from going out and taking commissions on their own terms via Paypal or any of those alternatives.

        I had the idea of a commission-searching site that could act as a middleman for transactions by holding the money in escrow until the artpiece was delivered, thus solving a few problems at a stroke. Namely the difficulties with Paypal, no trust issues between artist and commissioner, artists not getting tempted to take way more on than they can handle and then keeping the customer waiting after their payment, no unscrupulous commissioners requesting and then not paying.

        Obviously that wouldn't work, but it'd be nice to see a bit more arbitration in the whole procedure.

        And on the subject of 'neer, he'd be fine riiiight up to the point that they look into how it was run. Whoops. :D

        Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

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          I'd welcome the potential for funbux

          I wouldn't.

          Looking at dA, their point system result in obscene devaluation, both in terms of what artists charge and what potential commissioners offer. Removing real currency removes a real sense of worth. Beyond that, then the onus ends up on the artist to find a way to turn those funbux into real money that they can use to do things like eat and pay rent. IMVU will take their margin on the exchange as well, further cutting into the artists' income.

          It's bad for everyone involved, except IMVU.

          There's no reason IMVU wouldn't allow users to trade goods for funbux, because it's in its best interests to encourage it, but everyone else would get straight-up screwed.

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            Hrm. I suppose we would be at the mercy of inflation/unsecured currency.

            GAAAAAAH

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    There is another reason why a big company would want to buy FA that a lot of people are really ignoring, that is branding and royalties. By owning the the site and thus the name FA they can demand pay each time FA's name is used be it at a con or anywhere else, FA owns those rights and can insist on being paid for the right to use the name anywhere other then the site itself. I have to agree as to the rest of the things you said, I doubt the changes will come quick they will slowly make changes and implement these changes into the sight in such a manner as to be discreet. Its going to be a very interesting development to see how things play out.

    Coding and sight updates

    I mean in all honesty the coding team that runs IMVU's sight is not doing that much better, they may bring some modernization to the sight which we all know it needs, but at the same time if they can not even make their own sight appealing we have to worry about what it means for FA. Will they bring modernization that is crappy and makes the sight feel cheaply made. I know we can not begin to speculate on these things but with IMVU calling the shots its also hard to ignore these facts.

    Art Theft

    Ok, we all know no matter what site you go to art theft is going to happen, If people want to steal the art they are going to. Then, going to sights like IMVU and selling said art is wrong, but as we have clearly stated IMVU is a bunch of teens and they do not care about IP rights. Still yes they are at fault for stealing these things but IMVU's inspection team is just as guilty for letting fully watermarked art pass through unscathed. So far 800 Plus art pieces have been discovered stolen. IMVU is making a big profit on this. Yes the DMCA is free per say, but its a long drawn out mail this form or fax it to us that takes days to weeks to remove the said art, that is making furs not want to trust them.

    The other aspect is banned accounts on IMVU, they tend to be ban happy and kick users at the drop of a hat especially developers. Sad fact is that when they ban an account they do not remove the products the said developer made or uploaded. they continue to sell on their market, and then are making 100% of the profits for said items. This is content theft at its finest, Ban the user make big profits. Just Google IMVU complaints and you will find Dozens of folks that have invested thousands of dollars in IMVU that have been complaining about this very aspect. the only way for them to file a complaint is to create another account start all over and try to get answers. this is not only dirty practices its pure Theft.

    And this is the company that is now the owner of FA and trying to get their Corporate fingers into the community that is in an uproar. I understand that Dragoneer has had a lot on his shoulders but the guy has literally done nothing he promised to do while owning FA. He spoke of transparency for months prior to the sell and the Fund drive that earned 20K. then he sells FA one month after the drive ended. Which by the way to this day the Promised rewards for people who made pledges were never sent out. I Agree that Dragoneer's days are numbered on FA and his bosses will not tolerate his inability to perform properly. that is maybe one of the best things that is coming from this.

    Panderp

    I am not sure if Panderp has the necessary documents, to prove his claim but that is another issue that has been raised, and if he has the documents Many furs want to back him up. Still the burden of proof is his and we will have to see what all comes from that. If he does have a legitimate claim to FA's Site, he very well could put a Kybosh on this entire thing. Regardless that's here say and conjuncture until proven otherwise. I really hope they do not try to put up pay walls and AP blocks on the site.

    DMCA

    I think in some ways this purchase plan was brilliant, Get Furries to create accounts, just to log into adult areas and get their art removed from the site that was stolen. this forces your client base up and then they have to stay to ensure no more gets uploaded. Still DMCA is a long drawn out process and in the mean time the account that stole the art is making a profit and the company is making a profit as well. Not only that but they can outright deny your DMCA and a few furries have already said they were denied and had to start over again. IMVU has a bad reputation for Poor PR and cookie cutter responses to questions, and I think its only fair that Furries be very concerned for the Sight we have been a part of for a long time. I like many do not place all my eggs in one basket, hence I made accounts at Weasyl, Ink Bunny, and So Furry. I intend to watch this event very carefully but I also plan to start spending more times in the other places Such as the previously mentioned locations.

