OnlyFans CEO Ami Gan Wants to Dispel Misconceptions About the Company

When Amrapali “Ami” Gan became CEO of OnlyFans in December 2021, she wasn’t just stepping into a bigger job than her previous position as chief marketing and communications officer. She was taking the helm of one of the pandemic’s buzziest companies, a creator platform that rose to fame thanks to its liberal content policies and the flock of adult content creators who migrated to its subscription services during a difficult time.

Since its founding in 2016 by former CEO Tim Stokely, OnlyFans says it has paid out over $8 billion to creators—whether they are adult film practitioners, workout coaches, celebrities like Cardi B and Carmen Electra, or any of the other two million people who claim a profile on the platform. OnlyFans claims it has over 200 million users. Unlike other social media platforms, though—where most content is free and the influencers and tech companies behind it make their income through advertisements or sponsored content—OnlyFans has a different approach. OnlyFans receives a 20% share of subscription fees. Users have to pay individual subscriptions.

That might seem steep, but to Gan, it’s simply the price of doing business in an industry in which the platform must incur high costs to meet safety protocols. OnlyFans, a London-based company, employs more than 1,000 workers, of which Gan claims that over 80% are focused on content moderating and support. And many of the creators aren’t complaining: more than 1,000 of them have earned over $1 million each, OnlyFans reports.

“We’re a unique organization, because we are the most inclusive platform, allowing a range of creators, including adult creators, to have a safe place to share their content,” Gan says. That wasn’t always the case; a year ago, in August 2021, OnlyFans announced a ban on explicit content due to what Stokely said were banking restrictions. After significant backlash by creators, the ban was swiftly reversed and Stokely was forced to resign. Gan will soon take his place as CEO. “I’m very proud to represent this community, and to be able to provide opportunities to our creator community that are not available elsewhere,” she says. “I think that we’re still at just the beginning of what this platform is.”

Gan spoke with TIME about how the company approaches online safety, misconceptions about the business, and her plans to grow OnlyFans’ streaming platform.

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This interview has been edited to be more concise.

From OnlyFans, you came from a background in marketing and communication to become the CEO. Also, you worked previously in a Los Angeles cannabis café. What’s been the most surprising part of your transition into the CEO role over the past year?

OnlyFans’ disruptive approach to business is demonstrated by my leadership of the company. We’re not a traditional business. I was doing so much behind the scenes before being appointed to this role that internally, everyone was like, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ I’ll never forget when the executive announcement came out towards the end of December, I don’t think any of us expected it to be as big of news as it was. But we’re OnlyFans; there’s an added spotlight on everything we do. It was just one of the most overwhelming things, where you’re getting this outpouring of positive comments and sentiments. The most important thing was the messages that I received from our creators. I really took everything to heart, because they felt like, Oh, here’s someone that I can identify with who will have my back.

You are an unusual leader in tech: you’re a woman of color in a space traditionally run by white men. And you’re leading a company that often works with women who are disenfranchised by traditional industry structures. Was it a privilege to assume this leadership role?

I’m someone with a non-traditional background, but someone who also has a very strong point of view. I’ve been passionate about getting to know our community and getting to see how the business has been a disruptor for the creative economy and the adult entertainment industry.

What have you done to address safety concerns?

There’s been a lot of misconceptions publicly about OnlyFans—who we are and who’s running this company. Honestly, most people don’t even know what the business is, because they’re reading tabloid-type headlines. Our business model isn’t the same as big tech companies. It’s very straightforward: we have our 80-20 split, and we’re an 18-and-over creator platform. And ultimately, it’s up to the creator to decide what types of content they feel empowered sharing. As long as they are over 18 and follow our terms of service, we are proud to be an inclusive home for a range of creators, which includes adult creators, glamor models, music artists, sports professionals—really across the board, which I think is so cool.

Most people are not aware that safety is the core of every business. To be an online safety leader is one of my main goals. We have an anonymity policy on this platform, so we don’t know anyone. That prevents against bots, trolls, some of that noise that you’re getting elsewhere. The creator verification process is very strong. To sign up as a creator, one must submit their first and last names, email addresses, social media links, and a photograph of an ID. A photo of the ID should also be provided. A third-party biometric scan is performed, as well as third-party ID verification. In the United States, you will need to submit a W9 form, which includes your social security number. Before a person can be approved as a creator, all of these are reviewed by humans. A lot of people don’t know this, but over 50% of people who apply are rejected, because we’re asking for so much information.

