USA TODAY - July 15 - Match.com and SinglesCruise.com partners to offer special trips during Halloween and New Year. While the ship sailings are open to the public, those who book through Match.com's blog, Up to Date, or through singlescruise.com will have access to special events and a private message board to meet fellow single passengers on their trip. Pricing starts at $1,181 per person.
USA TODAY - June 30 - Tinder is being sued for sexual harassment and discrimination by Whitney Wolfe, former marketing VP. In the suit, she alleges Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen stripped Wolfe of her co-founder title, telling her that having a "24‐year-old girl" as a co-founder made the company "seem like a joke." Wolfe also alleges Mateen called her a "whore" in front of CEO Sean Rad.
USA TODAY - May 20 - Match.com and Three Day Rule announce partnership to get Match into high-dollar matchmaking. eHarmony launched eH+ ($5k service) matchmaking in Jan. "They've got very significant market shares. Between them, they own the industry, and where do they go from there?" dating industry analyst Mark Brooks says. "They have two problems — a limited number of people left to reach and a limited price point."
Matchmaking has exploded in the past few years. Bravo's The Millionaire Matchmaker and other copycats have targeted the professional who has plenty of money but not enough time to hunt for a relationship. Traditional dating sites, which have millions of daters, haven't tried to reach this profitable market until now. Match.com gets a cut from each customer at Three Day Rule, says Sam Yagan, CEO of Match Group. Three Day Rule has matchmakers in New York, L.A., Chicago and San Francisco and will add matchmakers in Dallas, Boston and Washington by the end of the year. Six months costs $5k.
USA TODAY - Mar 27 - As mobile dating proliferates, the focus no longer is just on daters leery of scams or sexual predators but also on keeping their location confidential. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced legislation requiring companies to get customers' permission before collecting location data off their mobile devices and sharing it with others. It's a move that would greatly affect dating sites and apps.
USA TODAY - Jan 26 - Mobile video communication is one of the latest trends in online dating and is the focus of a number of services including Dating.fm, Flikdate, VideoDate, View N Me and Instamour. "Skype started the whole genre change and FaceTime took it into mobile," says Marc Lesnick, founder of iDate. "FaceTime already proves that the model works." Mobile video communication is made with advances in mobile technology and allows for a limited first date experience without the full commitment of an in-person meeting.
USA TODAY - Nov 4 - Online daters prefer to contact those of the same race, but new research by sociologist Kevin Lewis of the University of California, San Diego suggests that online daters are often more willing to respond to interest from someone of another race. Lewis finds the strongest within-race contact among Asians and the weakest among whites. White women respond mostly to white men. Black daters tend to be ignored when they contact non-blacks. AYI.com found Asian women the most preferred by all men except Asians – who prefer Hispanic women.
USA TODAY - Aug 2 - Founded by University of South California graduates Sean Rad and Justin Mateen, Tinder focuses on the power of first impressions. The main thrill is the lack of rejection. As they swipe through profiles, users never know whether they've been rejected or just haven't come across another user's recommended feed yet, and none of the activity is ever posted to their Facebook account. Since its launch in Sep 2012, Mateen says Tinder has seen 100M matches and 7.5 billion profile ratings. "At first around 80% of our users were 18-24, now 67% are 18-24 and we are seeing more in the 25-34 range joining," Mateen said. Match.com has only 25% of users under 30.
USA TODAY - July 18 - Casual, easy and non-threatening — the simple beauty of SMS. For dating, it has given rise to new ways of flirting and even defining exactly what's going on between two people. Hearing someone's voice on the phone is still a key element for a relationship, yet people are increasingly more likely to rely on the relative "safety" of a text for initial contacts. An Independent research firm conducted a survey in May for ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com. One third of singles agree it's less intimidating to ask for a date via SMS, the survey found. One in four say an hour is the longest acceptable response time to a text. According to Nielsen, 764 SMS per person were sent/received each month in the USA in 2012, compared with 165 mobile calls per month.
