THE NEXT WEB - Aug 17 - Kathy Kostrub-Waters and Bryan Denny are spending some of their free time finding fake accounts on Facebook. They regularly present Facebook with their findings, and each time are disappointed to find Facebook hasn't changed their approach. Says Denny: "The reality is this isn't my job or Kathy's. So I get really tired of 'Hey, thanks for the work - keep it up.' I'm like no, damnit, it's your job to do this." Denny, a retired member of the Armed Forces, is apparently a popular target for scammers, who steal photos of his attractive mug and use them to construct fake profiles on dating sites and Facebook. He found hundreds of Facebook profiles bearing his photo and those of his son. Now consider Facebook's intention to start a dating site. Various people from groups dedicated to finding and warning others about scam profiles, speaking with Huffington Post, called that idea "madness" and "a train wreck waiting to happen."
KOREA HERALD - Aug 17 - The value of the domestic online dating industry in South Korea is now estimated at 70B won ($62M), according to a 2017 study released by Hongik University in Seoul. As of July, ~920K Koreans were seeking to find romantic partners through mobile dating apps, of which 81% were men and 62% were in their 20s or 30s, according to market research firm Nielsen Korea. More recently, Azar has emerged as the dating app preferred by the younger crowd, coming in No. 3 on the app store chart. Even though it is described as a mobile messaging app, it is also considered a dating app for Korean users since its main feature allows for meeting random people via video chat. Tinder made its debut in the Korean market in 2015. While online dating apps are popular, KakaoTalk, the country's most popular mobile messenger with some 40M users, is the prime battlefield of love.
B&T MAGAZINE - Aug 17 - Bumble has launched a new social campaign featuring sixty Australian digital influencers. Running for thirty days the campaign will see two influencers post each day about why they have chosen to partner with Bumble, focusing on the brand's key values of kindness, empowerment, inclusivity, positivity, accountability and equality. The campaign will utilise the hashtag #imwithbumble.
BUSINESS INSIDER - Aug 16 - Tinder's marketing and communications chief Rosette Pambakian has reportedly been put on leave. She and three other staff ended up on leave after they sued the dating app's owners for $2B. Pambakian wrote a heartfelt email to staff claiming it was important to "shine a light on the terrible practices I have witnessed from Match." Pambakian said she had remained at Tinder because of her love for the company. IAC said the allegations raised in the lawsuit were "meritless" and it intends to "vigorously defend [itself] against them."
FEMALE FIRST - Aug 16 - Plenty of Fish has found that on average, people hold out until the fourth date to have sex with a new partner. Most people will wait until date number two to pucker up but at least a quarter steal a kiss on the first date.
TELEGRAPH.CO.UK - Aug 16 - Seventy Thirty Ltd, a premium dating agency, has been ordered to refund a client ~£13K after it failed to find the woman the "man of my dreams". Tereza Burki, 47, paid Seventy Thirty Ltd £12,600 after she was assured they only dealt in "creme de la creme" matches, the High Court heard. But Judge Richard Parkes QC today ordered the agency to repay her fee, ruling that she had been "deceived" by Seventy Thirty's then managing director. It was found that whilst the agency boasted of ~7k members, only ~100 of them were men actively looking for love.
SEEKING ALPHA - Aug 15 - Momo is an $8B popular Chinese mobile dating and social networking company with a fast and profitable growth, strong track record and a huge addressable market. In February 2018, it acquired China's top dating app Tantan, the "Tinder of China" for $700M. Share price has recently suffered from negative rumors spread by short sellers and is currently offered at a bargain ahead of Q2 earnings: around 30% down from its 52-week high. Momo is likely to be very a volatile investment for the years to come. But it offers a great margin of safety at current price. Momo has been able to take a leading position in the live-streaming space after pivoting from its online dating core business. Credits to CEO Tang Yan who identified key trends ahead of time. Competition is fierce in China, between Momo, Weibo, Huya, Douyu or Panda.tv. Content is king, and many of these companies now work with talent agencies or sign exclusive deals with famous streamers to make sure users don't churn and flock to other platforms. Momo is focusing on retaining users and making its platform a great free experience. They add compelling features such as group chat. Tantan has ~20M MAU and growing. The app is only starting to monetize its audience similarly to Tinder with subscription and a la carte features such as 'superlikes' or 'see who likes me' kinds of products. Tantan might already be at a run-rate of $100M+ yearly revenue. Beyond online dating, Momo is also venturing into mobile gaming.
NEW YORK TIMES - Aug 15 - A new study about online dating published in the journal Science Advances studied the "desirability" of male and female users, based on how many messages users got over one month on a "popular, free online-dating service". The researchers determined that while men's sexual desirability peaks at age 50, women's starts high at 18 and falls from there. The study results echoed data shared by OkCupid in 2010, in which the service found that men from the ages of 22 to 30 focus almost entirely on women who are younger than them. OkCupid also reported that as a man gets older, he searches for relatively younger and younger women, while his upper acceptable age limit hovers just above his own age.
FORBES - Aug 15 - Bumble is launching Bumble Fund, a fund focused on investing in female-founded and female-led businesses. The fund, which Bumble says it has committed ~$1M to so far, will invest checks from $5k to $250k in companies that primarily serve women, with a focus on female founders from diverse backgrounds. Bumble's fund has already made commitments to a handful of businesses on an ad hoc basis. Those include prenatal and postpartum healthcare company Mahmee, beauty startup BeautyCon and swimwear startup Sofia Los Angeles, which was a winner of a pitch competition Bumble put on in the spring. Bumble also has invested in several female-focused investment funds including Female Founders Fund and Cleo Capital.