Also, we have very strict content moderation. Everything on OnlyFans, we see it, we’re able to view it, moderate it, and make sure that everyone is following our terms of service. We do make use of automated tools to rank content but ultimately all site content is reviewed and approved by human beings.

Also, we’re subscription based. Every content is protected behind a paywall. Harassment and bullying are unacceptable. It’s very easy for a creator to block someone and report them, making the platform even safer for creators to engage with their fans. And we’ve also launched our safety and transparency center this year.

Is there anything that people are still wrong about OnlyFans. In the past, adult content was a hot topic. Have you attempted to convince people that this is no longer the case?

A lot of people don’t realize that we are a safe platform. But that’s where I strive to be a leader, and also a leader in having an inclusive platform, meaning that I’m very proud to embrace our adult content creators, and also all of our other creators.

I’ve been very personally excited to see the range of creators, especially in the past year, that have been able to thrive on OnlyFans and call it home. For example, Carmen Electra—she’s a name everyone has heard throughout the years, and she just turned 50. Her launch with us was such a huge news story, I found it incredible. The way she was talking about OnlyFans, it’s like, Oh, I finally have control of my image. I’m my own boss. Even I was kind of taken aback by that, because here’s someone who’s had multiple decades of a career in the entertainment industry, and they just now feel like they have that control over their image. That’s exceptional.

Previously there were influencers, and now everyone’s a creator. And they’ve realized that their content, their personality—that’s what’s valuable. So they’re looking at how they can monetize that and connect directly with their community. That’s where OnlyFans comes in. OnlyFans was an original platform.

OnlyFans was a company that existed prior to the creation boom. However, it flourished in the midst of the epidemic. Zoom was just one example of many companies that took advantage of remote work. Although most people are back to their normal lives, there is still some resistance from these companies to maintaining momentum. What are your plans for OnlyFans in the next decade?

We actually haven’t seen any sort of slowdown in terms of subscribers or creators. We’re continuing to grow as a business overall. It’s a sign of the power that connection can bring. That’s what OnlyFans is providing, a safe place where you’re not getting the noise of ads and algorithms. There’s a lot of barriers to seeing people’s content these days, but we’re doing it differently. We are part of what’s called the gig economy, but I don’t think of it as the gig economy. I think of it as people finding ways to do something they’re passionate about.

Growing is my priority. I see a lot of global growth; Latin America, for example, is a market that I’m looking at, as a huge opportunity for us. OFTV [OnlyFans TV] is a huge priority I’ve been personally investing time in; it’s a streaming platform, available exclusively to creators to submit content to, and it is widely available on like Apple and Roku smart TVs, and because of that it’s all safe-for-work content. It’s given creators a way to share more about who they are and create their own shows, with a range of content from blogs to cooking shows to workout videos.

But we’ve also been developing our own original content, like our OnlyFans Creative Fund: Fashion Edition, which was a reality-style competition. Real prizes were awarded to the winner, as well as feedback and mentorship from Rebecca Minkoff. We recently announced a partnership with The Sims family, U.K. celebrities. They were also on an earlier reality TV series. [“The Only Way Is Essex”], and they didn’t really have control over what was said about them. They wanted a fresh opportunity. That’s where we came in.

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Your biggest challenge during tenure It has been a learning experience.

It’s still the misconception of the business. Or that we don’t embrace our adult creators. Those are two things that I’m actively working to change. The adult community hasn’t necessarily felt that support in the past. I’ve been very outspoken about embracing our adult creators. My OnlyFans account is my personal. I can see the activity of other creators and follow them. I also have the ability to send messages and connect with them.

Concerns about privacy and primacy of algorithmic streams have landed other tech platforms in serious trouble. Just take a look at Insta this week. What is the best way to differentiate yourself from other creator networks? Is there a value-add to OnlyFans?

OnlyFans is the new future of social media because we’re different. First, we’re safety focused. We are different than all the other tech platforms that make money from data and ads. The 80-20 split is our business model. We don’t make money unless our creators make money. Subscriptions remove the frustrations that people have on these platforms.

My belief is that the future will be both free and paid social media. But it’s really about creators having control. Others have taken this away from creators.

Which qualities do you believe you have contributed to OnlyFans as both a leader or as an individual?

I’m a very relatable person. You have business leaders that went to fancy Ivy League schools; they’re not approachable. I’m the exact opposite. Everyone knows they can reach me internally. It’s a pleasure to meet our creators. I regularly message many of them via the platform. That shows.

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