Reddits Favorite High-School Porn Magnate Is Actually 22

On Tuesday morning, a post from a high schooler with a remarkable story shot to the top of Reddit.

IamA high school student who built & run a popular porn site. I spend 4-6 hours a day staring at porn while balancing homework in between. AMA! it read. On Reddit, AMA means ask me anything.

The poster claimed to be an 18-year-old wunderkind in Los Angeles who had built the Instagram for porn in his spare time between homework and soccer practice. He spent hours responding to Redditors sharing details about his personal life, the influence of his religious parents, and how he decided to build the app one day alone in his bedroom.

Miraculously, Kevin, which he said his name was, said he had built the app with hardly any programming experience.

I just started messing around with tutorials on YouTube, he wrote on Reddit. Its amazing how much free learning resource there is online. You can pretty much find tutorials to do/build/code anything out there.

After a few hours, Redditors became skeptical.

Kevin refused to provide any proof that he was actually 18. A reverse search on the email address he had listed found that the web app he claimed to have created by himself in his bedroom was actually registered to two New York City-based Stanford grads, Adam Lee and James Cook.

Downvotes poured in and within a matter of hours Kevin had logged offline and refused to answer more questions.

Im just nervous about my parents finding out, he told The Daily Beast that evening. Im just a young teenager and my family is really religious. Im nervous this will affect my college applications. If my identity gets out, it could ruin me.

But Kevin shouldnt have worried too much about his college applications. He has already been to college. He was a freshman at Stanford in 2013.

Kevin, in fact, is just the latest online moniker of Jack Kim, a New York City-based designer and developer who has worked at tech companies such as Giphy and Bloglovin, and who most certainly is not 18.

A reverse search using the domain name reference site DomainTools reveals that Kim has been tied to a number of projects throughout his career in tech. Cummingle, his Instagram for porn, is not even his first X-rated endeavor.

He previously registered ijustcame.org, a porn aggregator site similar to Cummingle, under one of his other pseudonyms, Benjamin von Hughes, in early 2016. Ijustcame.org famously promised to donate money to a good cause every time someone used content on the site to masturbate.

In 2015, Kim and his then-business partner, Matt Henderson, launched a fake app called Rumblr which was billed as a Tinder for fights. The app received widespread press attention and generated outrage before it was eventually revealed to be fake.

Kim, who is now 22, is a master at launching products to great fanfare online and has left a trail of absurd projects and failed businesses in his wake.

Several years ago he launched a project called Hackbook Pro where he would illegally prep HP Notebooks to receive Mac OSX software and sell them for $329. The project gained him widespread notoriety among the young hacker community in New York and, according to a former business partner of his, he made nearly $300,000 before Apples legal team shut him down.

Kim also raised $200,000 from Betaworks for a failed AI startup called Duo and, in September, launched a product called Bliss that promised to help consumers finance airline flights.

Bliss, like Kims other projects, went viral quickly. The company offered a free flight to every person who was able to sign up 10 of their friends, a promise on which Kim couldnt deliver.

Jack considers himself a growth hacker, Kims former business partner Nikk Wong said, noting that he was a master at building hype around products. He will do literally anything to make something grow.

But Wong was appalled at the way Kim appeared to be marketing his latest endeavor, Cummingle.

Me and him were basically cofounders together for the last two years, he told The Daily Beast via private message on Tuesday. Cummingle was a project that he wanted me to build, actually, but I decided not to. I didnt know he was going to do this to try to market it.

Hate them, a Pornhub community manager commented on Reddit about ijustcame.org. They were hotlinking our CDN and stealing Pornhub bandwith. A fake AMA doesnt surprise me at all.

Kim was so set on making his Instagram for porn project go viral that on Tuesday morning, shortly after his AMA went live, Kim frantically texted young influencers in the tech community begging them to send this to any press or reporters you know.

One young influencer, having never met Kim in real life and only knowing him via tech-related text messages, obliged and flagged the story to outlets such as Mashable and The Next Web, neither of whom covered the story.

On Tuesday evening, Kim reached out to The Daily Beast and gave a 30-minute interview in which he gave incongruous details about his life as a high school coding prodigy, still claiming he was a teenager named Kevin.

The more time a person spends on the internet, the more personal information leaks out. With every viral scheme, Kim left a trail of virtual breadcrumbs leading back to his true identity.

Invariably, finding out Kims real identity was simple. Kim gave his real phone number to a young influencer, who forwarded it to The Daily Beast on Tuesday. That phone number was connected to the domain registration for Kims personal website, as well as the parent site for Rumblr.

The Daily Beast called Kim on Thursday afternoon to tell him that no one named Kevin was associated with this phone number, and a software developer named Jack Kim was. Between long pauses, Kim initially insisted he was 18.

After several minutes, he gave in.

Its all a marketing strategy, he explained. The end goal is never to harm other people.

Kim said that early on in his career, he recognized the power of press to make products go viral and gain mass adoption. As someone who lives for building and launching products the media attention that came with each launch was like crack.

People ask me. Theyre like, Why do you do things like this? And I cannot explain it, he said. Maybe there are other people like me in the world. Im addicted to creating things. Creating products that people use just gives me joy. Im happiest when I get that rush and see those Google Analytics stats and I see thousands of people using it. It really matters very little what the product is.

