On the 35th floor of the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, amid the shadows of Gucci-clad women sipping stupidly expensive cocktails in pale-gold armchairs, Noel Biderman, the founder of Ashley Madison, the startlingly successful website for extramarital affairs, sits alone, nursing a glass of bubbly water. He looks beat.
Wearing faded Merrill trail shoes, jeans and a wrinkled John Varvatos shirt that’s just barely tucked in, Biderman, 41, doesn’t look like someone who just landed $50 million from a prominent New York hedge fund – his first score with American investors. With stubble on his cheeks and ashen circles under his eyes, he looks more like some shattered soul who just stumbled across an email from his wife who was using Ashley Madison to confirm an assignation with her secret paramour.
In fact, neither Biderman nor Amanda, his wife of nearly a decade, is one of the 12.7 million Americans on Ashley Madison looking for a discreet affair. (Amanda, their two young children and his parents are upstairs in $1,100-a-night rooms.) What has left him exhausted this evening are the seemingly endless jabs from critics and potential investors who just don’t get the brilliance of what he calls his “rocket ship of a business,” for which revenues have shot up 18-fold in six years.