Name and Current Title?
Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, Canada. Class of ’95.
What is Ashley Madison, and what’s it all about all about?
AshleyMadison is a dating service for married/attached people. It works much like a traditional singles-dating service in that you sign up, create a profile and then search for someone who possibly possesses the criteria that you desire.
The only difference is that the majority of people on AshleyMadison are not necessarily seeking a new relationship. Rather, they are seeking the physical intimacy that is lacking from their current relationship. In summary: They are looking for a little something on the side.
Who are your customers?
Our customers come from all walks of life—infidelity crosses all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. We do, however, focus our advertising on mediums like television and satellite radio, which allows us to attract a more sophisticated, educated, high-income member base. Lawyers and bankers seem to be our largest professional groups.
The women on the service really fall into three different groups: 1) The soccer mom/desperate housewife who feels totally under-appreciated in her current relationship; 2) the quintessential mistress who is not interested in settling down and getting married; 3) young, attached/married women who either feel that the man they are currently with is not the man they can stay with for the rest of their lives, or that they have made a mistake in getting married, but before they get any deeper, they are seeking what else might be out there waiting for them.
We do, of course, have a large percentage of men who are best described as having the proverbial seven-year itch.
You make infidelity sound frighteningly legitimate, but some people would call AshleyMadison a website for home-wreckers. What do you tell them?
Infidelity has been around a lot longer than AshleyMadison.com (to hear some detractors you would think that we invented infidelity). Infidelity is part of the human condition. We are not going to convince anyone in a 30-second television ad or a 60-second radio spot to have an affair. That is a decision they come to based on their own life circumstances. What we are saying is that if you have decided to step outside of your relationship, don’t have an affair at work and risk losing your job as well, don’t go on a singles-dating site and lie about your marital status, and don’t break the law and seek out a prostitute.
Did your business spike after Eliot Spitzer got busted with an escort?
We published an open email to Eliot Spitzer in the New York Post. As a result, we were all over print, television and radio talking about his “mistake.”
Are you married? How often do people ask you that when they find out what you do?
I invariably get asked that question, and the answer is yes, I am married with two beautiful children. I think it is important for people to understand that this is not some kind of crusade or personal outlet for me. Running Ashleymadison is truly a business enterprise that came about after some great research that indicated that 30 percent of people on traditional singles-dating services were attached and using the anonymity of the web to lie about their marital status.
My feeling is that what we are doing at AshleyMadison is cannibalizing behavior that already takes place (whether that be the workplace affair or some other avenue). Our intent is to migrate that behavior to AshleyMadison where it is most appropriate and better understood.
How did you find yourself in the infidelity business?
It’s a long road to becoming the king of infidelity. Truthfully, I met my partner in crime, Darren Morgenstern, through a real estate venture, and somehow I woke up one morning and found myself in the arms of a very demanding “mistress” called AshleyMadison.
We hear you’re known as the Jerry Maguire of Lebanon from your days at Interperformances. How does one get that title?
That is the title I am most proud of. It stems from my first career (and true love) as a basketball agent. I had the pleasure of working with some incredible people around the world and was able to combine my lifelong passion/love for basketball with my legal training. I would not trade that experience for anything, except for maybe a night with Scarlett Johansson. (Oops, I believe she is married now.)
Judging from the comments on Bitter Lawyer, lawyers seem like an intensely horny, under-sexed bunch, including the married ones. Is there something about the profession that makes it more prone to infidelity?
I think that law is a very challenging field, demanding in so many ways. But the most demanding element may just be the vast amount of time lawyers tend to work. When you work that hard you really want to come home and be appreciated. Your window for enjoyment is so limited before you have to get back at it. If you are coming home and finding that you have a whole new set of hurdles and challenges on the home front to navigate, I think you are going to find that, in short order, you become burnt out.
We tend to rejuvenate ourselves with a two-week vacation, but truthfully, we need much more than that. We need an understanding partner, we need physical intimacy, we need variety and laughter. The bottom line is, if you’re not getting those things at home, and you’re working like a maniac, you are going to find someone else who will make you happy. They call it the law of attraction for a reason.
When you talk about Ashley Madison, it’s almost as if you’re building a case, bringing dispassionate, reasoned analysis to a taboo issue. Has your legal training helped you change the way people think about infidelity?
Good marketing is often about building a case for your product. In this instance, our product is very controversial, and so you have to begin your “argument” in a staged approach. For a lot of important social issues there is compelling and worthwhile research that needs the proper dissemination, and truthfully the creators of the research are not always the best people to articulate their findings. Nor is the media, or (even worse) a politician, an appropriate champion.
Often times you find that businesses, whose motivations are the most transparent, are the ones best suited and most heavily invested in messaging a paradigm change (which often equals a business opportunity). I may not convince those who believe infidelity is “wrong” to start believing that it is “right,” but I am positive that I have helped people accept that it is part of the human condition, and that if we start asking the question “why” people cheat, we might find some interesting answers.
Do you get a lot of hate mail?
I get a much greater show of support than I do detractors. I am positive that a number of your readers out there truly love and care deeply for their partners, but they are miserably unhappy with their sex lives. Their children, their home, their friends and extended family life are way too important for them to even consider altering (let alone abandoning), and so they continue to be unhappy. But I am not so sure that is at all fair, and in our opinion, they should not have to suffer anymore. That is what Ashleymadison is for.
We can’t let this slide. Your name is Noel Biderman. Did you ever consider yourself a bitter lawyer?
I’m 100 percent as bitter as they come. What I like to jokingly tell people critical of my current role is that my mother is finally proud of her son’s career. After all, I used to be a lawyer.