USA TODAY - May 7 - Co-founder of DateMySchool.com, Alexa built the dating website in 2010 with Jean Meyer for peers at Columbia University where they attended business school. Since then, the college- and alum-exclusive service has expanded to ~ 230K students in 2,800 colleges. The duo launched iPhone, iPad and Android applications last month. "Once they've seen these people are just college kids they're much more open and receptive," Gobiel said. "You then know there won't be these creepy people you might find on other websites."
USA TODAY - Apr 23 - MeetAtTheAirport.com allows solo travelers to arrange meet-ups with strangers. The website has just soared to the 80K-member mark. A similar site, Planely.com, matches members who are taking the same flight. And KLM Airlines has a "Meet & Seat" option for flights to and from Amsterdam that lets participating passengers link up via social media.
USA TODAY - Apr 15 - Tinder, the mobile dating app that allows users to 'like' or 'pass' on other users, seems to have inspired a new generation of apps. ExRated, founded by Tom Padazana, allows users to search for a particular love interest and see what past partners have to say. Rebound is an app that privately analyzes available data about your single Facebook friend's past relationships in the last six years. The app generates statistics, a rebound rating and advice for any friend you choose. Lulu app is the ultimate female resource where women can get this information. To date, ~4M reviews have been read and Lulu has ~35M profiles available in the app. LuluDude allows guys to get general feedback about where they stand among other guys. They can also upload their own photos and encourage female friends to boost their ratings.
USA TODAY - Feb 13 - The mobile dating revenue is projected to double over the next five years ($415M). There is a site for everybody, many with their own apps as well. The niches range from ethnic, religious or age-based to sites for occupations (FarmersOnly.com) or eating preferences (VeggieDate.org). For gay men, there's Grindr.com and Stagg, DateMyPet for pet lovers. With the dating industry moving so rapidly, the phrase "online dating" will soon disappear from the lexicon, says Sam Yagan, CEO of Match. "The idea of differentiating online and offline in five years will be anachronistic," he says. Nielsen reports that the number of Americans using apps or a mobile version of a dating site was 13.7M in November 2012, more than double the previous year's 5.8M. Mark Brooks, a consultant who has studied the industry from its infancy, says the online and mobile dating industry is more than just a business: "Going from where it is now and where it's going to be in the next 20 or 30 years time, I'd be hard-pressed to think of a business -- outside of the medical industry -- that will have more impact on society."
USA TODAY - Feb 5 - According to a survey conducted by MarketTools for Match.com 42% of respondents would not date a virgin, 65% would not date someone with credit card debt greater than $5K. 49% would consider getting into a committed relationship with someone who lived at home with parents. Among the "must haves," women want respect and men want someone in whom to trust and confide; both rate a sense of humor as key qualities for a partner. When judging a potential date, both men and women rate teeth at the top, followed by grammar. 28% say they've dated someone they met online, 48% of gay men and lesbian women have dated someone they met online.
USA TODAY - Jan 23 - In his new book, Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating, writer Dan Slater argues that online dating has changed society profoundly.
Q: What is it about online dating today that you believe has made such a big difference?
A: It's the vast expansion of the dating pool. People tended to be moving from one relationship to the next a lot faster than they seemed to before online dating existed.
Q: You suggest that online dating has made relationships more disposable. Why?
A: It made a lot more people feel they are part of a larger mating pool than they were used to.
Q: How much science is really involved in matching people the way online dating does?
A: Online dating does seem to be improving at is the likelihood of two strangers getting along well on a first date. The psychological science has not provided the ability to predict long-term compatibility between a couple who have never met.
Q: How did you meet your wife, Sophie?
A: I used a total of two sites through which I dated on and off about 12 months.Sophie and I actually met in a yoga class in January 2009. I asked her out, but she had a boyfriend. We went our separate ways for 2½ years. Then we reconnected on Facebook.
