07/27/2013 08:53 am ET Updated Sep 26, 2013

Sex Toys And The Recession: A Detroit Entrepreneur Who Succeeded Against The Odds. - Slate Magazine


Nardone did not set out to become a sex-toy tycoon. Born and mostly raised in Boston, he studied mechanical engineering in both college and grad school, and got a job as an automotive engineer at Ford's Detroit firm, writing business plans and developing new product ideas. But he largely abandoned engineering when he opened PriveCo. The company struggled initially; in the late '90s, Money magazine called it a "net loser" for not using a mailing list and predicted its swift downfall. But PriveCo held on and went on to launch several new websites, including and, throughout the next decade.

Then the recession hit--and PriveCo's profits went through the roof. Sales of sex toys, particularly those purchased online, skyrocketed during the downturn. PriveCo, once disdained as the of the discreet-purchases market, made a significant profit throughout the slump. "The only thing that affects our business," Nardone says, "is if Google puts us first when you type in vibrators."

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