SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - Sep 24 - When it comes to dating, Chinese men are most interested in what women look like, while women want to know about a man's income. Primary-school teachers and nurses are in high demand among men, while women favour men in IT or finance. That's according to Dr Song Li, founder of Zhenai.com, one of China's biggest matchmaking sites. Zhenai.com says it has 120M registered users, and ~50K new users join the dating every day. Zhenai.com offers two services: a "self-service dating service" where members pay 400 yuan ($60) a year to browse members' profiles, chat and arrange dates; the other is a more exclusive offline, face-to-face matchmaking service that costs 4K yuan for six months. Zhenai has 50 matchmaking centres in 37 cities across China, and Li says he expects the company to generate 1.5B yuan in revenue and 200M yuan in net profit this year.
BUSINESSWIRE - Sep 20 - The Meet Group is acquiring Lovoo, a social dating app, for $70M in cash, inclusive of a $5M contingent earn-out. Lovoo is a social and mobile technology company based in Germany, #1 dating app in German speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) in terms of app store downloads. Lovoo has €27.2M in revenues (based on Subscriptions 48%; In-app Purchases 24%; Ads 28%); 5M monthly active users and 1.9M daily active users; 47k new global registrations per day; and 97 full-time employees spread across Dresden and Berlin. The Company expects that Lovoo will remain a separate brand and standalone mobile app following the closing of the acquisition, and that Lovoo's headquarters will remain in Dresden, Germany. The Meet Group's portfolio includes MeetMe, Skout, Tagged, and Hi5.
WEBWIRE - Sep 18 - Roman Kirsanov, head of brand management at NSI Holdings Ltd, will speak on brand and portfolio management for driving growth in online dating. Roman develops dating brands such as Cupid.com, LoveAgain.com, UniformDating.com, SpeedDater.co.uk, and will share insights on activities that engage audiences online.
TECH CRUNCH - Sep 20 - M8 is a dating app that's powered by human matchmakers. With M8, friends can look through dating apps to find the perfect match for their friends. And if they're successful, they can be rewarded with gifts. Stephen Liu, co-founder and CEO said that he had the idea because he and his wife started dating after a friend vouched for him. So he co-founded the platform with his wife, Linda. So far, they've raised ~$700k for their startup idea. LegalZoom co-founder Brian Liu and Alibaba Group VP Brian Wong are amongst the angel investors.
SINGULARITY HUB - Sep 19 - In an interview at Singularity University's Global Summit in San Francisco, J. Galen Buckwalter said the quantitative study of personality is finding new tech applications. Buckwalter developed the matching algorithm at eHarmony and is now chief technology officer at psyML. His work focuses on the quantitative analysis of personality traits and how a better understanding of human behavior can lead to more human technology. Watch the interview in full for more on psychometrics, current and future applications in technology, and where the pioneer of online dating met his wife.
PR NEWSWIRE - Sep 19 - POF users can now retrieve unread messages and send responses via the Assistant on Google Home and phones. The voice integration allows users to ask the Google Assistant if they have new messages, which it will then read aloud to the individual as they go about their daily routine. Users can speak with POF via the Google Assistant by saying, "Ok Google, talk to Plenty of Fish."
TECH CRUNCH - Sep 19 - Hinge is introducing a new, standalone app called Hinge Matchmaker that will allow people to see which of their friends are on Hinge, and then make recommendations by suggesting potential matches. The new app is more of an experiment at this time, meant to gauge consumer interest in this type of service.
SIXTH TONE - Sep 19 - The Communist Youth League, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and the National Health and Family Planning Commission issued a joint directive on Monday requiring dating sites to keep a record of their users' real identities. The regulation came nearly two weeks after Jiayuan.com fell under scrutiny for the suicide of tech entrepreneur Su Xiangmao. The 37-year-old founder of the Skype-like app WePhone jumped to his death from his Beijing apartment building earlier this month. In a suicide note he posted online, Su accused his ex-wife, Zhai Xinxin, whom he met through Jiayuan.com, of driving him to despair and desperation.
OPW INTERVIEW - Sep 18 - I've known of Besedo for several years now. They've been diligently serving the dating industry for all those years, and have recently merged with IOSquare to provide a more intelligent and cost-effective means of doing User Generated Content review. Of course, this is a high priority for dating sites to clean up profiles and photos, and protect against abuse, scammers, spammers, the obscene and the obnoxious. Users want a high quality experience without the surprise of finding noxious profiles and content and communications. So Besedo is doing well and have managed to service and maintain the loyalty of Meetic (Match Group) for 5 years, no less. Here's my interview with the CEO, Patrik Frisk. (Full Disclosure: Besedo is a Courtland Brooks client) - Mark Brooks
What does Besedo do?
Besedo is a company that was founded on the principle of helping our clients create trust between their users. Essentially what we do is we help clients with content moderation and customer support. We’ve been doing that for over fifteen years.
What is your founding story?
The principle has always been that we are wanting to help our clients to generate trust between their users. Our founder started the company over fifteen years ago here in Sweden. We have always been working in the marketplaces and with dating companies. We have been quite focused on classifieds. That's how we got started; that's how we got into the business. Over the years, the red thread has always been content moderation, creating quality content, making sure that we fight fraud, and all the issues around that. That's what we've been focusing on. We have been working quite anonymously over the last several years; focusing quite a lot on bigger players. Over the last two to three years, we have opened our product strategy and are focusing on smaller clients. I hope we make a lot more noise over what we do and what we know about.
How have things improved and changed?
