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Pia Poppenreiter, the company’s CEO, stands and greets me with a rushed hug.
"You picked a great day to visit," she says, in a voice that suggests more cigarettes than hours of sleep.
Several in the group were Ohlala users, but Poppenreiter puts those numbers in the low single digits. "I was exhausted, I was at the conference the whole day." There’s no question the group was pulling off a stunt.
A leaked Facebook invitation for the party-within-a-party encouraged invitees to "grab a drink and mingle with men who crave the finer things in life." A publicity stunt involving a controversial app doesn’t sound like the stuff of trending topics, until you consider NOAH’s abysmal female attendance rate — at this year’s event, only 11 out of its 108 speakers were women.
Though its on-demand model has earned Ohlala the label "Uber for escorts," the company insists it isn’t an escort agency, or even operating in the adult entertainment space.
As I scrolled through the largely German #escortgate hashtag, one Bing translation at a time, I started to piece together an unraveling scandal.
The presence of escorts at the evening events have long been a wink-wink assumption.
By symbolically associating themselves with these women, Ohlala’s party crashers made the company a scapegoat for these rumors. Poppenreiter had already released a statement earlier in the day in response to the outcry, apologizing for letting things "get out of hand." But part of me can’t help but wonder if this was exactly what she had planned.Crucially, women are not visible to men before they initiate conversation — it’s the inverse of the backpage listings to which it’s often compared. From there, the couple can chat and discuss the whens and wheres of their impending dates, as well as a payment method and their boundaries, if they so please.(In-app payment is currently in the works, the team tells me.) When the terms are agreed upon, the chat is logged, and presumably both parties are incentivized to show up.If you want to bring a third, you can propose that as well.Either way, the goal is to get exactly what you want that night.Launched in August 2015, Ohlala is a web-based app that facilitates what it calls "instant paid dating." Male users post offers for dates, consisting of a time, a duration, and how much money they’re willing to pay — a typical offer is from 1–4 hours at an average price of 0.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating