NATIONAL POST - Apr 25 - Tech companies are investing big bucks and testing what they see as digital dating 2.0: virtual reality. vTime is a free app that offers experiences like virtual comedy clubs, co-gaming experiences and art galleries. Elitist dating app The League is testing "Love Without Limits," a collaboration with Oculus and River Studios, to throw VR blind date parties across America. Cerevrum, which traditionally created apps to help improve public speaking skills, now has a VR dating training course. eHarmony predicts we'll regularly go on full-sensory VR dates by 2040.
CNBC - Apr 3 - eHarmony collects a ton of data from its 10M users to feed its matching algorithms. eHarmony's users rank humor as highly as loyalty, kindness and affection. "Everybody says sense of humor is the number two or three thing they want in a partner and yet no-one's ever matched on it," said eHarmony CEO Grant Langston. eHarmony has conducted research to find out how that plays into compatibility. Participants watched 30 half minute videos and looked at images, rating them on how funny they think they were, and were assigned a type of humor.
Women who appreciated 'wit-word play' and 'self-deprecating' humor were most likely to score a second date. However, women who scored high on an appreciation for 'surreal' and 'topical' humor did not do as well. Men who appreciated 'improvisational humor' were most likely to score a second date. Men who appreciated 'observational' and 'surreal' humor were less successful. Having a shared level of appreciation for 'surreal humor,' 'dark humor,' or 'observational humor' was correlated closely with a successful first date.
PR NEWSWIRE - Mar 30 - eHarmony Premium helps people to:
eHarmony Premium starts at $30 a month on top of the eHarmony standard price. In the coming year, eHarmony plans to release additional tiers and services to Premium.
CONSUMERIST - Mar 23 - Married travelers overwhelmed British Airways promotions on dating sites Match.com and eHarmony. The Match.com promotion offered 150 British Airways frequent flier points for every dollar spent by a new member on the dating site. While Match is only intended to be used by singles, that didn’t stop married travelers from trying to rack up points with fake Match profiles. One U.S. customer paid $215 to the site, earning 32,250 points. In another promotion, BA loyalty members could earn 130 Avios points for every dollar spent with eHarmony. British Airways had to cancel the promotions just a few days after they launched in early March, refunding customers and retracting newly-earned points. Match.com blamed the split on an affiliated promoter who launched the promo without authorization. Match said it had no idea about the offer until the signups started rolling in.
OPW - Mar 14 - Tom Peters wrote "In Search of Excellence" in 1982 and one of his core observations was that excellent companies were good at 'sticking to their knitting.' In that vein, eHarmony appears to be focusing down now. Elevated Careers is on the block according to this article, and eH+ is an experiment concluded. I asked Grant Langston for comment about eH+, which is eHarmony's traditional matchmaking service.
"eH+ was a pilot program that we ran from January 2015 until December of 2016. It used matchmakers and our database to provide intensive, personalized compatibility matching. We learned a great deal about a segment of the market that is quite different from the typical eHarmony segment. We started the service at a $5000 a year fee, and quickly found that the customers wanted more services and amenities. The eH+ program was eventually selling subscriptions for $25,000 to $30,000 and providing a suite of very high-end services. Needless to say the customer base was exclusive and affluent.
After considerable discussion we decided that eH+ was not in keeping with eHarmony's mission of providing compatibility matching to a diverse population at a reasonable cost. We had also learned through eH+ of ways we could provide similar services at a more reasonable price. We have an exciting new offering coming soon and we'll be sure to keep you in the loop."
Matchmaking is a tough business to scale, and a very different business than Internet dating. In April I'm headed to the Matchmakers Conference to go through their matchmaker training course. Anyone want to join me? Use MMICON2017MB for a 25% discount on the matchmakers conference and/or certification.
SHRM - Mar 13 - Ten months after eHarmony launched Elevated Careers, a site for job seekers, it is putting that site up for sale, citing lack of experience in the HR technology market. With Elevated Careers, the company had hoped to use its special matching algorithm to match job seekers with jobs and companies. The Elevated Careers site displays the message "Under renovation. Coming back soon!"