If we go back, we started by doing services, manual moderation primarily. We did manual content moderation before it was even a term out there. Over the years, we added a lot of technology to support our manual services. Over the last two to three years, we have had a hard focus on building a technology platform that helps us to be even more efficient.
Who are your testimonial clients?
Within the dating world, we have quite a few clients. The most notable ones are Match Meetic Group and Affinitas.
How long has Meetic been with you?
Meetic has been with us for years. (5 years and 1 month in total)
What is the sweet spot, in terms of client size, for Besedo?
The good thing now, Mark, is that we have the capability to handle a variety of clients. We are a company of roughly 600 people. A lot of those are moderators and agents. We also have a lot of analysts and various other roles, including trust and safety experts. We can really form ourselves around the client's needs. We have products that are suited for the large players with huge volumes, and we have products that are also suited for the smaller ones. Our focus is marketplaces and dating companies; companies that really want to make sure that they have quality content and have created a user platform that is built on trust.
What is your price spectrum, roughly?
We're probably not the cheapest out there, but we are very affordable for the quality that you are getting. We are not competing primarily on cost. We are competing on the quality that we provide, and the comprehensive services that we provide. We are leveraging the experience we have gained over fifteen years, all the data that we sit on, and the collective number of clients that we have.
Over the next year or so, what are your goals for the dating industry?
For the dating industry, we want to continue to develop our services and adapt them to specific problems they face. To that end, we will place a lot of focus on dating-specific services. That is one of our goals. We want to grow, as any company wants to do. We also value the relationship we have with our clients, so we cannot grow too fast. However, we are looking to expand. We are very strong in Europe, Asia, and South America. The U.S. is very interesting and will be a focus for the coming year.
DIGIDAY - Sep 18 - After years of resistance, eHarmony is ready to commit to social media. eHarmony is recruiting marketers to turn the medium, which it has previously used for brand building, into a direct-response channel. CEO, Grant Langston, plans to expand its marketing team. "We have all these [search, display, affiliate and social] functions, but we want to bring in fresh perspectives and try new tricks," added Langston. He was coy about what those "new tricks" could be but revealed the lifestyle articles it publishes on social networks such as Facebook are its "best-performing tool." eHarmony's most recent social media efforts have focused on brand building by using humor.
OUT.COM - Sep 17 - Chappy is one of the latest dating apps to hit the gay scene. It allows users to filter out "Mr. Right" from "Mr. Right Now."
Q: How did you guys come up with the idea for Chappy?
A: I asked why is every platform only about hookups? Why is it not about dating? And we came together and made Chappy.
Q: How do you see Chappy fitting into this new era of online dating?
A: I think all of us generally want safer, more responsible choices about what we want in relationships, hookups, spontaneous weekends, whatever we're looking for.
Q: What else is in store for the app?
A: Chappy is different because we're trying to make it a lifestyle app as well. We want you to be on the app once you've found someone.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - Sep 15 - A luxury matchmaking service, The Bevy, has launched in San Francisco. The Bevy, started in New York in 2014, compares its services to an executive search. It pre-screens and interviews potential candidates before setting up its male clients with a handful of curated contenders. The membership begins at $25k for a one-year. The company reports a 95% success rate. Three Day Rule has 8k members. Services for paying clients start at $4.5k, but the service also has a free database. 60% of it's clients are female. Both companies report that clients are seeking relief from dating apps. Still, free dating apps can be an equalizer. The newest such offering to San Francisco is The Inner Circle, an app founded in Amsterdam in 2012, whose founder, David Vermeulen, is looking for "inspiring and ambitious" members who are 25 - 45 and live in major cities.
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ADWEEK - Sep 12 - As a way to poke fun at the absurdities of online dating, Bumble and Austin, Texas-based creative company Preacher parked a branded food truck called "The Great Catch" at three busy intersections in New York last week, offering free catfish dishes that were created by Top Chef talent Sam Talbot. The fun stunt promoted the app's photo verification tool that uses facial recognition to eliminate catfishing. Users can submit a selfie of themselves and then the technology determines if the photo matches the profile photo. It's not the first time that Bumble has created a physical pop-up. This summer, the app created a space called the Hive for people to hang out.
TUCSONWEEKLY - Sep 14 - Whitney Linscott's friends once bet her she couldn't get 1,000 Tinder matches in a single night. 1,069 matches later, she had won the bet and realized that there was a problem. She teamed up with Shannon White and launched Bracket, a new dating app. Each day, the user starts off with 16 potential matches based on age, geographic location and gender preference. Users then ask two potential matches silly icebreaker questions generated by Bracket and eliminate the less interesting choice, moving the other pick to the next round. At the end of all the brackets, users end up with one match, and a chat unlocks between two people. Only one connection can be made each day.
WOMENLOVETECH - Sep 14 - CrushTime is Happn's new feature which allows users to discover other users with hyper-geolocation technology. The app displays a timeline of the people they have crossed path during the day. CrushTime was developed after a design thinktank session held with Google. The feature is currently available to female users, and will be available to male users in coming weeks. It's a simple little game that's meant to give users a fun new way to find potential matches.
FINANCIAL EXPRESS - Sep 12 - The IPO of Matrimony.com was subscribed by 4.4 times on the last day of the issue, with investors bidding for 1.23 crore shares of the 28.11 lakh shares on offer.
This post also appear on InternetDatingInvestments.
ELLE - Sep 13 - According to a new report out from MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber, 71% of Tinder users believe political differences are a deal-breaker, 60% of people on Match.com report they're not as open to a relationship across political lines as they were just two years ago, and OkCupid has discovered a 30% increase in users' desire for "same politics" over "good sex."