The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise

The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise

Posted by jack_miller | Published 10 months ago

With 13 ratings

By: David Kushner

Purchased At: $17.00

“An engrossing microcosm of the internet’s Wild West years” (Kirkus Reviews), award-winning journalist David Kushner tells the incredible battle between the founder of Match.com and the con man who swindled him out of the website Sex.com, resulting in an all-out war for control for what still powers the internet today: love and sex.

In 1994, visionary entrepreneur Gary Kremen used a $2,500 loan to create the first online dating service, Match.com. Only five percent of Americans were using the internet at the time, and even fewer were looking online for love. He quickly bought the Sex.com domain too, betting the combination of love and sex would help propel the internet into the mainstream.

Imagine Kremen’s surprise when he learned that someone named Stephen Michael Cohen had stolen the rights to Sex.com and was already making millions that Kremen would never see. Thus follows the wild true story of Kremen’s and Cohen’s decade-long battle for control. In The Players Ball, author and journalist David Kushner provides a front seat to these must-read Wild West years online, when innovators and outlaws battled for power and money.

This cat-and-mouse game between a genius and a con man changed the way people connect forever, and is key to understanding the rise and future of the online world.

“Kushner delivers a fast-paced, raunchy tale of sex, drugs, and dial-up.” —Publishers Weekly
I devoured this book in two days!! I couldn’t put it down because there’s so many twists and turns and outrageous characters. I always love Kushner’s books because he manages to bring strange worlds (video game visionaries, high-school football heroes committing bank heists, Vegas card sharks, etc.) into focus, with humor and super compelling storytelling. The Players Ball is an unbelievable true story about these two genius tech entrepreneurs, one a dorky superpower and the other his sleazy, con artist nemesis, who obsessively battle for control, money, sanity and dangerous stakes. I cherish when I find a great story that I can’t put down, so I loved being transfixed by this battle. I learned a lot about what goes into starting a business, running a business, stealing a business and fighting to the death “Match”. I really loved this book and the unbelievable ending.

- juliana_campbell

A slice of internet history expertly told by a gifted writer about great personalities in one of the greatest IP battles. Thank you for giving me the ability to sell my domains.

- francesca_wright

I feel silly for not knowing more about this story. I remember the dot.com days but somehow the tale of Kremen and Cohen escaped me.

Kushner tells a gripping tale over the battle of sex.com and I could barely put it down. The two protagonists were more similar than dissimilar—something that makes for an excellent read.

I'm sure that I'll be reading more of Kushner's books.

- arielle_moore

This will be made into a movie!

- elyse_ward

This book is a mostly-readable look at the rise of the internet. Contrary to the book's title & subtitle, it's inaccurate to call Gary Kremen a "genius" and the history provided in this book was never a secret, just not widely told. Some problems: (1) on pages 27 and 37, "The Club" is described as operating in 1998; the correct date is 1988; (2) the author fails to describe how Kremen managed to seize the Sex.com website source code in addition to the domain name. Also, there is a typo that any spell-checker would have caught.

- kase_jones

The true unvarnished story of the chaos that was the internet from 1993-2003. A true story with two unforgettable characters - worthy hero GARY Kremen and his far less worthy nemesis (for far too long). How The Good Guy Won The Internet!!

- eugene_wilson

This book was wildly entertaining. Love the image of these two enemies making phone calls taunting one another. What great insight into the 90s era internet era where so much of the e-commerce innovation was created so that men could by porn on the internet. Oh brother

- pablo_adams

This is a classic.

- davian_wright

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