I used to think D-Money, aka Darren Blatt, brother of KB, aka Kevin Blatt, epitomized that unique breed of entrepreneur all too common to this industry: the ubiquitous operator who is apparently well-heeled, yet not visibly employed.
After all, D-Money is literally everywhere, at all the shows, at the tropical island gathering, hanging with the big boys, putting on the lavish parties - seemingly well liked and living the good life. You can't help but wonder - what the hell does this guy do for a living?
The answer turns out to be a bit of everything. Although he is extremely articulate and knowledgeable about the industry, his celebrity status is due more to charisma than offensive self-promotion; he's managed to sustain his status as a player while deftly avoiding the detestable trap of acting like a thug.
In a way, D-Money is too sweet a guy to be associating with many of the denizens of porn. Dynamic but relaxed, he's neither boring nor overbearing - he enjoys nothing more than keeping you up all night devising marketing schemes. That's because he's one of those guys who makes his way through life with ease and self-deprecating humor, refusing to taking anything too seriously, as though some Zen entity touched him on the shoulder and gave him a grace and calm that are rare qualities in any industry. And while he loves to party, business is the engine that drives him, success his Holy Grail.
D-Money was born 30 years ago in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. After high school, he attended Ohio State University, where he double-majored in philosophy and communications. Five years ago, he moved to San Diego where, in 1998, after a stint as the owner of an alarm company (actually two alarm companies), he was offered a job with a former client, WebSideStory, even though he had no Web experience.
"I had never been on a computer before and knew nothing about the Internet," he told AVN Online, "and they told me I was going to be heading up their hosting division, which was brand new for them. It was something they did just for their own clients, like Pure Hardcore, which at the time was huge."
That experience built the foundation for his career in the adult Internet industry, exposing him to the movers and shakers and allowing him an insider's view of how it all works. "What I learned from that experience and carried over to today was that no one knew who Darren Blatt was if I just cold-called someone and said, ?Hey, it's Darren Blatt and I want to sell you hosting.' But when I would say, ?I'm Darren from WebSideStory,' and that person used our counter and knew how big we were, then I had instant credibility and everyone would take the phone call. When I left WebSideStory, I had to build my name again. I had to create D-Money."
Fast forward past the intervening years, during which D-Money set up various projects, most of which still constitute the repertoire of D-Money Presents. The surviving pursuits include Amateur Footage, Video Provider, The D-Money Show, Marketing Firm, and of course, The Player's Ball. Of these, the last three provide him with the most visibility, but they all contribute revenue to his coffers, supporting an operating philosophy of diversity and intense networking.
"I would say that my business model is based on karma, being positive, and being friends with everybody," he said. "Once you're friends with everybody, you use your own discretion about hitting them up to promote a certain service." But no less important is always keeping several balls in play. "Anytime you're able to create an extra revenue stream, you're doing well."
These days, much of D-Money's time is spent preparing for the next Player's Ball (like trying to snag Snoop Dogg for the June Internext) and advising MarketingFirm.com clients, which include Marilyn Manson, Busty-Amateurs, AdultBuffet, AL4A, and Blue Gravity Communications, among others.
His marketing advice remains as fluid as the industry itself. "Everything is different and so interactive with your client, because all I can do is shoot ideas and basically feel out what they want to do and what their do's and don't are. For instance, some people want to market their non-adult [sites] separately from the adult, so you have to make separate doorways and market each one differently. So really it's very specific to the client."
But whatever he's up to now, the arc of D-Money's career seems to be just beginning. "I think with everybody on the Internet, you always look at what you know and what you could be doing. So to me, I'm barely scratching the surface of my potential. I still believe that most of my big money makers are yet to be released, and I'm working very hard at getting them out there."
Which begs the question: Does he consider himself primarily a businessman or an Internet celebrity. "I would say that the businessman made me the celebrity. But they feed one another now, because I understood at the beginning that it's about branding and credibility, and the more that you see the name D-Money and associate the name with something credible, it enables me to do the business. But if I just lived off of being an Internet celebrity, I'd never get a deal done, so I'd say I'm both."
So does he have a purpose beyond making money? "If I do have a purpose beyond that, and I'm not sure I do, it would be to try to bring the Webmasters back together to realize that we can all do business together. Four years ago, everyone was friends and hung out together. Nowadays, there's a lot more friction among people who used to be cool with one another. But while I want to be a peacemaker and feel I am a peacemaker, I'm not the guy who will rise up and say, 'I'm going to put this industry together,' because it doesn't work that way. I just feel that my gift is a people gift. I have a way of putting people together to do business together... and hopefully make a piece."
Take our word for it, D-Money is more than a money maker; he's a role model for newbies and veterans alike.