SPARK.NET - Aug 10 - Spark Networks has entered into an agreement with PEAK6 Investments which saw a significant potential in Spark's Jewish and Christian brands. PEAK6 purchased 5M shares for $7.8M and owns now 16% of Spark's outstanding shares. PEAK6 executive Danny Rosenthal will become CEO and will join the board of Directors. PEAK6 Chief Architect David Budworth will become CTO, PEAK6 CMO Lisa McLafferty will become Chief Revenue Officer. PEAK6 President Brad Goldberg will join the Board of Directors.
Spark's Q2 Revenue was $9.1M, down 26% YOY. Net income was $329k, an YOY increase of $424k and a $3.7M increase from the prior quarter. Returns on direct marketing spend have improved. Every dollar in direct marketing spent has resulted in ~$5 in revenue in the Christian network segment (compared to $1.3 in Q2 2014). In the last few months, JSwipe began selling paid subscriptions which now represent 3% of total Jewish network's paid subscriber base.
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
BW DISRUPT - Aug 10 - Woo has ~3M downloads and is currently a leading dating-matchmaking app in India. Woo was founded by U2opia Mobile in 2010 and was launched in July, 2014 by Sumesh Menon and Ankit Nautiyal. TagSearch, one of the key features of the app, allows users to view profiles based on attributes such as the city they live in or the profession they're in. Woo targets single, urban professionals in the age group 25-35, seeking a life partner. The app has received Series A funding from Matrix Partners and Omidyar Network.
OPW INTERVIEW - Aug 10 - MeetMe had impressive Q2 results and announced their acquisition of Skout, one of the hallmark mobile brands in the dating industry. I spoke to Geoff Cook, CEO and Co-founder of MeetMe, about the acquisition and what it will mean for both brands. - Mark Brooks
Why did you choose to buy Skout?
I have always been impressed by Skout's number of chats per user per day. We've made a lot of progress on MeetMe, going from 8-10 chats per day to 25-30 chats per day, and Skout was having comparable numbers. We felt very familiar and comfortable with their business model. 90% of their revenue comes from ads, which is very similar to our business model. They have 700k-800k DAU, combined we're ~2M DAU. We looked at some of the top level metrics and saw this merge as a pretty clear pathway to $100M revenue. So it made sense both strategically, operationally, and financially.
Would you say that the acquisition of Skout has expanded your geographic footprint?
It certainly expanded our geographic footprint. ¾ of Skout's DAUs are international. MeetMe is much more focused on the US. Only half of our 1.3M DAUs are international. Skout is strong in Asia, so this will also increase our density among Asian users.
So, in these areas, will you promote Skout or MeetMe? How do you intersperse the numbers and drive membership between the two?
The first thing we will be working on is the lowest hanging fruit. We can improve their ad program based on our knowledge of mobile monetization. We are also thinking about cross promotion to drive MeetMe users to Skout and vice versa. We do intend to maintain Skout as a standalone brand. But over time, there will be no reason to have two separate cloud based chat systems.
How would you imagine someone describing the Skout end user experience vs the MeetMe experience?
They are very similar. In terms of how they are different, MeetMe has put a fair amount of emphasis on "Discuss" feature, where we transformed feeds into topic oriented communities. Skout has "Queue", a swipe-able feature where you can like or dislike different users to unlock the chat, which is a relatively important piece of their app. We will continue investing in both "Queue" and "Discuss" and make them better.
How about the teams? Will you have an office in San Francisco? Have any changes been made?
At the time of the announcement, there was a reduction at Skout. Skout's founders, Christian Wiklund and Niklas Lindstrom, have both agreed to help us for a year. We will maintain a team and an office in San Francisco and are looking to be posting open positions shortly to tap into the talent pool there. Right now we have our main office in New Hope, PA, and we have a satellite office in Philadelphia in order to tap into that job market.
CBS NEWS / AP - Aug 10 - Tinder spokeswoman Rosette Pambakian said usage has skyrocketed in Rio. Matches in the Olympic Village increased by 129% over the weekend, and the company expects that trend to continue, she said. ~10k athletes are living in the Olympic Village. ~450k condoms have been allocated for athletes, more than three times as many as in London.
FORTUNE.COM - Aug 9 - For many companies, fraternities and sororities were the keys to early success. When Tinder started, Justin Mateen hosted a huge party at his parents' California home in September 2012 and invited popular sorority sisters and fraternity brothers from several colleges in the area. The ticket to the party was a Tinder download. A 2014 Gallup poll found that being involved in a fraternity or sorority may boost one's interest in entrepreneurship. Of the 30k college graduates surveyed, those who had participated in Greek life were more likely to start their own businesses than those who hadn't. The entrepreneurs behind companies such as Uber, Snapchat, Dropbox, Lyft, Blue Apron, EventBrite, and Warby Parker all pledged fraternities in college. So did the founders of Fortune 500 companies like Nike, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot.