    We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of FA, which would help to diversify and bring these sights, which I think are more modern and classy, more traffic. Thus Making these venues more profitable for artists who will not feel they have to stay on FA as more and more fans starts to create accounts, and follow artists in these sights thus sending a message to the big corporations that they need to be careful when trying to buy into a community. Furries really are a community not a commodity for big corporate businesses to buy into.

    Just my feelings on this whole mess you do not have to agree with them, that is the joy of free speech. Anyway thanks for taking the time to listen to my thoughts on the matter.

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      FA owns those rights and can insist on being paid for the right to use the name anywhere other then the site itself.

      It does, and it could, but that would be self-defeating. For one: who would want to pay for Furaffinity's branding? The site's reputation is, at best: "I'd leave but everyone is here". FA: United is run by FA, so it doesn't need to cover the charges, but I can't see any other conventions paying to use FA's name.

      IMVU wants to make sure people are drawn to the site. Limiting branding by forcing people to pay for it only decreases site awareness. On the other hand, you raise a good point that I hadn't thought of: FA's brand. It needs a lot of work, but IMVU will very likely make moves to improve it. Rather than charging people to use it, though, expect them to be paying, through things like sponsorship and ads.

      but at the same time if they can not even make their own sight appealing we have to worry about what it means for FA.

      I don't think that IMVU will (in the short-to-medium term) try to make FA look more like their site. As I've said elsewhere, I think the work will be done on making it responsive (in the design sense) and touch-friendly. But this is definitely a "who knows" scenario.

      we all know no matter what site you go to art theft is going to happen

      Quoting Katzbalger, it's important to note that art theft has been happening, probably since the start of IMVU. It's nothing new, people are just noticing it now.

      IMVU is making a big profit on [art theft].

      And they will continue to. This isn't out of active malice, but simple, cynical decision making. Policing the site for content that breaks rules for, say, adult content, is easy. Determining if art is stolen or not requires significantly more resources. They will comply with DMCA takedown notices (they have to), and maybe they'll run an internal image-recognition program, but it's really not worth the resources to try and fight it in earnest. Ask any artist how much work it is to find and remove their own stolen artwork. Now imagine you have to police millions of items to do the same.

      This all folds back into the second point I made in the article: if artists can't fight art theft, they can try to move onto IMVU to take the profits for themselves.

      they tend to be ban happy and kick users at the drop of a hat especially developers

      Counterpoint: FA doesn't ban enough. Chase, a mod, is a literal dog-fucker. It took a huge swell of user fury to forbid cub porn. Allan was welcomed back with open arms after sufficient ass-kissing. Since I have no personal dealings with IMVU as far as how ban-happy the site actually is, I can't really make a judgment call, and I don't take user complaints about being banned unfairly at face value, as I've modded sites myself.

      Panderp

      He doesn't have documents. IMVU's lawyers (and they have lawyers) would have thoroughly confirmed 'Neer's ownership of the site before the sale was completed.

      this forces your client base up and then they have to stay to ensure no more gets uploaded

      Users who exist and stay solely to police content are not good users: they do not buy IMVU funbux, they cost bandwidth, and they result in DMCA takedown notices which, dismissed or not, require resources to react to. IMVU wants users who stick around and bring them revenue. Blackmailing users into hanging around the site is not a sound strategy, and I guarantee you is not part of IMVU's business plan for FA.

      which would help to diversify and bring these sights, which I think are more modern and classy, more traffic. Thus Making these venues more profitable for artists

      Absolutely. FA's losses are SoFurry and Weasyl's gains.

      that is the joy of free speech

      This isn't leveled at you specifically, but I've always hated that phrase, just as I hate "agree to disagree". While there are always going to be impasses, I think that in most cases a civil argument can bring about some nice results. Saying things like "that's free speech!" has always felt like putting brakes on the discussion simply because one doesn't feel like having to actually defend their point.

      That's kind of why I'm still here replying to everybody, and at length!

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        Do you know for sure he does not have the documents some are saying he does have them and that he is looking into a actual law suit I mean its not a for sure till we know but its an interesting situation to watch develop as time goes on. If and I do mean If he does I think a lot of furrs would get behind him and back him up on this.

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          By the way I thank you for your reply there is so much going on and a lot to think about. Still thanks for taking the time to respond

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          He says himself he's not sure what documents he has. There may have something, but that doesn't mean that he has legal footing, or that he'll be able to obtain site ownership even if he does have a claim.

          At the same time there's no reason to assume that IMVU's lawyers didn't practice their due diligence, and that the company is on anything but firm legal ground. Speculation beyond that leads me into internet lawyer territory, and I'm not going to wade there beyond saying that from the quick skimming I've done the only person who will absolutely be in hot water either way will be Dragoneer (go figure).

