Gaypon Wars Continue as Gaypon.com Gets a Makeover
|A new look|
Snitch readers may recall last week's tale of how Gaypon cofounder Robert Graham wanted to buy the domain for his new company, but found that Gaypon.com already belonged to movie producer Kari Bian since 2001.
Graham's Gaypon (DailyGaypon.com) is a Michigan-based company that, much like Groupon, offers daily deals -- but from gay-friendly companies.
Bian's Gaypon, as it appeared last week, was a bare-bones gay dating site featuring a picture of Shakespearean director Sir Gregory Doran and actor Sir Anthony Sher at their civil partnership ceremony. Oddly, its homepage also looked like Groupon's.
Graham said he believed Gaypon.com was never a legitimate business; rather, Bian developed it into a dating service after Graham expressed interest in purchasing the site in January.
As a direct result of SF Weekly's story, Bian has reimagined Gaypon and gone for a more minimalist design. The site now promotes religious tolerance and prompts people to purchase Bian's 2008 movie David & Fatima, in which Academy Award-winning actor Martin Landau stars.
Bian told SF Weekly his lawyer advised him to dissolve the dating component of the site, as our story would probably do irreparable harm to his fledgling business. He said he has since refunded 30 memberships.
Bian maintains that he never meant for his site to bear a likeness to Groupon, despite sharing the same graphics and color scheme.
"It's totally a different thing," he said. "100 percent -- different everything."
He said, on the contrary, he didn't want to attract comparisons, and that his web designer, unbeknownst to him, must have drew on Groupon for inspiration.
"I put a legitimate website up, I was trying to make money, and then somebody can come along from nowhere, copies Groupon, calls it Gaypon, and that's okay," Bian said. "Don't connect me with Groupon. Connect Robert with Groupon, who wants to buy the domain because it sounds similar."
Graham wrote in an e-mail that Gaypon "never was about ripping off Groupon. We will never be as big as Groupon, nor do we want to be. Some businesses don't make stomping out discrimination a top priority, and not every person is as open minded as it takes to be a Gaypon subscriber."
Bian rejected Graham's suggestion that "Gaypon.com" was originally purchased as a play on "Gayporn," and said his girlfriend came up with the idea after riffing on the word "pond."
Bian said he rejected several of Graham's offers for the site. He was willing to sell for $17,500, but Graham wasn't buying.
Since then, Bian said he has no plans of selling the site to Graham, who, in turn, plans on suing for cyber piracy -- buying up sites for the purpose of reselling them for exorbitant prices. Bian has relinquished domains in the past to Fox Group Legal following arbitration over the sites "foxchannel.com" and "alienmovies.com."
Groupon has not responded to interview requests, so there is no telling which Gaypon it dislikes more.