LINNS - Aug 9 - The Online Dating stamps were issued June 7 by San Marino in a pane of three stamps and six labels. San Marino is calling this issue "Amore Tecnologico," which translates to "technological love." American illustrator Andy Rementer created the cartoon designs for these 1.60 stamps.
by Denise McCarty
See full article at Linns
DAILYMAIL.CO.UK - Aug 6 - Love-struck Dutchman who flew 5k miles to meet Chinese woman he met online is hospitalised after waiting 10 days at the airport. She never showed up. She explained later that she had been having a plastic surgery and had turned her phone off while her face was wrapped in gauze. He refused to leave the airport. Coupled with lack of sleep and adequate nutrition he passed out as an effect of his severe diabetes. (The site is AsianBeauties.com, which forwards into AsianDate.com)
SEEKING ALPHA - Aug 4 - MeetMe recently traded at a four-year high of $7.49 a share, giving the company a market cap of ~$350M. In this recent article, Rober W Walter pointed out some recent events and disclosures (see below) that MeetMe's potential investors should consider before investing in the company.
BUSINESS PORTAL 24 - Aug 4 - Candidate, a German dating app launched in 2015, works as Q&A game. Users ask 5 questions on any topics and rank their answers or participate in the games of others and answer their questions. There were no profile photos visible to the users before they were matched, until now. Users can now play a "hot-or-not" game that combines the first visual impression of a photo with the existing question and answer game. The app's userbase is strong in metropolitan areas such as Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna. The app claims 15k active users and 100k downloads since its launch.
GRUENDER - Aug 8 - Ohlala, a German dating app that allows users being paid (100 - 200Eur) for going on a date, is in financial crisis. The app was founded last year by Pia Poppenreiter and Torsten Stüber. The app raised 1.7M Eur in December to expand into USA and other cities in Germany. Ohlala is not Pia's first attempt to build a start-up. She was also involved in Peppr, a dating app for hookers.
by Nora Jakob
See full article at Gruender
TECHRASA - Aug 4 - A few months ago, Iran's Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had stated that no matchmaking site has received a license to operate in the country. Now Iran's Cyber Police is claiming that a matchmaking site for marriage named Hamsan has received a permit under the license of the Ministry. Hamsan is a subsidiary of Tebyan.net which offers educational and cultural content and services to its users. Hamsan was launched in order to facilitate marriage for the youth.
BUSINESS INSIDER - Aug 3 - A Belgian member of the European Parliament, is accusing Tinder of violating EU law by saying it might re-use users' photos after their accounts are deactivated, MEP alleges. The MEP is calling for the European Commission to open an investigation into Tinder.
BENZIGA - Aug 3 - Known as the "Jewish Tinder," JSwipe was acquired by Spark Networks last year for $7M. The app, which was launched in 2014, has seen its global user count reach 700k, up from 450k in 2015. The problem for Spark was that JSwipe's free service cannibalized Spark's paid dating site jDate, which saw a decline of 22% YOY in Q1. So Spark Networks is rolling out its First Class feature, a monthly $18 premium subscription to monetize JSwipe.
FAST COMPANY - Aug 3 - To understand its users, Tinder employs sociologist Jessica Carbino.
Q: Why does Tinder need a sociologist on staff?
A: We're trying to understand what individuals desire and how they behave.
Q: What's your day-to-day job like?
A: My job is to understand user behavior and then create a better experience for them.
Q: Tell me more about the user research Tinder does.
A: For example: 6 months ago I analyzed 12K photos of users. 72% of our users present themselves wearing very muted colors rather than a bold color. We can then advice them to wear bold colors if they want to stand out.
Q: Does the product work differently depending on where users are located?
A: The product that we have released now is relatively applicable across markets. We do test a lot.
Q: Do you analyze the text of people's profiles?
A: We haven't done that yet.
Q: How does Tinder use design to encourage civility?
A: Given that we're linked with Facebook, we show mutual friends in common. Individuals who have friends in common will have a higher degree of social accountability and will not act in a way that's inappropriate.
THE STREET - Aug 1 - MeetMe stock jumped ~16% to $7.43 after the online dating company posted stronger-than-anticipated Q2 results. Revenue climbed 48% to $16.4M from last year and was above Wall Street's projections of $15.27M. Mobile revenue rose 82% to $15.1M YOY. "Our mobile traffic is at an all-time high," CEO Geoff Cook said in a statement. Mobile daily active users increased 15% to 1.22M and mobile monthly active users jumped 32% to 4.84M YOY. For Q3, MeetMe forecasts revenue between $17M and $17.5M. The company expects its recent Skout acquisition to close in October.
