When Stephen Michael Cohen took control of the domain Sex.com in October 1995, he could never have imagined how it would turn out. He ran the biggest porn site on the Internet during the extraordinary dotcom boom and made millions of dollars as a result; a fortune he then ruthlessly turned against his competitors to build up a business empire. But there was a problem. He didn't own Sex.com. He had stolen it. And the real owner wanted it back.
If it hadn't been for Gary Kremen's extraordinary resilience, Stephen Cohen would still be in charge of the most valuable domain in the world. But Kremen was as stubborn as Cohen is cunning and fought him through the law courts and outside for over a decade to get his hands on the domain and force Cohen to be punished for his crime. He got the domain back but he is still chasing Cohen for the $65 million he was awarded in court. The story of Sex.com is about much, much more than cash however...
What is the story of Sex.com?
It is a modern retelling of an ancient tale - a Trojan war for the digital age, except with Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, replaced by the world's most seductive internet address. It reveals in the most raw manner what men will do - and are capable of doing - when confronted with their most basic desires of sex and power. It also uniquely touches on several of the big issues of our time: the ready availability of previously restricted material, including hardcore pornography, thanks to the Internet; the undiluted power of twenty-first-century companies; and the ability of the law to deal with the extraordinary speed and growth of digital technology. The story is at the same time both hugely complex and remarkably simple. The twists and turns of the fight has eaten in the two men's every waking hour. A book five times the size as this would still not find room to include all the fine details. Two men can throw up a hell of a lot of dust in ten years. Neither have been able to let the matter drop. Having invested so much of their lives to the fight, they would rather die that do anything the other would consider victory.
The real detail
But this is just the start and the end-point of this tale. In between and along the way, there was civil war in the sex industry; drug addiction; gunfights; private investigators; powerful and ruthless lawyers; international offshore bank accounts; lies, scams, double-deals, back-stabbing, death threats.
The story of Sex.com will show human nature in all its majestic glory and all its disgraceful depths. It isn't pretty and it isn't simple; it is raw, blistering and painful. And yet despite the struggle and the battling, it pulls into focus a glorious time in the history of mankind - the introduction of a new electronic medium that has already changed our lives and will continues to do so long into the future- the Internet.