Noel Biderman says that when a journalist crowned him "king of infidelity," his heart sank a bit. The title would make everyone think he had been with hundreds of women, but that was not the case. The title referred to his business; a dating website for married people called "Ashley Madison."

"At first, I was concerned about how my wife and friends would feel about it, but then I went with the flow," Biderman says. Today, the site is present in 23 countries and has over 14,425,000 users. In view of such numbers, many accuse Biderman of profiting while causing suffering to third parties, but his answer is always don't shoot the messenger. "No one would blame a hotel for the affairs that take place in their rooms," he explains, "why blame me? It was probably going to happen anyway." He insists that he doesn't encourage people to cheat; he just tells those who are already considering it to use Ashley Madison.

Photo: Ashley Madison
Noel Biderman confidently assumes the title.

Initially, and thinking that cheating was traditionally easier for men, Biderman targeted females. "There was no such service tailored for women, who like to converse and go through a selection process when they seek an affair." But today, 70% of Ashley Madison's clients are men, while only 30% are women. Evidently men were attracted by the idea that this was a service for women.

Users are traditionally described as people who feel stuck in sexless marriages and have lost passion. "They want the sparkle back," Biderman says. They don't split up or divorce because they have children and other responsibilities, and they cheat secretly because, in Biderman's words, "not everybody has the courage to tell their partner they want a mistress."

Biderman claims never to have cheated. He has been happily married for 8 years and has two kids. But he understands that not everyone is so lucky. "I empathise with these people and try to help them. I know I took an unpopular cause to defend," he states.

Indeed, many find him hypocritical for this and criticise how well he manages the field of moral relativism. Does he believe cheating is acceptable or is he just trying to justify an idea that would give him money? Opponents are varied.

You have the devastated wives and husbands that find out about the affairs and send hate emails. Or the community that accuses the site of being a scam, on AshleyMadisonSucks.com, where former users bash the number of fake profiles, prostitutes trying to earn money and women who just wouldn't reply. But once in a while, Biderman also hears about users who remind him of the good side of his job. His favourite story is that of a man whose wife had Alzheimers and found another woman on the website who could satisfy him sexually while he kept taking care of the wife he loved.

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