Business

Ashley Madison denies shutdown coming and lack of female users

Avid Life Media Inc., the Toronto company at the centre of the data hack of its infidelity website AshleyMadison.com, says reports of its imminent demise are greatly exaggerated, and claims hundreds of thousands of new users have signed up since the breach.

Adultery facilitating website claims 87,596 new female profiles have joined since hack came to light

Almost 90,000 women have signed up to become AshleyMadison.com members since a hack of the infidelity website's user account info came to light, Avid Life Media Inc. says. (Eric Foss/CBC)

Avid Life Media Inc., the Toronto company at the centre of the data hack of its infidelity website AshleyMadison.com, says reports of its imminent demise are greatly exaggerated, and claims hundreds of thousands of new users have signed up since the breach.

"The company continues its day-to-day operations even as it deals with the theft of its private data by criminal hackers," said Avid Life Media, which also owns other related websites. "Despite having our business and customers attacked, we are growing."

Last month, hackers stole email addresses, account information, private messages and billing details for the site's 36 million members. The hackers, known as the Impact Team, have been releasing the information in chunks and demanding the site cease operations.

But that won't happen any time soon, the company insisted Monday.

Far from scaring off new business, AshleyMadison claims 87,596 new accounts have been opened up, by women, in the last week alone.

That's a direct contradiction of a recent report by technology website Gizmodo that said the vast majority of the website's female customers were fake. 

Avid Life disputes Gizmodo numbers

According to Gizmodo, the website boasts more than 31 million male customers, but just 5.5 million female users, and also alleges only about 12,000 of the female users are active members who frequently use the site. Indeed, Gizmodo's analysis of the data released tabulated that only about 1,492 of the female members had ever actually checked a message they received on the site. That compares with 20.3 million men who had done so.

But Avid Life Media said Monday that Gizmodo's numbers are wrong. 

"Last week alone, women sent more than 2.8 million messages within our platform," Avid Life said. " These numbers are the main reason that Ashley Madison is the No. 1 service for people seeking discreet relationships."

But the data hack could still cost the website in financial terms.

The company faces no fewer than four separate class-action lawsuits over the data breach, and IPO plans in London to raise up to $200 million US in a public stock offering may well be shelved amid the firestorm around the company.

Last week, CEO and co-founder Noel Biderman stepped down from the company he has been with since the site first launched in January 2002.

"Recent media reports predicting the imminent demise of Ashley Madison are greatly exaggerated," the company said.

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