Going away for two weeks (10/21-11/7) had its drawbacks. Poor Sasha is in serious hug-deficit. I'll have to plan shorter trips next time round. Miami is the next big trip, for iDate in January.
I started my tour by jetting off to London to keynote at the White Label Dating / Global Personals annual partner conference. It was fascinating getting the inside-track on the company, attending their two day conference. They've had a tough year beating off scammers, and then elevating their conversion factors to new highs. They've done some especially innovative work turning their customer service department into a profit center.
Next I flew to Toronto, to meet with Justin and Annabelle of Fastlife.com. A company that I regard as simply the best and highest echelon speed dating company on the planet. They are super classy, and fun, and know how to run great events. Its always a bundle of fun hanging out and supping martinis with them.
I paid Noel at Avid Life Media a visit for sushi. I remember talking to Noel a few years back, before he acquired Hotornot and Eroticy, and started Ashley Madison. Boy, has he come through the ranks. Albeit with some controversial products. I was very surprised to visit his office and not find armed guards on the doors however.
The Toronto IDEA soiree went very well, and it was great catching up with Kris from Date.com, the Avid Life Media, Christian Cafe, Optimal Payments, and Fastlife teams, among others. We found a GREAT venue at the top of the city, and supped champagne, fireside.
My L.A. leg was marked with an interesting little visit with Spark Networks, and an extended jaunt at eHarmony to meet the CEO, tour the eHarmony Labs and meet with Arvind and Paul. Absolutely fascinating! Its so nice to see some true primary research coming from an internet matchmaking company. I wonder what Fernando would have made of it. :-)
I ran a little IDEA soiree in L.A. and spent some quality time with Match.com's new VP Communications. A great hire on Mandy's part! Also Jeff, the founder of Great Expectations. He's moved on to a new cause. I'm not allowed to talk about it, but I really like what he's working on.
A quick trip to Palm Springs next. Alas, I didn't have time to ride the Mt San Jacinto tram. The last time I was in Palm Springs was when Princess Diana died. I remember sitting poolside and reading the newspaper headline, 'Princess Diana, friends die.' That ruined the trip. What a loss. Anyway, Palm Springs rocks. I'll just have to take Irena back next time so we can go cross country skiing at the top of the mtn. I paid Conciant a visit. One to watch. They have an interesting offering in the works for idating companies.
Next, San Francisco to see Zoosk and meet Jeff Titterton. I first met Jeff at iDate Miami 2004. He was one of the best speakers the conference has ever had the pleasure of hosting. I also had the chance to catch up with Shayan and Alex over a quick lunch. They really regard Zoosk as a lifetime resource for singles, and are positioning it nicely with the PIM functionality.
I caught up with old friends in San Francisco, on the night of the SF Giants riots. What a crazy night to be in SF. Steve, Holly, MaryLou, Kevin, Joe, it was so nice to take in some food and catch up with you.
On to Dallas. Mandy is driving Match.com to new heights. $106 million last quarter! And I've no doubt her new VP Communications will help drive a new PR presence for the company. They strike me as a great team. Dallas treated me well. We found a classic Dallas seafood restaurant, courtesy of Zagat. I caught up with Trish from TRUE. The site is growing again, but most of the team are focused on AdShuffle these days. TRUE will be a nice acquisition target in a year or so.
Back in Tampa I met with my team, Nick and Shawn, and dined with my very good friend Pat, who runs Hearts2.com. Then headed back to London and Malta, for a squeeze with my girls.