Investors searching for the next big thing should look at vibrators and sex-ed talks, according to this starry-eyed business manifesto.
Debut author Barrica, a former venture capitalist and CEO and founder of the website O.school, argues that the world is sunk in a mire of sexual ignorance and dissatisfaction thanks to inadequate school sex-ed courses and society’s embarrassed reluctance to talk about sex. She sees a crying need for private companies to step in and supply a market for “sexual wellness” that she estimates could be worth $122 billion by 2026. Barrica extols business opportunities in two sectors: nice, respectable, female-friendly retail outlets selling sex aids like vibrators and prewarmed lubricant dispensers—she praises San Francisco’s pioneering Good Vibrations boutique—and media sources providing frank but nonpornographic information on sex. (Her O.school site offers videos, livestreams, and comments by sex educators on many topics, including sexually transmitted infections, BDSM-related topics, and proper cunnilingus technique.) To get there, she warns, investors and entrepreneurs must surmount barriers, including venture capital firms’ limited-partner agreements with morals clauses and wary payment processors. The book concludes with a savvy primer on growing a sextech startup, including advice on scoring venture capital (“it takes 100 meetings for every one million dollars you want to raise”) and keeping your bank from freaking out about your business. (“Keep it vague.”) Barrica’s prose has the flavor of an investment prospectus—“By shifting the message away from prurience and toward wellness, it allows us to access a much broader market”—written from a very woke-capitalist perspective. She offers tips on trans-inclusive sextech terminology—don’t say “women,” say “vulva owners”—and bemoans the “orgasm gap” that sees straight women climaxing just 65 percent of the time compared with straight men’s 95 percent. Barrica’s unblushing confrontations with sociosexual issues—“No one is talking to their kids about responsible consumption of porn”—may make readers squirm, but they also remind us why we might need a website to talk about these things with kids so that we don’t have to.
An impassioned and cogent, though boosterish, case for market-based sexual therapeutics.