Paul Carr and NSFWCorp. Raise $250,000 to Continue Insulting Porn Stars and Pretending Print Journalism Isn’t Buried

 
 
 

Paul Carr is a former TechCrunch writer who is best known for his self-revealing books about quitting drinking and living in hotels.  His podium-thumping PandoDaily op-eds on the changing media landscape are funny, but have a tendency towards dusty nostalgia for a past he was never apart of (he’s only 33, after all), and economics he doesn’t fully explain. He also has a passion for insults, using such colorful British language as “gurning numbskulls” on Twitter opponents and regularly referring to his readers as “you fuckers.”

Not the sort of even-handed leadership you’d expect in the new-media driver’s seat, but that hasn’t stopped Carr from trumpeting his publication NSFWCorp — based in Las Vegas — as “the future of journalism.” Earlier this week, Carr raised $250,000 from Base Ventures to expand NSFWCorp. into a print publishing arm for both non-fiction and novels, according to the Wall Street Journal, in addition to a previous round of $640,000 from Tony Hsieh’s Vegas Tech Fund, CrunchFund, and Judith Clegg. For the time being, millionaires will continue to bankroll Carr and his band of “interesting drunks,” and the NSFWCorp. team will hopefully continue to drop their burn rate, which was just under $25,000 in April.

NSFWCorp. has a particularly unique business model — a mix of a poreless paywall, a donation option called the ‘Conflict Tower,’ and a print copy delivered to all subscribers. To the extent that Carr thinks legacy media is digging its own grave, he is as ‘new media’ as any BuzzFeed employee. However, unlike his millenial brethren, Carr is dead-set on delivering a print product, and tells the Wall Street Journal that, “I’ve never understood the myth that ‘doing print’ would bankrupt you as a [news organization].”

Perhaps NSFWCorp’s most well-traveled story is “Marcus London Ain’t Someone U Fuck With,” a profile by sex and science editor Leigh Cowart which resulted in the porn star threatening physical violence against NSFWCorp.’s staff via Twitter. You can find all three parts on Longform here — the graphic sex descriptions are, frankly, excessive, but NSFWCorp. seems to be comfortable waving the flag of alt-journalism rather than ‘mainstream weekly.’

I’m skeptical and actually pretty offended by Carr, particularly his blithe dismissal of the experiments media companies pull to stop their bleeding cash flows. To this end, I think Carr’s startup ambitions are an extension of his self-destructive alcoholism — there’s no better way to seed your own annihilation than taking investor money to publish a lewd, scattershot-topic print publication.

An average local newspaper does not have the resources to take VC funding, but Paul still finds it necessary to mock the “really, really stupid strategy” of the Charleston Post and Courier’s metered paywall. In his own, journalist-y way, Paul seems to live under a privileged Silicon bubble, or as Dan Mitchell referred to in the San Francisco Weekly, ‘the tech-blog circle jerk.’

Paul has already defended himself against accusations from NYU Professor Clay Shirky, who suggested that NSFWCorp. is a lucky benefactor of Tony Hsieh’s Vegas ambitions, and I don’t doubt the company struggles with the existential daily grind of any startup. However, I’m going to go ahead and reiterate Shirky’s point — NSFWCorp. is lucky. It’s an experiment. And as long as Carr remains inanely self-confident that the “future of journalism” only has one route — which happens to look exactly like the old route — it will be hard to sympathize with whatever financial fate may befall NSFWCorp.

Or, to end on Carr’s quote to the Wall Street Journal: “It’s amazing something that used to be really f—ing obvious is now a revolutionary business model.”

Good luck, Paul.