FINANCIAL REVIEW - Mar 9 - Grant Langston is the first CEO who's recorded half-a-dozen albums, toured Europe with his band, the Supermodels, played as a warm-up act to Ben Harper and written music for TV and film, including the HBO series True Blood. Langston balances his musical career with being CEO of eHarmony. Australia is eHarmony's second-largest market and accounts for ~9% of its revenue. The site has 750k paid subscribers here. "It's been neglected for too long," he says. According to IBISWorld, Australian online dating revenues have doubled in the past decade to $147M but this counts only revenue for Australian companies such as RSVP, not foreign sites such as eHarmony or Match.com. "The biggest challenge eHarmony has had is resting on its laurels," says Langston. "I arrived with a long list of things I wanted to do". People are more price sensitive now than they were 10 years ago. We want to be on the side of providing so much value that the price was worth it." The questionnaire continues to distinguish eHarmony from other sites. eHarmony is now exploring humour questions and Facebook data as other information that could be added to the way it matches couples. In the future, Langston expects there could be matches made based on DNA.
Q: What part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?
A: I'm up about 6am. I have two small children and I work hard to make the mornings about connecting with them and my wife.
Q: What apps do you use to be more productive?
A: WunderlistWunderlist: The best to-do list I've ever seen.
Evernote: I use this as a filing cabinet for personal items.
iXpenseIt: To track expenses.
IFTTT: Another little tool for shortcuts.
CloudBeats: I've put my large music collection in Dropbox and CloudBeats lets me play it.
SeatGuru: If you travel a lot, it's a great way to avoid ending up in the quirky seat that will hurt your back.
Q: How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?
A: This varies greatly. One of the things I like most about this role is the wide range of possibilities.
Q: What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?
A: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. This is the book for the wartime CEO.
Q: What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?
A: Find a place that's doing the work you want to do, preferably a company that's small and struggling, and reach out to them.
Q: Are you sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?
A: I've learned to be sensitive to that.
Q: If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?
A: If I only had one question I would pick someone who went through the most dire circumstance, Abraham Lincoln. The question would be: "What's the best want to enjoy life and maintain perspective when the pressure is on and the chips are down?"
I see so many leaders consumed by their fight. They seem to be hating every minute of their work life. There's a real skill to having fun when times are hard.
BUSINESS INSIDER - Feb 18 - Historically, eHarmony has not thought of swipe-based apps as competitors, since they tend to cater to more casual daters. But there are plenty of people who now use those apps to look for long-term partners — on Tinder it's 80% of users. By last count, eHarmony has ~750k paid subscribers and 10M active users, which is about the same number it's had since 2012. Tinder, meanwhile, has ~1M premium users and 50M people using the app. eHarmony CEO says business is still strong, even if it's not growing. His primary goal for 2017 is to increase user satisfaction. The company is currently a research into people's senses of humor to incorporate that into its matching algorithm. The company is also making other small fixes attempt to help the app feel fresher.
LEXOLOGY - Feb 13 - The UK IPO refused an application of Robert Magill to register the mark "matchedharmony" in relation to "online dating via a website; dating services". The opposition was filed by A.A. Thornton & Co. on behalf of eHarmony. The opposition was based on eHarmony's registered rights in the mark eHarmony as well as their common law rights.
FORTUNE - Feb 14 - Over the years, eHarmony has added photos and made its clunky interface easier to navigate. That, however, hasn't stopped Tinder and Bumble from stealing users away. "People do end up on those sites looking for relationships, and we see that as our challenge," says eHarmony CEO Grant Langston. Langston says users like the "swipe friendly" dating apps because they are "cheap and easy." But they don't have 16 years worth of rich data. eHarmony collects demographic data, psychographic data (likes, interests and habits), and behavioral data (actions taken on the site). eHarmony's research team also conducts research on couples who met through the site. eHarmony's in-house psychologists and data scientists feed that information into machine learning algorithms that help match compatible users. "That data lets us optimize the site and the process for a number of variables," Langston says.
BBC.COM - Feb 14 - Use of online dating site eHarmony spiked by 35% in the US in the days that followed the Republican's victory. Grant Langston, CEO of eHarmony, said that the increase in activity on his site was reminiscent of those seen after the 9/11 attacks. "When times get unpredictable, people just want to be with someone," he said.
SF CHRONICLE - Feb 13 - Innovators like to envision a future in which technology will streamline, simplify and democratize love in its many phases - from dating to sex to marriage and even heartbreak. Virtual reality and apps can be used to simulate sex and intimacy. Facebook last year introduced a "take a break" function that allows people getting over romantic relationships to control how much they do or don't see of their ex. Others online dating services uses biometrics and science to match people. eHarmony CEO Grant Langston said the company will incorporate more advanced scientific tools. "I can see a day where people take a swab of their cheek to get a DNA-level analysis of what they would be attracted to," he said. Some dating sites/apps are getting people to put down their devices and meet in person. "You won't get a sense of that real chemistry until you're meeting face-to-face," said Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of the Match Group. Lesbian dating app Her started hosting in-person events last year.