          We'll see what happens.

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            Makes sense and We will see what happens like you said its all speculation at this point unless he finds the evidence and can prove it with enough evidence in court. Still your right More then likely 90% of the back lash would be directly on Dragoneer. though it will be interesting to watch the whole thing play out. still there is a few artists looking to file a class action suit against IMVU. One actually had his art work copyrighted legally and he is rather upset at IMVU I am not sure what will happen there but there is a chance this could get ugly on IMVU.

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    The one thing I'm constantly wondering is, how long until Dragoneer gets fired/demoted?

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      thats a Really good question, will be interesting to watch and see what the answer to that is

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      If we want to get technical about it, he's already been demoted. He no longer owns the site and, no matter what he says, he no longer actually has final say.

      As for when he gets removed from FA entirely? I'd say once the contract is up, but he does have an eerie ability to stick around no matter what.

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        And I say "the contract" like it's a certain thing, but I should be clear: I have no way of knowing if it is or not. Given 'Neer's ego, reputation, and current situation, though, I think it's a safe bet.

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    I'm glad I found your post (at the top of google search nonetheless), a lot of points make me feel optimistically - the potential that is. While I don't have my hopes up that things will turn out for the best I don't imagine the whole thing crashing down either. If the community splits and goes elsewhere then I'm still uploading to all these other furry sites.

    Mostly just that I was thinking of the degree of badnesses that might come from this, all the while not thinking it'll be too awful, but now I've added degrees of unimaginable awesome. You thought of some amazing possibilities. <3

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      (at the top of google search nonetheless)

      !!!

      And thanks!

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        6th from top looking for "imvu bought furaffinity". Breakings news~ XD

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    If anything, I still lurk around on FA because I want to sell some comissions...and unless it was my personal stuff (i.e. stuff for myself, drawings of my fursona done by myself and stuff of mine I would want to exhibit in a fine art gallery) I'd care less if it's "stolen" as it would be my customers' problem now... through I would support them only if they look out for me to do so.
    In fact, while I may sound arrogant...I'd dare to say that my art style is so unique that makes it too easy to tell it was theft... and having my content shared... may or may not double as free publicity. Which is why my only request is to credit me if you share my content.

    Furaffinity being a private entity Dragoneer and the other guys can do whatever the flying fuck they want since in sense it's a "private business". So I say "fuck this, fuck you, do whatever you want with your site but don't get me and my work involved, I'm outta here".

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      and having my content shared... may or may not double as free publicity

      It doesn't. There's never attribution and either a user either recognizes you already, in which case the "advertising" is redundant and doesn't expand your reach, or if someone asks "cool art, where's that from?" there's no way to go back to you.

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        Yeah... there's no way to get to me... then this becomes an issue.

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    I know I'm a little late but I brought popcorn. I am going to move my content and be more active here. I will always love fa for how it put people in my life. I'll still do stuff there but only junk projects and small tutorials. I am going to remove my content there as I feel the ToS will change and I'll no longer be the only one with access to my original content. I used fa for my music, art, and I don't want to lose it for a form of monopoly $. I don't want to pretend I know what is happening, but I know what I want to avoid happening.

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    The day the core commerce of this Fandom is conducted only with the permission and only to the profit of a non-Furry company is the day that being a Furry looses all meaning and the Fandom which we as a culture have built over the course of 30 years ceases to exist. Then it becomes only a fad to be marketed to teens until the fad runs out, and it is trashed. If this Fandom is to survive as an autonomous community we must start to have the discussion NOW about what is ours and how to keep it out. We must start to see ourselves not as a Fandom but as a culture. We must assume a nationalistic intent.

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    Love this, thank you for writing this up! It's very well-written!

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    Thanks for the analysis. I'm still over the site in general, but it's nice to know some people actually think about these things critically and analytically ;D

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    It's gotten alot worse now FA doesn't give us the right to remove our works from our disused or suspended accounts I don't want my works on there anymore I want it taken down for good.

    Even the staff on FA are not doing their jobs probably makes me sick. Im noy against FA but I hate whats going on it.

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    FA will be Shutting Down in the Future and All FurAffinity Users will be Migrated to IMVU!

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      The post is over two years old, and by and large I don't see anything like that happening.

      I need to revisit what I wrote and assess where we stand!

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    Would you be willing to write an update post in the years it's been, see what predictions held up and what didn't?

    Asking because 'dump trucks of money' may be a future solution to the FA problem.

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      I've meant to for the last little while, but I'm not sure if I have many great insights this time around. That post was something of a "right time right mindset" for me.

      One one day! Perhaps soon!

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    It really makes no sense, not to me at least. Why did IMVU buy Fur Affinity? Why did Wix buy DeviantArt? Why do they both allow bullies on their platforms? They're just making them worse.

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      On top of that, they've both started banning innocent people.