Kim added the way to get lots of people to use [his web sites] at once happens to be getting press.

This relentless pursuit of media attention led Kim to create fake products and fake identities to promote themall, he said, in service of a better story.

And Kim learned that having a compelling founder story is key to garnering the attention of tech press.

Kim said he didnt see harm in making up false stories to promote his products, because ultimately, he saw it as a win-win.

If a journalist or publication writes about something thats not true, but they wrote a great headline, which I provided, and it gets a lot of clicks and the product does really, well, then, its actually a win win for both of us, Kim said.

When informed that it was the job of journalists to tell the truth and inform readers with factual information, and not get clicks with false headlines, Kim replied, Well, in that case I guess my thinking has been false. So I apologize.

Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, a platform for discovering and launching new products, said hes seen founders become obsessed with the rush that comes from media attention and the subsequent spike in user growth.

While attention is beneficial in the short term, entrepreneurship is a long game, Hoover said.

He said that creating false narratives around products will eventually harm founders.

Everything you do online is recorded, indexed, and discoverable, Hoover said. Lying might help you in the short term, but long term, its going to catch up to you. Investors do due diligence, and if they dig in deep enough, theyre going to find out that this person has been dishonest and its not going to help them in the long run.

Kim said he recognizes this issue and reiterated multiple times that he would never use dubious marketing practices to promote the real companies he works with and his clients at Ember Labs, a consulting company he founded that helps promote and launch early stage products.

In his regular Jack life, as he called it, Kim said his business dealings are relatively straightforward. He said he does viral stunts for the thrill of it, satiating a part of himself he called Evil Jack.

Kim recently liked a post on Medium about growing a startup using viral loops and on Kims LinkedIn page he claims that the products hes launched have been featured in more than 300 publications around the world. Kim wrote a story for The Huffington Post five years ago, when he really was 17.

I dont do these things for the money. Its just for the shear ego boost or whatever you want to call it, for what I live for, which is building products and having people use those products, he said.

Kim appears to have become enthralled with the long held notion that on the internet you can become anything you want.

He has leveraged multiple identities, fake names, and false biographies to promote and launch his viral projects, all while maintaining a banal public presence under his true identity, Jack Kim.

In 2016 Kim even began living a second life under the fake name, Sebastian Park, as an art project. He launched a separate personal website, Instagram account, and Facebook profile for Park, where he claims to be an artist based in nyc making whatever the fuck I want.

In a post on Kims blog titled, Identity as a Medium he writes:

What if for one of my art projects, I created and lived as a completely different identity an alter ego as a canvas? Basically, what if I tried to live two completely different lives at once?

Painters use canvas or walls, sculptors use clay, street artists use the city itself, etc What if human identity was used as a medium? A persons life as a 4-dimensional canvas?

On Thursday, Kim explained that, aside from his artistic persona, his identity is split.

My identity is twofold, he said. One me is Jack Kim, who builds world class legitimate products. But sometimes I get bored, and thats when my other side kicks in.

He explained that his second persona, the one he uses to launch viral stunts and act out anonymously online, is Like another, badder Jack.

Everyone has an evil side to them and thats just like mine, he said. Something Im good at is launching things, and I come up with these ideas that can get a lot of attention. Its like a playground for me.

Kim said that all of his identities fall into one of three things that I do as a person.

Its either Jack Kim, who just builds products. Then theres Sebastian who builds products but the products are art, again for the sake of creating things, he said. And the bad Jack engages in online stunts.

When asked why he didnt come clean sooner and reveal his true identity when the Reddit thread spiraled out of control, Kim said, I just could not afford a sliver of a chance that my normal Jack identity got tied to bad Jack later on in the future, when I have bigger things going that I want to do.

Over the course of the conversation on Thursday, Kim would sneak in bits of truth. He claimed, for instance, that he hadnt actually lied to me that much when he initially spoke to me as an 18-year-old teen.

A lot of the stuff I told you was true, he said. My parents are really strict, and I do love soccer.

Kim also claimed that a real high schooler in the Netherlands had helped build Cummingle. Kim would not disclose any information about the mysterious Dutch high schooler and confirmed that it was him, not the high schooler, running the Reddit AMA.

I dont know what youre framing me as. Im a very ambitious kid, he said. I wake up, I work 17 hours a day. All I do is build products. I want to do great things in the future. I didnt mean for this to get out of hand.

After speaking by phone Thursday afternoon, Kim sent through pages of Evernote documents outlining how he markets his ideas on social media.

Before I start a product, I start with the headline, he said. In this case it was Unemployed College Bro Builds an Instagram for Porn. Internet Goes Wild. When asked why it was a college bro when he was really building the site with a Dutch high schooler, he said he later changed it because he believed it gave the story even more viral potential.

Kim explained that he was sorry for lying and that he realized that spreading fake information on the internet was wrong. In the age of fake news, even a trivial puff piece about a made-up founder can be used to discredit a news organization, and Kim said he now realizes the error of his ways.

Still, he had one last request.

You should send me the headline on this story, he said. Ill let you know if its going to be head turning.

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