From Porn to Bibles to Puppies

Brad Stone writes for the New York Times:

TRIBUTES on the Web site of Richard J. Gordon‘s company strike all of the uplifting chords one would expect of a digital maverick. He is described as a “trailblazing businessman” who is “operating in the front ranks of those transforming the Internet into the global marketplace of the future.”

There is an echo of truth in all of this. Though most Internet buffs have probably never heard of him , Mr. Gordon, 62, played a significant role in the birth of electronic commerce. While Amazon.com and eBay were still fledgling enterprises, the companies that Mr. Gordon founded in the early 1990s were already laying the groundwork for electronic transactions conducted with credit cards — a development that opened the doors to the first generation of e-commerce start-ups.

And if the Internet is for porn, as the hit Broadway show “Avenue Q” asserts, perhaps it was only natural that many of Mr. Gordon’s early clients were purveyors of X-rated entertainment.

While riches were being minted and squandered in the dot-com ’90s, Mr. Gordon made a fortune by taking a commission for processing sales on a range of sites from small, mainstream retailers to others like ClubLove, which published the Pamela Anderson-Tommy Lee sex tape. Today, his payment processing company continues to have roots in the world of sexual entertainment. One of the several companies he owns or operates, Processing Solutions, facilitates credit card transactions for the Web sites of DTI, or Dial Talk International, according to current and former employees familiar with the arrangements.

DTI is based on the Caribbean island of Curaçao and runs, from Los Angeles, a vast and profitable network of explicit Web sites for the Japanese market.

As the Web has evolved since the early days of e-commerce, so has Mr. Gordon. Although he fashioned his early career around credit card transactions and helping Internet pornographers, he has more recently adopted an ecumenical approach to business as the shepherd for an altogether different endeavor: a Christian charity.

Until last week, Bold New World, his Los Angeles-based Web design firm, had a lucrative contract to design sites for the American Bible Society — the 192-year-old philanthropy based in Manhattan whose mission is to make a Bible available to every person in the world.

Bold New World has also created the Web site for a charity called SPCA International, which fights animal abuse; it helps members of the armed forces bring dogs home from Iraq. That charity has been stirring controversy in the animal-rights world because it owns no animal shelter and is unaffiliated with older and more established societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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