Bianca shacks up with Nerve

Smut meets erotica: Legendary Web hangout to be acquired by literary sex zine.

Published May 12, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

After testing the waters with other suitors, Bianca, the alternative online community that got its start as a "Smut Shack," is throwing its lot in with the online magazine Nerve. Together the two say they will create a "niche portal."

"Nerve and Bianca share the belief that sex is an inexhaustible topic of conversation," said Rufus Griscom, CEO of Nerve, in a Tuesday press release announcing his company's acquisition of Bianca.

Bianca is one of the original Web communities; it was founded in 1993 by David Thau (Wired Digital's senior scientist) and Christopher Miller, who have painstakingly tended to the 10 "shacks" that house discussions on art, "smut," hardware and more. Despite the undying loyalty of its fans -- and a current membership of about 1.5 million -- Bianca has always been strapped for cash. Less than a year ago, Bianca was prepared to sell itself to Zapata, a Texas company that made its money in fish meal before turning to the Net -- but that deal, perhaps fortuitously, fell through.

Nerve -- which is not one to shy away from erotic photos or a rabbi's guide to kosher sex -- may be the perfect match. "On Bianca, people are free to talk about anything: hobbies, technology, religion and, of course, sex," Bianca CEO Thau said in the announcement. And that won't change with the acquisition. The two entities will retain their separate names and identities, but continue to share their sensual sensibilities.

And they will start their relationship with at least some money in the bank: Nerve recently closed a $1 million round of private financing, with help from the likes of Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, Wired founder Louis Rossetto and Razorfish co-founder Craig Kanarick.

By Kaitlin Quistgaard

Kaitlin Quistgaard, Salon's former technology editor, writes frequently about the arts and South America, where she once lived.

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