Companies: FriendFinder Networks and Penthouse magazine
Products and services: Online, print, and video publishing and technology licensing
Perhaps the most unlikely face on our list, Marc Bell is an equity guy, a trader who got into the sex industry through a bankruptcy. Marc Bell Capital Partners also produces Broadway shows and operates a real estate investment trust. "We owned Penthouse magazine as creditors in a bankruptcy," Bell says. "We decided, since we had the asset, we should do something with it. So we decided to use it as a platform to acquire other assets in the same arena." To that end, Bell purchased Various, a web company that included AdultFriendFinder.com, for $500 million in 2007. "Adult FriendFinder is just like Facebook," Bell says. "The exception is, we don't censor what people post." Today, Bell says, the company does $350 million in revenue as a technology platform and operator of 30,000 websites, from a large Christian dating site, BigChurch.com, to sites like Bondage.com. Check out a recent Bloomberg Businessweek story on Bell's attempt to acquire Playboy earlier last year.