Cindy Gallop: ‘I want to see women making huge exits from start-ups’

19 Jun 2015

Cindy Gallop wants to see more women make huge exits. Photo credit: Conor McCabe Photography

Cindy Gallop, the founder of If We Ran the World and Make Love Not Porn, told InspireFest 2015 that she wants to see women making huge exits from start-ups.

“I want to see women making huge exits from start-ups, and up there in the rarified tech billionaire ranks with Larry and Sergey and Evan and Travis,” she said.

On the subject of the ongoing gender bias in the technology industry she said confidently: “All those barriers will fall away from all of us when we can prove that women can make a s**t ton of money.”

She told would-be founders to realise that their business model can be anything they want it to be.

“Ask yourself, how you’d like to make money and design your business model around that.

“I designed my own business model – a business model of the future is shared values plus shared action equals shared profit, financially and socially.

“Everything starts with you and your values and how you set the agenda for your business.”

Gallop’s background is brand building, marketing and advertising – she started up the US office of ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York in 1998 and in 2003 was named Advertising Woman of the Year. She is the founder and CEO of If We Ran The World, co-action software launched in beta at TED 2010 and subsequently written up and taught as a Harvard Business School case study, and of Make Love Not Porn, launched at TED 2009.

Let’s talk about sex… and opportunity

In the case of Make Love Not Porn, which aims to socialise the conversation about sex and make it more mainstream, Gallop noted two converging forces – today’s access to hardcore porn and society’s inability to talk about sex.

“I felt a personal responsibility to take this forward and be far-reaching and effective.

“I saw an opportunity for a huge business solution to address a huge social need. It is not anti-porn but the total absence of a conversation around sex and ability for people to talk openly and honestly about it.

“The opportunity was to make real-world sex socially acceptable.”

Gallop said, however, that she has run into roadblocks when it comes to raising money for Make Love Not Porn and its video platform because most terms and conditions have a caveat against the “adult” word.

“Sex is recession proof. What we are doing right now is socialising sex, making it shareable and there is the potential to quadruple returns when we normalise it.”

She pointed to EL James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, and the amount of money that book made, as well as the movie of the same name, which broke box-office records.

“That is the financial promise of socially acceptable sex.”

Ultimately, Gallop said that the future belongs to women and especially if women and men work together, as portrayed by Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in the movie Mad Max: Fury Road.

“Women will influence men more than men will influence other men.

“The business of the future is female informed because there is a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously.”


Inspirefest 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-20 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

This story was originally published at 19.31pm on 19 June 2015. It has since been updated with a video report.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years