“An engrossing microcosm of the internet’s Wild West years” (Kirkus Reviews), award-winning journalist David Kushner tells the incredible battle between the founder of Match.com and the con man who swindled him out of the website Sex.com, resulting in an all-out war for control for what still powers the internet today: love and sex.
In 1994, visionary entrepreneur Gary Kremen used a $2,500 loan to create the first online dating service, Match.com. Only five percent of Americans were using the internet at the time, and even fewer were looking online for love. He quickly bought the Sex.com domain too, betting the combination of love and sex would help propel the internet into the mainstream.
Imagine Kremen’s surprise when he learned that someone named Stephen Michael Cohen had stolen the rights to Sex.com and was already making millions that Kremen would never see. Thus follows the wild true story of Kremen’s and Cohen’s decade-long battle for control. In The Players Ball, author and journalist David Kushner provides a front seat to these must-read Wild West years online, when innovators and outlaws battled for power and money.
This cat-and-mouse game between a genius and a con man changed the way people connect forever, and is key to understanding the rise and future of the online world.
“Kushner delivers a fast-paced, raunchy tale of sex, drugs, and dial-up.” —Publishers Weekly
Journalist Kushner (Alligator Candy) delivers a surprising, cockeyed history of the internet's early days through the entangled stories of two of its early innovators: Gary Kremen, "the father of online dating" and founder of Match.com, and Stephen Michael Cohen, an internet visionary, pornographer, and con man. Their precedent-setting battle over a single highly lucrative domain name, Sex.com, began in 1994 and involved absurdist legal proceedings Cohen showed up to one deposition with his glasses broken so he could not read any documents placed before him and Kremen's road trip through Mexico to prepare for seizing Cohen's assets there, which proved to encompass both a seedy Tijuana strip club and a shrimp farm in a bucolic small village. Interspersed between these exploits, Kushner adds historical context about the development of online culture during the 1990s. Brief vignettes describe key moments in internet history, such as the launch of Mosaic, the first popular web browser, and the advent of rampant file sharing through Napster and similar sites. Kushner thus delivers a truly unexpected history of the internet and its growing impact on everyone's lives. Forgoing dry tech-speak, Kushner delivers a fast-paced, raunchy tale of sex, drugs, and dial-up.