USA TODAY - Jan 17 - Facebook is becoming an online love connection — or maybe a meat market. Facebook's new Graph Search, in limited beta release, extends searches for singles on the network to friends of friends. The new feature, primarily for finding what friends "Like" from music to food and more, is expected to be available more widely over the next few months. It offers a speedy way to sort potential mates. Men will be able to hunt for single women who live in their locale and like a particular taco stand, action movies and sports teams, for example. Dating norms, however, have already taken root on Facebook. People have long-perused the photos and postings of members in the game of attraction, says Julie Spira, a digital-dating maven who runs CyberDatingExpert.com. "It's the world's largest social network, and they could be the world's largest dating network if they want to go there," Spira said. The Search Graph, for now, only culls "Like" selections and has yet to tap into profiles or News Feed data.
This post also appears on SocialNetworkingWatch.
USA TODAY - Dec 3 - The latest trend in online dating? Going offline as fast as you can. AARP is launching an idating service in partnership with HowAboutWe. 25% of AARP's 37M members are single and over half of the singles are under 70. Online dating industry consultant Mark Brooks says the AARP move into dating seems smart. "Seniors is a very good niche. Most dating sites skew toward guys, with more guys than women. But senior dating sites have more women. Being a 75 year old single man is the equivalent of being a 21year old hottie."
Older sites such as Match.com and newer ones such as DinnerDate, CupidRadar and Grouper, all are focusing on the importance of a personal connection offline. "I cringe a little when people describe it as online dating," said Michael Waxman, co-founder and CEO of Grouper. The typical experience for a Grouper member is to spend ~5 minutes on our website and ~2 hours at a bar with your friends." By the end of this year, Match.com say the site will have hosted ~ 2K events with 150K singles. PlentyofFish, a free online site, also hosts facetoface events.
USA TODAY - July 18 - Miss Travel is a new dating service that matches travelers with companions. The majority of the site membership is generous men (27,000) who fund the travel, and attractive women. The site also has a sizable gay population. The site launched in April and has grown to 100,000 members. According to founder Brandon Wade, 74% of online daters queried had traveled with or traveled to meet face-to-face with someone they met online.
USA TODAY - Feb 14 - For Noel Biderman and others who have founded dating websites for married people, it's a lucrative business. "The day after Valentine's Day is one of our biggest days of the year," says Biderman, founder and CEO of AshleyMadison (AM). Some of the sites are based in Europe and increasingly have become international, with their eye on the USA. "American people are really hypocrites about infidelity," says Teddy Truchot, co-founder of Gleeden, which launched in Europe in 2009, moved into Australia and entered the U.S. market last fall. "Everything from the U.S. which comes to Europe is about infidelity," says Truchot. "You see cheating all over TV and in real life." Data from 2010 from the General Social Survey shows that 19% of men and 14% of women reported ever having had an extramarital partner. AM earns well over $60M a year, suggests online dating industry analyst Mark Brooks. Biderman says that estimate is "on target," but he's expecting greater revenue this year ($100M). Industry tracker Brooks counts well over 30 cheating websites. He is quick to disclose that he has been a paid consultant for many online dating services, including those he calls "philanderer sites." "The philandering sites are specific to people who are wanting to be discreet," he says. "As much as I abhor these sites, they do actually do something good for the industry. People can be who they are on the philanderer sites," he says, rather than have married people claiming to be single, which happens on singles dating sites, he says. Biderman says it took five years to get the first 1M anonymous members. Currently, ~2.3M are registered and considered active by logging in or taking an action within the past 30 days. Brooks says he's surprised that in 10 years, Biderman's site hasn't had a lot of direct competition. Part of it, he says, is that "people don't like to start that kind of business." But Gleeden is ready to take that on.
USA TODAY - Mar 14 - On TheJMom.com, it's Jewish mothers — not singles — who are making connections, trying to find potential mates for their kids. Users, who don't have to be moms even though most are, write about their families and can upload pictures of themselves and their single children. They also fill out profile information with their child's name, age, location, education, occupation and religious background, and write about their kid's interests. Since the site was launched in Dec, 60 dates have been established and 500 people have signed on as users.
by Piet Levy
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