MARKETWIRED - Aug 1 - The Spanish-language app is the latest offering launched by ChristianMingle's parent company Spark Networks. "The launch of this new app represents our commitment to serve the growing Hispanic online dating community, said Michael Egan, CEO of Spark Networks.
MARKETWATCH - Aug 1 - eHarmony's new CEO Grant Langston and dating industry analyst Mark Brooks join Catey Hill and Quentin Fottrell to talk about the time and money spent on online dating, the science behind it, and why eHarmony will never be Tinder.
Quentin: Last week Neil Clark Warren, the founder and CEO of eHarmony, retired. Grant Langston has taken over as CEO. Grant, I did an interview with you on MarketWatch - "Why eHarmony will never be like Tinder or Grindr". I know you have had a casual dating site before, called Jazzed, that did not really do great and your customer base got confused. Can you tell us about what market you are after in the online dating world?
Grant: We have been in this business for a long time and we have made a commitment to help create compatible long term relationships. It's a little bit of a disconnect to turn around and tell your constituency that we are now also facilitating very casual hookups. That is something that people pass judgments about. We learned the hard way. People that used our core business started to get confused about who we were and what our mission was.
Quentin: So when you started, were you a religious site? What was the ethos?
Grant: Dr. Warren was a psychologist for about 40 years. Towards the end of his career he started to write books about mate selection. Those books were published primarily by religious publication houses. So his audience was largely in the Christian world. When eHarmony started that was the natural constituency for the business because he had made a lot of appearances on Christian radios and had a name in that universe.
Quentin: Mark, how much do you put in all of the science and the secret sauce behind these sites?
Mark: I often get asked why use a dating site. People use dating sites because they help you get the tough questions out of the way right up front. So I really see the sites that are more focused on compatibility as being an extension of this. You are meeting people who are not only willing and able and committed enough to spend some money on the process, which says something, but you are meeting people who are willing to go through a number of questions and be a little bit more involved in the process.
Quentin: Do you think certain types of people are attracted to certain sites?
Mark: Absolutely. For example VeggieDate.com. For some people, being a vegetarian is a big part of their life. That's what they want to lead with. So I think you choose a site based on what your thing is. The thing people go to eHarmony for is more meaningful, more serious relationships.
Quentin: With sites like eHarmony, people do pay. They are showing commitment. With Tinder and also OKCupid you are matched with people and you message them but nobody ever has time to actually meet in real life.
Catey: I always thought of Tinder as a hookup site but more younger people are now finding relationships on that site.
Quentin: What do you think, Mark?
Mark: I think the bigger they get the more general their audience will be and the more range of use the service will have. The entire experience is simplified which is really the secret sauce. They went entirely to be the emotional hub of the brain. They are pure system one (Book: Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman), pure emotion. It's entertainment, a game, very sharable which also led a great deal to their success. It is moving in the opposite direction than I thought the industry would move in.
Quentin: Grant, you mentioned you were making some changes.
Grant: The bar changes all the time. One of the things that we failed to do is to keep our apps as easy as possible to use. We are always going to be more involved because we need to know more about you to do the kind of matching that we want to do. But the process that we have could use a lot of improvement. It just needs to be a lot easier to interact with it. That is my first priority in this new role.
Quentin: Mark do you think the premium sites are worth the money? $59.95... that is 6x more than your Netflix subscription.
Mark: I think it demonstrates commitment to the process. Somebody once asked me many years ago: "How much would I spend to meet a woman that I would spend the rest of my life with?" And I remember answering: "To me that's $100k? That's the most important decision I will ever make." And he said: "My club is $1k/year, and I'll give you a shot." I said: "Cool, that sounds like a decent deal". Matchmakers are charging $5k - $50k for their services, and they've done OK despite the rise of Internet dating. eHarmony is essentially bottling matchmakers' key services. But it's far more scientific. eHarmony is running rings around most matchmakers.
Quentin: eHarmony launched a matchmaking service for $5k some time ago. I think that actually implies you want to meet somebody who has the money to spend on that kind of site.
Mark: I think people will pay to not be surprised.
Catey: I think Quentin would pay for that :).
Quentin: I have had more surprises than anybody. If I could pay for a premium service where nobody fibs, I would do.
NYPOST - Aug 2 - 3nder, the kinky app catering to threesomes, will change its name amid a trademark dispute. Dogged by a lawsuit from a Tinder filed this spring, British-based 3nder will change its name to "Feeld." Feeld has seen downloads grow 65% year-to-date compared with last year, to reach a total of 1.57M.
MARKETWIRED - July 29 - The Southern Diocese of the Fellowship of International Churches has joined the ChristianMingle For Churches program. This fellowship includes 15 churches located in Mississippi and Georgia, all of which now offer ChristianMingle memberships for their congregants. CMforChurches.com offers pastors web tools to help connect singles within their church communities such as a custom site for church attendees, church badging so members can easily meet, 50% off lifetime membership for church attendees.