It has created a business both gay enough for San Francisco and buttoned-down enough for Wall Street."These folks at Planet Out didn't get into this business to become overnight millionaires," said Jerry Colonna, a J. Morgan partner who sits on Planet Out's board of directors and was its first major investor."They did it because of a deep and abiding passion for creating a successful gay-owned business — and proving that being gay-owned doesn't necessarily mean not successful."Headquartered in San Francisco's Financial District, in corporate digs that once housed The Gap's online division, Planet Out Partners is the result of Gay.com's 1999 acquisition of competitor Planet "It's generally expected that if I am a woman, then I should be looking for a man.So how do you approach someone who you have never met and find out what their sexual preference is without getting beat up?Tom Shales of The Washington Post agrees: “On the surface it would seem like a healthy development, on the grounds that visibility is healthy.” However, with this praise Shales adds a note of concern that’s common among many who hear of the straight twist.“We don’t know how much ridicule or derision is going to be a part of it,” he says, “so a lot depends on how it’s done, whether it’s going to be leering or above board.” Airing in July and August, Boy Meets Boy is hosted by Extra’s Dani Behr and was shot in May in Palm Springs, Calif.At the height of the dot-com boom, Lowell Selvin ran an Internet company with a Web site boasting 2.5 million registered users — an audience surveys showed was both trendsetting and unusually loyal.Yet as often as not, Selvin came away empty-handed in meetings with potential investors.
With its reach and specialized audience, the company has more in common with broadcasters like Black Entertainment Television or Spanish-language network Telemundo than fellow Internet portals like women-oriented i Village or the now defunct Third Age, which targeted seniors, says Chief Financial Officer Jeff Soukup.
“What was amazing about James and Andra right from the start was their rapport,” notes supervising producer Kirk Marcolina.
“They were finishing each other’s sentences right from the get-go and really had that relationship we were looking for.” This dynamic, so indicative of the relationships of many gay men and their straight women friends, should help provide a hook for straight viewers while giving the show some oomph. “Andra was the voice behind many of the decisions,” he says. If she wanted me to have a one-on-one date with a specific mate, I did.” And if Andra’s presence isn’t enough to be a cold shower for the mates, the only physical connection allowed on Boy Meets Boy is kissing.
The popularity of its dating services helped shield Planet Out when advertisers slashed their spending, something that spelled death for many Internet startups.
Today, 60 percent of its revenue comes from a subscription-based personals service, launched two years ago, that allows prospective daters to check out each other's profiles and chat.