CNBC - Feb 10 - eHarmony, the 16 year old company, still uses an extensive questionnaire with 150 questions. Founder and former CEO Dr. Neil Clark Warren is still seen in TV ads. New eHarmony CEO Grant Langston admitted: "The way we do it has been frozen in time." He said an antiquated communication process had left the product feeling dusty. Langston has been trying to make the use of eHarmony easier. One change is letting people take the questionnaire a little at a time.
MASHABLE - Feb 8 - According to this TED-Ed video, all five our senses play a role when it comes to physical attraction. Sight is the most obvious, though the perception of visual beauty can change dramatically once someone starts talking. More and more, however, attraction is being defined by the way someone makes us feel, and that is driven by how two people spark off each other. It can be that undefined reason why we instinctively flirt with one person and not another. According to eHarmony's study of ~1K Australian singles, the three ingredients for 'the spark' include: Easy flow of conversation, how much the person makes you laugh and how quickly you feel at ease around them. 50% of Australian singles expect sparks to fly by the end of the first date, and only 12% believe it's something that can develop over time. Long term happiness seems to blossom when there is more similarity.
SMART COMPANY - Feb 6 - How do eHarmony and Aussie RSVP get customers to pay? RSVP offers low barriers to entry to acquire users. People can search, view profiles and express interest for free. eHarmony provides a much more limited experience for non-paying customers. Once people have joined, the sites work hard to convert users to paying customers. They use tension to drive conversion by withholding something of value. eHarmony withholds access to photos and RSVP withholds the ability to correspond. The key is to hold something back that customers value so you can entice them to upgrade. Both eHarmony and RSVP have been careful about how they present pricing options to their customers. Rather than spelling out the total price, customers are presented with the cost per month (eHarmony) and cost per bundle of "stamps" (RSVP). Use sequencing and cost per unit to advantage where possible. Use design to attract attention. RSVP uses a more vividly coloured and boxed design to drag customer attention toward the Premium membership option. Also, a great way to overcome customer anxiety about a purchase is to offer a guarantee.
OPW - Jan 26 - The 2017 iDate Awards winners were announced and provided trophies at a ceremony last night in Miami. The iDate Awards are the dating industry's most recognized awards, highlighting the best and most innovative aspects of the business.
The 2017 winners are:
Best Niche Dating Site:
Best Dating Coach:
Best Payment System:
Best Dating Site:
Best Product Design:
Best Marketing Campaign:
Best Software & Saas:
Andrea Messent (Drawing Down the Moon)
Best Up & Coming Dating Site:
Best Mobile Dating App:
Most Innovative Company:
Best New Technology:
Smart Match App
OPW - Jan 11 - In an open letter to its members, Grant Langston, CEO of eHarmony, announced more new changes to their communication system that will be coming this month. He admitted that eHarmony's communication platform was too old and could not keep up with mobile expectations. Kudos to Grant for listening to eHarmony's users, and making some big changes.
WASHINGTON POST - Jan 9 - Jolliff, 29, has been blind since birth due to what's known as Leber Congenital Amaurosis. She can distinguish lights from darks, and her seeing-eye dog helps her navigate the world. Yet her dog can't help her swipe right or left on Tinder. So she seeks romance elsewhere. Last fall, Jolliff signed up for eHarmony and OkCupid. "I want the 'deeper' connection. I like being able to see how much effort a guy is willing to put into crafting his profile." Both Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel, two popular dating apps, have done little to accommodate the blind or visually impaired community. Tinder's VP of global communications branding, Rosette Pambakian, declined to comment, saying she didn't think it "makes sense" to include Tinder in a story about visually impaired daters. Dawoon Kang, COO of Coffee Meets Bagel, said she hadn't given blind or visual impairments much consideration. But she's open to it.
Mark Brooks: This Washington Post reporter appears to have not appreciated Tinder's refusal to comment. Granted, its not the easiest question to handle. This is where the help of a trusted intermediary can come in handy. When I handle press calls for my clients I act as an analyst, and am quoted as such. The press trust me to guide them to the right spokespeople, and to guide them on the 'fit' of their subject matter. Please see CourtlandBrooks.com.