OPW INTERVIEW - Jan 3 - Gary Kremen, started it all. He’s the original CEO and the founder of Match.com. Here’s his story. - Mark Brooks
You founded Match.com in 1993. What was your original vision?
Our original vision was a dating service based on email. My genesis and idea was to find the right woman for myself. I had the idea that if I put all the women in the world in a database and sorted it on my criteria I’d find the right woman to marry.
How do you think the site has improved over the years?
Clearly the web and mobile interface has reached consumers and what they are doing today. Deeper databases, different ways of reaching...it has been improvement.
Back in 1996 you had a disagreement with the VC’s that were funding Match.com regarding serving alternative markets. What were the alternative markets?
I saw an opportunity. Match.com was about long-term relationships that were not considered casual dating. The long term relationships definitely could give online dating present value but I thought that short term relationships, gay/lesbian dating, different ethnic group targeting was the way to go. They were embarrassed by the whole thing.
Are you surprised by the level of innovations that has occurred since you started Match.com, one way or the other?
Match.com was not the first into mobile, not the first in using new technology/new platforms like Facebook. I would say that the innovation is at the rest of the market, not ahead of the market.
Internet dating really seems to be be moving onto the mobile phone. What do you think is going to be the next big move?
I think using GPS/location data to date more people around you and maybe social graph data.
If you were betting on a particular dating site which horse would you put your money on? Say we’re going to invest a couple of hundred thousand dollars.
I’ve been looking at Skout who have an interest in mobile product and more short term dating than long term but I don’t want disparage with any public bets. It’s a tougher business today because customer acquisitions costs are so high.
Skout sounds like a great horse. Tell us more about it.
They believed early on in using mobile location based data and using applications where the urban consumer would want to use it. I’ve been helping them out from time to time
So you do have an interest in getting back into the Internet dating arena?
I wouldn’t say that. I think there’s a time for everything and I think the time is gone for being the first mover. There’s other businesses out there that excite me, other technologies, other things that add different types of value to society.
So let’s move onto Sociogramics because that sounds very timely and another great cause. How does Sociogramics help the underbanked and those with little credit?
There’s a lot of borrowers out there, let’s call them fallen angels, underbanked that deserve credit that aren’t being given chances by traditional lending institutions. So we are trying to help traditional lending institutions by bringing back the importance of character to lending so people who want to pay back can. One of the things that we learned in this financial crisis is that there are a lot of people that didn’t. Can we go find people that really do want to pay back that aren’t given the chance? Character and community is the bottom line.