Unusual startup

Man addicted to porn since teen years aims to help other addicts like him

Alexander Rhodes, founder of the porn recovery website and online community NoFap.com, in Tarentum, Penn., June 15, 2016. (Kristian Thacker/The New York Times)

Alexander Rhodes is not your average tech founder. The ex-Google employee’s new headquarters doesn’t have ping pong or a keg full of beer. The offices are located in part of an abandoned church in western Pennsylvania, where Rhodes, who was once addicted to internet porn, hopes to build a business out of a website where others who share his particular addiction can turn for help, support, and resources. Rhodes’s addiction is an increasingly common one, he says, one that has grown up with the internet. As a kid, he was into Nintendo and computer games, and at age 11, he accidentally clicked on a banner ad that led to an image depicting a rape scene. He began watching porn regularly in high school and by college was watching it up to 14 times a day, he said. His addiction damaged his ability to have meaningful relationships, he said.

He founded a site called NoFap.com while working as a contractor for Google, but was still struggling with his addiction. He gave it up finally in 2013, he says, and has since found meaningful relationships with women. Now he hopes to grow his site, which offers software that helps block porn websites, as well as discussion forums and success stories. into something more substantial, though he is a reluctant CEO.

“The key thing to consider is that I am not a very good businessman,” he said. “I’m not really anything but a guy who was addicted to internet porn.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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