The strange rise and sudden fall of Noel Biderman, the former CEO of Ashley Madison

Noel Biderman ashley madison avid life mediaNoel BidermanNoel Biderman, founder and former CEO of Ashley Madison.

Noel Biderman, the founder of Ashley Madison, has resigned.

The controversial extra-marital affairs site was hacked in July, resulting in the leak of more than 30 million users’ highly compromising personal data. Facing catastrophic reputational damage as well as multiple lawsuits for hundreds of millions of dollars, parent company Avid Life Media announced on Friday that Biderman has left the company

This is the story of his strange rise to become the self-proclaimed “most hated man on the internet” — and his extremely sudden fall.

He studied Economics at the University of California in the late 1908s, his LinkedIn profile reveals, before returning to Toronto to study Law at the Osgoode Hall Law School.

Via Wikimedia Commons
The University of California's LA campus (it's not clear which one Biderman attended).

Source.

He also worked for a spell in the realtor industry before setting up Ashley Madison.

A house is seen on January 23, 2015 in an affluent area of west London, England.

Biderman is a relentless self-promoter, having appeared as an 'infidelity expert' on CNN, Dr. Phil, Katie Couric, and hundreds of other media outlets.

Avid Life Media

Source.

He has even written books about cheating -- publishing 'Cheaters Prosper: How Infidelity Will Save the Modern Marriage' in 2011, followed by 'Adultropology: The Cyber-Anthropology Behind Infidelity' in 2013.

Amazon

Despite this, Biderman says he's 'happily married,' and has two children with his wife Amanda Biderman. The couple have said they would be 'devastated' if their partner cheated.

AshleyMadison/YouTube
Noel and Amanda Biderman.

According to one leaked document, dating from January, Avid Life Media reached 46 countries and 28 different languages.

Avid Life Media

The CEO reveled in this notoriety: Ashley Madison became known for its provocative stunts, and Biderman describes himself on his personal website as 'the most hated man on the internet.'

Avid Life Media
A slide from a leaked Avid Life Media document.

At one point Ashley Madison was even sued by the Queen of Spain, over a photoshopped photo of her in one their adverts. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, and Prince Charles have all also appeared in its provocative ads.

Avid Life Media

Source.

But on July 12, Avid Life Media employees arrived at work to find a message from a hacker or hackers going by the name of The Impact Team waiting for them. It demanded the company close down Ashley Madison immediately.

BI

Bizarrely, the song 'Thunderstruck' by AC/DC played over the message on employee computers.

Getty Images North America

Avid Life Media didn't comply. So on August 18, The Impact Team dumped internal company documents online, along with compromising personal data about more than 30 million customers.

Avid Life Media
Avid Life Media's Articles Of Incorporation -- just one of the documents leaked online.

The user data contains email addresses, financial details, physical descriptions, and sexual preferences of Ashley Madison customers. There have already been reports of blackmail, divorces, and even (unconfirmed) suicides as a result of the leak.

BI
A blackmail demand received by an Ashley Madison customer.

This was then followed by a second, even larger leak. This included more confidential internal documents -- and hundreds of thousands of Noel Biderman's emails, dating back years.

Bloomberg, Youtube

Included in these emails are some deeply embarrassing revelations about Biderman, including the fact that he once instructed someone to build an app called 'What's Your Wife Worth?' that let men submit their wives to be rated by other users, based on how much they would pay to have sex with them ...

... and that, despite his public claims, he has apparently had multiple illicit affairs.

Avid Life Media

But on Friday, August 28, Avid Life Media released a new statement. Biderman, 'in mutual agreement with the company,' was stepping down and leaving the company. The senior management team is to take control until a replacement is found.

BI

Source.

With his professional relationship in tatters, it's now not clear what lies ahead for Noel Biderman -- or Avid Life Media itself.

Noel Biderman/Instagram

The company is facing lawsuits for hundreds of millions of dollars from furious customers. Even with Biderman gone, it may be too late to save.

Quartz

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at research.businessinsider.com.au.