Who is Tim Stokely? Founder of OnlyFans helped boost the creator economy

  • Tim Stokely founded OnlyFans in 2016 with his brother and a loan from his father. His influence on the platform’s success, particularly in the adult content industry, remains significant.
  • OnlyFans, founded by Tim Stokely in 2016, revolutionised content creation with its subscription-based model, allowing creators to monetise their content directly. While primarily known for adult content, the platform also hosts a variety of other content genres, providing creators with a diverse audience and revenue opportunities.
  • Tim Stokely’s tenure as CEO of OnlyFans was marked by both success and challenges, particularly in navigating controversies surrounding the platform’s handling of adult content.

OnlyFans founder & CEO Tim Stokely is a British tech entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of OnlyFans, the subscription social media platform revolutionising creator and fan relationships. A lifelong entrepreneur, Mr. Stokely’s work is rooted in social communities and learnings from the influencer space. Mr. Stokely launched OnlyFans in 2016 and has continued at the forefront of the platform’s evolution.

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Tim Stokely was born in Harlow, Essex, in July 1983, the youngest of four children of Guy Stokely, a retired ex-Barclays investment banker. He has a degree from Anglia Ruskin University.

Stokely’s first businesses were the adult performance websites Glam Worship and Customs4U, and a site to connect customers to tradespeople. He founded OnlyFans in 2016 alongside his older brother, Thomas Stokely and with the help of a £10,000 ($12, 674) loan from his father, Guy, who told him, “Tim, this is going to be the last one”. 

His brother is the company’s chief operating officer and his father is head of finance. He sought to avoid the mistakes of his earlier sites by building a referral system that gave third parties an incentive to recruit new content creators to the site.

He has been described by The Sunday Times as “the king of homemade porn” as the majority of OnlyFans’ content is pornographic. Stokely cites the investor Warren Buffett and his book Warren Buffett on Business as one of his influences.

Stokely sold a 75% stake in OnlyFans’ parent company Fenix International to Leonid Radvinsky in 2018. On 23 December 2021, Tim Stokely stepped down as CEO of OnlyFans and was succeeded by Indian-American businesswoman Amrapali Gan. Keily Blair replaced Gan in July 2023.

Stokely lives in a “gated mansion with a cinema and sauna” in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. He subscribes to two OnlyFans content creators, James Haskell and Chris Robshaw, which reflects his interest in rugby.

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Founded in 2016 and headquartered in London, UK, OnlyFans was created by British businessman Tim Stokely as a private social software as well as a paid membership platform.

What makes OnlyFans unique is the subscription service, where content creators can create a content service on the platform that requires a paid subscription, and fans need to pay to view it, as the name OnlyFans suggests, fans subscribe to the content creators they follow, rather than the platform as a whole.

There are many celebrities and actors who interact with their fans through the platform, and the fan base can pay to view what obviously includes the blogger’s private photos as well as private videos, and there’s no single piece of content that’s paid for, including how-to shoots and more that can be done for a fee as well.

Subscription content can be viewed on both a monthly and pay-per-view basis, and content creators can directly access the revenue generated by their subscriptions each month. Fans can also reward them with tips when they view the content, which allows content creators to attract more fans to subscribe to their content as long as it’s attractive enough to increase their monthly revenue.

In terms of the split model, OnlyFans’ content creators receive 80% of the revenue, with the remaining 20% going to the platform, leaving OnlyFans with a net profit of about 12% after deducting the platform’s operating costs.

OnlyFans is similar to Pornhub, another site that focuses on adult content, in that it has a lot of adult content on its platform, but, as you can see from the platform’s definition, OnlyFans isn’t limited to adult content, only that the content in that area is more popular with users, and other areas of the platform include music, fitness, and cookery sharing, among other things.


Challenges and controversies

Despite its success, OnlyFans has not been immune to challenges and controversies. One of the most notable issues faced by the platform has been its handling of adult content. While adult creators have been a significant driving force behind OnlyFans’ growth, the platform has faced scrutiny and pressure from payment processors, financial institutions, and regulators regarding the nature of this content.

Stokely and his team have navigated these challenges by implementing stricter content moderation policies and working to diversify revenue streams beyond adult content. Additionally, Stokely has been vocal in defending OnlyFans’ role as a platform that empowers creators and provides them with a means of financial independence.

Tim Stokely’s impact extends beyond the success of OnlyFans as a platform. He has played a pivotal role in shaping the creator economy and challenging conventional notions of content monetisation.

By empowering creators to directly monetise their work and build sustainable careers, Stokely has democratised access to digital content creation and consumption.

Stokely’s entrepreneurial journey serves as inspiration for aspiring founders and innovators, demonstrating the power of vision, perseverance, and adaptability in building a successful startup from scratch.

In December 2022, Tim Stokely stepped down from his role as CEO. He is stepping down to “focus on my next challenge”, he said. And he will remain on as an advisor in the “leadership transition” phase.

In an Instagram post, he wrote: “I’m passing the baton on to a colleague and a friend, who has the vision and drive to help the organisation reach tremendous potential.”


Yun Zhao

Yun Zhao is a junior writer at BTW Media. She graduates from the Zhejiang University of Financial and Economics and majors in English. Send tips to s.zhao@btw.media.

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