OPW INTERVIEW -- Jan 8, 2007 -- I spoke with Marc Simoncini this afternoon about his pending acquisition of Dating Direct. - Mark Brooks
When will your acquisition of Dating Direct be complete?
We're planning to close the acquisition definitely before the end of January. It's a question of days.
Can you tell me more about your plans once you acquire Dating Direct?
So the plan is to first integrate the software and the application from Dating Direct to Meetic's control and to merge the database. So we will add 4.5 million members from the UK, from Dating Direct, into my database. Then we will provide U.K. users dates with, of course, U.K. citizens but also with millions of European singles. We will launch our new version of Meetic, which is planned to be launched in February in France first and then we will move the platform from Dating Direct to Meetic to join the new version of Meetic. So that's what we're planning for the next few months.
Will you be phasing out the Meetic name in the UK?
Yes. We will keep the Dating Direct brand. We will continue to promote the Dating Direct brand and stop promoting Meetic. So no more Meetic in the UK.
How do you think Match might react to the news of this acquisition?
That's up to Match. Two years ago, I said I wanted to cross the entirety of Europe. The only country where Match was bigger than Meetic was in the UK, so I assume it's not a surprise for them to see Meetic entering the UK market. So maybe they made a mistake to leave this acquisition available for Meetic, I don't know. I'm sure it's not a surprise for them. So now Meetic has, say, two or three times more traffic than Match all over Europe, so the competition will be less intensive in Europe and that's my goal.
The acquisition is to include Chemistry.co.uk which is an events service in the U.K. What's your plans for this events service?
Maybe we will call the technology (personality profiling) dating website in the UK 'Chemistry,' we don't know. We have the domain name, the brand and the company to organize events, so it's a pity for Match that we have the domain name they need in UK to launch Chemistry, but I'm not sure they plan to launch Chemistry outside of the U.S. I don't think it's a problem for Match.