Pornhub owner MindGeek bought by private equity firm

An Ottawa-based private equity firm is buying MindGeek, the company behind the popular but controversial online pornography website Pornhub.

The terms of the purchase by Ethical Capital Partners are not being publicly disclosed.

MindGeek, which was founded in Montreal in 2004 and is now headquartered in Luxembourg, includes a large portfolio of adult entertainment properties.

It has been the subject of several high-profile lawsuits in recent years, in light of media reports alleging that Pornhub published sexually exploitative videos. The site deleted millions of explicit videos in response to the scrutiny.

One California lawsuit representing 50 women, including several Canadians, said that Pornhub knowingly released and profited from videos of them that were published without their consent. The suit was settled in October 2021.

Ethical Capital Partners said in a Thursday news release that it will support MindGeek by furthering its research and adoption of the best available online safety protocols, adding that the company “must play a leading role in the fight against illegal content across the internet.”

WATCH | Mindgeek sued by victims of sexual exploitation:

The company behind PornHub sued by victims of sexual abuse

Dozens of women are suing the Montreal company behind Pornhub, one of the most visited websites in the world. None of the allegations have been proven in court, but the lawsuit alleges the company is run like an “organized crime family” and profits from the exploitation of women.

Mastercard and Visa stopped allowing their cards to be used on the Pornhub site in 2020 amid concerns that they were facilitating access to sexually exploitative material.

The company was also the subject of an investigation by Canada’s federal privacy watchdog after testimony from women who said Pornhub brushed off their efforts to have the videos taken down.

When asked in an interview with CBC News whether ECP acquired Mindgeek at a discounted price due to its legal troubles, partner Solomon Friedman said the company saw “great value.”

He said that the firm will work to keep young people safe and protect intimate images, as well as treat “all who participate — content creators and users — with respect [and] dignity, ensuring full, voluntary, informed consent.”