OPW INTERVIEW -- Jan 31 -- Andrew Weinreich is the CEO of an interesting location based mobile dating service. He was also the founder of SixDegrees.com. - Mark Brooks
You’re the founder of SixDegrees.com. Why did MySpace steal your thunder?
We started SixDegrees in 1995. We sold it in December 2000, well before Myspace started. I think we were the first to define that space on the Internet. Social networking was invented and reinvented and reinvented again. We were the leading social network and then it was Friendster, Myspace and now Facebook.
Did you have it in mind when you started SixDegrees.com that it would help people with their dating prospects?
No. There were only a handful of websites, and I was looking into opportunities on the Web. What was compelling to me was publishing a database that wouldn’t have existed but for the Web. There has always been this notion of meeting people you don’t know through the people you do know, and that’s really what SixDegrees or any social network is.
What inspired you to start Meetmoi?
What excites me are spaces where something’s about to become reinvented. Online dating is one of those areas that generate real revenue and where people have shown a real inclination to change their behavior. Instead of limiting yourself to meeting people in an offline context, it may be that you can meet more people, present yourself in a better light, if you do it online and if you have the time and patience to be deliberate in what you say and how you say it.
Everything is going to go mobile. Dating lends itself to being reinvented from the online medium to a mobile medium. That is exciting, an industry that can be reinvented and a new player has a chance to dominate.
How does the Meetmoi service work from a user perspective?
You can register from your PC or phone. Some users can self-identify their location or we have a tiny snippet of code that you download and it’s all permission-based, but you have the ability to share where you are on an ongoing basis so we can look for people that meet your requirements that are around you. We will show you people not just based on the online criteria of, for example, age, but distance from you. Making dating more efficient because we incorporate location is really what mobile dating is all about.
Are people concerned about stalkers? What are the concerns with mobile?
I have a very simple principle. Users control every single aspect of their information. They control what they share, when they share it, to whom it’s shared and for how long it’s shared. If you stick to that rule, users will trust you and you can deal with a lot of these very legitimate privacy and safety concerns.
How is the service growing and what kinds of people are using the service so far?
We’ve been very pleased. I would say 20s and early 30s, these are people that are very comfortable on their phones, they have a bit of technological sophistication and their time is precious to them. They’re looking for someone who can have a cup of coffee with them now. They’re not interested in setting things up 2 or 3 weeks down the road but being able to plan last-minute and that’s what Meetmoi offers.
How does the service make money?
Meetmoi has free and paid memberships. With free memberships, you can browse profiles, people can contact you. The paid membership allows you to initiate contact with another member and that costs $9.99 a month. We have relationships with the carriers that allow us to charge you directly on your phone bill.
Do you have plans to extend internationally with the service?
The service works internationally now but not with SMS messaging; it works with email. We absolutely intend to extend SMS alerts and SMS interactions internationally in the near future.
Is there a way that other internet dating sites can work with you?
Yes, we will in 2009 announce partnerships but we’re absolutely open to helping dating sites extend their brand and extend their offering into the mobile arena.
What would you say your goals are through the end of 2009?
To expand membership, expand the functionality that we offer and to structure partnerships with other communities looking to work in the mobile arena and generate revenue in the mobile arena. Those partnerships can take many forms but I would expect us to announce a number of them both domestically and internationally over the course of 2009.