VENTURE BEAT - Aug 15 - Dating app Coffee Meets Bagel is giving users another way to sign in, as some remain wary about connecting to apps with their Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. They now have the option to sign in by providing a phone number instead. By August 20 all Android and iOS users will be able to choose between the two login options. Coffee Meets Bagel says it saw a 378% increase in the number of requests for alternative login options after the Cambridge Analytica news broke in March.
TECH CRUNCH - Aug 14 - A group of Tinder founders and executives has filed a lawsuit against parent company Match Group and its controlling shareholder IAC. The plaintiffs in the suit include Tinder co-founders Sean Rad, Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen who still works at Tinder, as do plaintiffs James Kim (the company's vice president of finance) and Rosette Pambakian (its vice president of marketing and communications). The suit alleges that IAC and Match Group manipulated financial data in order to create "a fake lowball valuation", then stripped Rad, Mateen, Badeen and others of their stock options. The lawsuit also alleges that Greg Blatt, the Match CEO who became CEO of Tinder, groped and sexually harassed Pambakian at the company's 2016 holiday party, supposedly leading the company to "whitewash" his actions long enough for him to complete the valuation of Tinder and its merger with Match Group, and then to announce his departure. The plaintiffs are asking for "compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than $2B."
Match Group statement: The allegations in the complaint are meritless, and IAC and Match Group intend to vigorously defend against them. Match Group and the plaintiffs went through a rigorous, contractually – defined valuation process involving two independent global investment banks, and Mr. Rad and his merry band of plaintiffs did not like the outcome. Mr. Rad and Mr. Mateen may not like the fact that Tinder has experienced enormous success following their respective departures. Mr. Rad has a rich history of outlandish public statements, and this lawsuit contains just another series of them. We look forward to defending our position in court.
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA - Aug 14 - Online provider of matrimony-related service Matrimony.com has strengthened its management at the senior-level, as part of its expansion plan. Prasad Nelliparthi has been appointed as its chief human resources officer with immediate effect. Uma Srinivasan has taken over as Head (Talent Acquisition). Karthik Jagannathan has been appointed as senior VP and head of MatrimonyBazaar.com. The expansion plan includes launch of Matrimony Photography, Matrimony Bazaar and Matrimony Mandap service.
YAHOO NEWS - Aug 14 - A lawsuit against Match Group includes an allegation of sexual misconduct against former CEO and Chairman Greg Blatt. The allegation was mentioned on page six of a lengthy complaint filed by Tinder's founders and early employees along with a handful of the dating app's current executives against Match Group and IAC, alleging a "scheme" to cheat them "out of billions of dollars by violating their contractual rights as option holders." The complaint goes on to accuse Blatt of groping and sexually harassing Tinder's VP of marketing and communications during and after Tinder's 2016 holiday party in LA. Defendants kept Blatt in place as Tinder's 'interim' CEO long enough to complete the private valuation and secret merger of Tinder. But just two weeks after their scheme concluded, defendants publicly announced Blatt's 'retirement' - rewarding him with a lucrative golden parachute.
LOS ANGELES TIMES - Aug 14 - India's Supreme Court is due to rule soon in a case challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex intercourse. Five years after the court surprised many by reinstating the law introduced by the British in 1860, Indian activists are optimistic that the ban on sexual intercourse described in the law as "against the order of nature" will be overturned once and for all. While no one has been prosecuted under Section 377, gay Indians say it causes them to live in fear and exposes them to blackmail and threats.
BUSINESS INSIDER - Aug 13 - A group of early Tinder employees, including cofounders Sean Rad and Jonathan Badeen, filed a lawsuit against IAC and Match Group, the owners of Tinder. They're seeking at ~$2B in damages. They're alleging that IAC undervalued Tinder, and used a lowball valuation based on false information to reduce the value of stock options that early employees and founders held. IAC put its own financial executives inside Tinder, who concluded that Tinder was worth less than the Tinder team thought it was.
DAILYMAIL.CO.UK - Aug 13 - Dating website BeautifulPeople.com accepts members based on their looks, and is now offering plastic surgery advice to those who are unsuccessful. The advice is from a plastic surgeon and costs $45. BeautifulPeople.com came up with the idea after its own founder, Greg Hodge, 43, was rejected by members. Mr Hodge, who founded the site in 2003, sent his photo to a surgeon and asked for honest feedback on his appearance. The surgeon recommended that Mr Hodge have Botox.
SEEKING ALPHA - Aug 13 - Even after a 17% rise following the most recent quarterly results, Match remains modestly valued. The latest subscriber numbers show that Tinder is not slowing down as initially expected. Past experience strongly suggests that Facebook Dating will not impact Match Group's business in a material way. The Match growth story is driven by three key realities: societal changes, a strong, sticky brand, and fantastic business economics. Best of all, Match spends very little on advertising because people know of its products through word-of-mouth. Assuming that earnings remain static forever at $450M, the entire company would be worth $11.25B at a 4% discount rate: $450M/4% = $11.25B. With such a long growth runway, though, it would be silly to think that this is it for earnings. At a market capitalization of just $12.3B, Match is almost certainly undervalued.