Who is Timothy Stokely? OnlyFans founder revolutionized sex work in pandemic

Who is Timothy Stokely? OnlyFans founder revolutionized sex work in pandemic
Timothy Stokely is the founder of OnlyFans (Instagram/ timstokely)

Last year when the Covid-19 pandemic hit most parts of the world, there were many businesses that failed miserably. People lost their jobs, countries faced a severe economic crisis, but there was one person who gained and only gained amid the tough times. He is Timothy Christopher Stokely -- the founder of OnlyFans.

What is OnlyFans?

Founded in 2016, OnlyFans is a subscription-based content service platform, where users pay to see uncensored, often explicit content. According to its website, it was developed for creators who can “monetize their content free of advertisers.” It also adds, “Unlike other social platforms, OnlyFans is welcoming of all creator genres and their content.


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“The platform is designed to optimize creator engagement. When a creator posts, over 60% of their fans see and interact with the content. Over 80% of direct messages sent by creators are seen and opened. Over 100 creators have earned over $1 million since monetizing their content on OnlyFans. The platform continues to grow as more creators are using content as a way to connect with their fans,” it adds.


Who is Timothy Stokely and how does he earn?

Born in Harlow, Essex, the 38-year-old is the youngest son of a banker. He is the man behind the booming online adult service platform, OnlyFans. According to his LinkedIn profile, he is a graduate of Property and Surveying from Anglia Ruskin University. The Sunday Times has dubbed Stokely “the king of homemade porn”.

It has been said OnlyFans has revolutionized the sex industry. The users have to pay $5.52 (£3.90) to $55.25 (£39) a month for pictures from their favorite creators, while the site’s commission is set at 20 percent. And, during the coronavirus lockdown, OnlyFans is reported to have risen suddenly with a 42 percent increase in new accounts being created. There are believed to be around 660,000 creators worldwide along with 50 million users.

OnlyFans has reportedly paid over $1.35 billion (£956 million) to its creators, which would mean the online adult platform has gained more than $1.6 billion (£1.2 billion) in revenue. The platform mentions, “Whether you’re uploading tutorials, tips, behind-the-scenes footage or just endless selfies, a lot of your followers would be willing to pay for them.” The entrepreneur reportedly lives a luxurious life in his $3.3 million (£2.4 million) six-bedroom mansion in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, which comes with eight bathrooms, a cinema, a marble bar, a games room, gym and sauna. Estate agents have described his house as a “stunning, modern home finished to a very high specification”.


Before OnlyFans, Stokely had founded a BDSM and fetish site GlamWorship.com in 2011. However, after observing a demand for customizable content from fans, he launched Customs4U.com that let users ask porn stars for content in exchange for money. In 2019, Customs4U.com was sold for a huge profit.

Stokely had once explained what inspired him to launch such online platforms. In a 2014 Reddit post, he admitted that he “stumbled across the appeal of fetish movies” while attending Anglia Ruskin University. He also added, “I have seen a million and one [porn videos]. You sort of become immune to weirdness. A hazard of the job.”

Who are OnlyFans creators?

The creators on OnlyFans include ‘Love Island’ star Megan Barton Hanson, Cardi B, Blac Chyna, and British glamor model Dannii Harwood -- who reportedly is the first Briton to make $1.4 million (£1 million) from the platform after she joined it in 2019. Harwood once told the New York Times, “You can get porn for free. Guys don’t want to pay for that. They want the opportunity to get to know somebody they’ve seen in a magazine or on social media. I’m like their online girlfriend.”

Megan Barton Hanson attends the National Television Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on January 28, 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Another creator Erica North, who doesn’t identify as a sex worker, explains what makes OnlyFans unique and different. She said, “What other platform allows you to text with the people you watch online? I tell people, ‘My favorite feature on OnlyFans is talking to people.’ I really mean it when I tell them that I’m there for them, I want to talk to them, and that doing so is the best part of my day.”

Cardi B performs onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California and broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

King Noire, a sex worker on OnlyFans whose specialty is kink and BDSM, agreed with North and said, “Despite how technologically advanced we get, nothing will give your profile a better boost than a fan who feels like you’re in their corner.” She also added, “People subscribe to me because my content is unique. There might be other people who do something similar, but they don’t do it with my expertise or flavor.”

Blac Chyna attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

One creator named Lexi, who apparently earned $1,414 (£1,000) in the first month, said: “You're basically working as a commission-only salesperson. If you don't do the work, you don't get paid. If you're going to set up a subscription site for a bit of fun - please don't. There are people who are using it to try and survive at the moment. Set your boundaries before you make your content. Remember that it is out there forever.”

However, a creator named Ana said with OnlyFans it's “almost like they’re pimping us out and taking their cut.” Another one agreed and added that “it just feels like virtual prostitution.” But Stokely disagreed as he stated, “All the creators have joined the platform by choice, and create content as they choose.”

While Teela Sanders, a criminology professor at the University of Leicester, warned those creating their profiles on the site. “There certainly is a lot more that needs to be done, especially as we see new platforms popping up all of the time, which don't necessarily have the awareness that they need to be responsible platforms,” she said.

In 2020, thousands of explicit content of OnlyFans leaked online. At the time, it was reported that cybercrooks put pictures and videos into huge databases and then leaked them across the internet. It has now been said that after the OnlyFans leak, the company has changed their policies. Screenshots are not allowed anymore and if anyone takes it, they get only a black screen. Besides, users are not allowed to record anything and if they do, they will be banned. A statement on OnlyFans said, “OnlyFans takes content piracy very seriously and has a designated DMCA team that issue formal takedown notices against all reported copyright violations. Our DMCA team issue notice on all illicit target websites, hosting services and domain registrars, whilst also notifying all major search engines of these infringements.”

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