A self-professed geography-loving computer nerd, Eric Matis is now the ringleader of Playboy Enterprise’s online adult products.
Matis, who holds the title of vice president of adult programs in industry relations, and his company, ICS Entertainment, a division of Playboy, will oversee the creation of exclusive product for seven different Playboy branded sites, including Adult.com, Reality Cash, and Club Jenna.
Additionally, Matis heads four separate adult webmaster programs, which run and manage all the affiliate marketing for those sites; one for Playboy webmasters; as well as industry webmaster board GFY and the Webmaster Access trade shows.
“It includes all the adult products, but not Playboy.com,” said Matis. “The only thing that’s really Playboy-related is the Playboy webmasters affiliate product.”
Playboy purchased ICS in September of 2005 with the intent of establishing itself in the hardcore side of the adult industry.
“This all fits into Playboy’s scheme of things essentially because Playboy wants to run and live in the adult online world,” said Matis, who formerly held the title of ICS Entertainment VP of marketing and industry relations. “Playboy.com has centerfolds, cyber girls, that type of thing. What we did with Playboy webmasters is we broke it down into niches. We’ve got Hot Housewives, Busty Babes, Fresh Faces — we broke it down into specific niches — and then we find girls that are super-hot and will only work for Playboy. These girls fit inside of these specific niches and we run with that.”
Originally from Long Beach, Calif., Matis attended California State University, Long Beach, where he supplemented his income by working a variety of sales and marketing jobs while pursing a degree in geography.
“I’ve sold just about everything,” he said. “So when I got into the adult industry it was easy because I was naturally a salesman and marketer. But I’ve always been into geography for the maps and the geographic information systems. And I was always kind of a computer nut; I got my first computer when I was in the fifth grade, so it all kind of tied together.”
In addition to grids and graphics he was also an accomplished athlete, playing baseball and soccer at Wilson High in Long Beach and briefly in college.
“When I got into college I continued that for a little bit,” he said. “But I realized the dream was over and moved on to real life.”
“Real life” came in the form of the online adult industry, where he was already dabbling as a webmaster while still finishing his degree.
“I was looking for work in fields like geographic information and city planning sectors and checking out places like Thomas Bros. Maps, stuff like that,” he said. “But by that time I was doing well enough as a webmaster, and none of those jobs could compare with the money I was making in the adult industry, so I never went into the geography industry.”
It was through his work as a webmaster that Matis eventually met ICS founder Joe Lensman in 1998; it was the start of a partnership that would ultimately lead to Matis joining Lensman three years later.
“He [Joe] was running amateur pages at the time,” said Matis. “And throughout the course of five or six months I became one of his biggest affiliates. We would talk often online over the course of the next three years and I remained an affiliate of his throughout that time.”
In 2001 Lensman offered Matis a position with ICS, which was founded in Scottsdale, Ariz., before moving to Pleasanton and then on to the Rocklin area.
“I came up and met with him in the Sacramento area,” said Matis. “And I ended up taking the position and moving up from Southern California a couple weeks later. Everything just hit at the right time. All of these properties at ICS were built as a team effort. We built them all together. With the exception of the Club Jenna product, that’s the only one that has been adjusted and revamped, but that was all part and parcel with the deal when Playboy made the purchase of the Club Jenna industry.”
The partnership ended last December following Lensman’s retirement, and Matis once again found himself in a kind of transition mode, this time armed with the knowledge passed on by Lensman.
“When I first came to work for Joe, he’s one of those guys, he’s been in business basically his entire life,” said Matis. “The knowledge and the little idiosyncrasies I learned from him are extremely valuable. Things like watching the way the business changes, risk management, understanding business trends. It wasn’t necessarily that there was anything direct that I took from it — it was more philosophical and vision-type of things that I took away from working with him.”
Following Lensman’s departure, Matis set about increasing his own stamp on the company, including several major changes to the different sites and some significant streamlining inside the business.
“I wasn’t too deeply involved in a lot of the webmaster programs towards the end,” said Matis. “But I still had a huge background on what was going on and what we were doing, so that made it a lot easier to be able to step into the role.
“Anything takes time to figure out, where things are and how things are working. Everybody has their own shtick they like to put on things, their own ideas, and how they think things should work. So far the transition has been fairly smooth. We’ve made some sweeping changes pretty quick on the business side, and it wasn’t anything that Joe was doing wrong, it was just things that we decided we wanted to do differently, and those things take time.”
Changes to the tours and a complete revamping of the members areas as well as restructuring teams inside the business are just a few things that were addressed.
“We’ve migrated the members areas from an in-house CMX to an elevated X, which gives us a lot more flexibility and maneuverability,” Matis explained. “And we’ve structured everything a little bit differently as far as how each of the teams inside of the business works, giving everybody more responsibility, which they’re all taking on with great stride. We’ve streamlined a lot. These were people that were capable of doing a lot more; they had the ability to do a lot more and they felt they wanted that challenge. We’ve done so much consolidation, before everybody had one job, now they have three or four of them. So far the past four months we’ve given them more and it’s paid off a lot.”
Another considerably sizable task Matis has recently taken on is revisiting some of ICS Entertainment’s established moneymakers.
“One of my main focuses for the first six to nine months of this year was taking the products we have, that we knew converted, that we knew we had a good product, but maybe it was a little neglected or outdated, and revamping and streamlining and optimizing so we can get the most out of those sites and projects. And this also gives our affiliates the best product as well.”
With businesses of both the David and Goliath proportion struggling through the country’s current economic crisis, Matis has downshifted ICS into a gear he feels will better suit the company’s ability to slipstream the recession.
“It’s less about cutting-edge and more about survival these days. We’ve done rounds of cuts as far as the business is concerned. So our major focus right now is getting back to growth and getting more streamlined. Over the past few years when the industry saw this tremendous growth, we kind of lost a little bit of our focus. So we’re getting back to a focus on streamlining and attentiveness to our webmasters. In-house items that we feel were kind of neglected when our vision was too wide are being brought back to a more narrow focus.”
And with 11 years of industry experience, Matis feels he has seen just about everything an up-and-down economy can dish out.
“I’ve watched the ebb and flow over the course of that time,” he said. “And I think in the next few years we’re going to see kind of a cleaning out. You’ll see more companies get back to streamlining, getting back to business, and they had to do that simply because we all got fat in a time when the industry was making easy money. And now it’s time to get back to work.”
And how does he feel about the potential economic obstacle course? “The rewards are in the challenges. This is a very challenging time for everyone, so every time you have a challenge and succeed, that’s where the reward is found.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of AVN Online. To subscribe, visit AVNMediaNetwork.com/subscribe.