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One Edge Android May Have Over Apple's iOS: Entree Into the X-Rated Adult Market

With its second Android-focused fund, DCM Ventures has the lucrative adult market in its sights.

ThinkStock / Adrian Hillman

When DCM Ventures launched its first fund for startups devoted to Android in 2011, it was a risk. Google’s open-sourced mobile software had yet to take off, and it wasn’t clear it would.

It’s a different world now. Android is everywhere. And it has little distinction from Apple, the other dominant OS. Both are moving lockstep into wearables, connected homes, TV and cars.

On Thursday, DCM Ventures, the early-stage venture firm, announced the second iteration of its Android fund, $100 million with some new heavyweight backers: SoftBank, Qualcomm and Baidu. The fund will hunt for startups building on these next Android platforms, along with virtual and augmented reality, said general partner David Chao. And the firm, which focuses primarily on East Asia, hopes to repeat some of the big wins of explosive mobile startups, like Kakao and Yik Yak, from its first four years.

Oh, and there’s another pasture for growth, one where Android can be distinct: The unseemly fringes.

“There are still areas where Android is uniquely open, where you can circumvent some of the constraints that iOS has,” Chao told Re/code. Namely, he said, mobile companies that are “doing anything that has slightly violent content in a game. Or the sex industry.”

Another example: Eaze, the medical cannabis delivery app (reductively, the “Uber for pot”), in which DCM invests. Apple often cracks down on these apps. Google doesn’t.

And Android’s tolerance can pave the way for scandalous returns. “Not that we have [invested] yet, but we have been looking for some X-rated applications that might want to go public,” Chao said. Exchanges in London, he added, are more welcoming to these companies than those in New York.

Despite its dominance as an OS, Android has trailed Apple as a revenue source for developers. Some evidence suggests the gap is shrinking, thanks, in part, to the surge of Android use across Asia.

In the U.S., the porn industry has already shown its willingness to embrace and invest in one emerging mobile platform: VR. Last weekend, we told you about the elegantly named BaDoink, which is doling out Google’s VR Cardboard to get its business moving.

“Adult content for good or ill,” its CEO said, “is the straw that stirs technology’s drink in terms of consumer uptake.”

Drink up.

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