Spark Networks Loses Online Daters' Love - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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Bill Dobbie

'They should consider reducing their operating costs, to maximise the amount of cash they get from their declining American Singles database, and/or find a way of improving revenues from this base eg. a super affiliate deal with a growing general Dating brand.

Their Operating costs and G&A expenses are way out of line with a business of this size supporting a declining revenue stream.

More generally, and perhaps more difficult for them, is to make significant changes in their management team and style which was built on introducing JDate in the heyday of the traditional dating model - a million miles from the current environment.'


We wonder how much of their overall decline can be attributed to If you took it out of the mix, we'd bet they'd look a lot healthier.

As far as we can tell, Spark as a company has never made money besides JDate. Everything else it has ever gotten into has lost money. They divide their online sites into only 3 categories, JDate, AmericanSingles & Other. Those "Other" sites comprise 20+ sites, including BlackSingles and ChristianMingle, presumably the strongest ones. Why not break out the 20+ sites? We suspect doing so would expose even further how much they lose on most, if not all, of them. If you look at the bid prices for their top sites, they are simply un-sustainable. They can never recoup that money in the form of higher conversions.

We don't think Spark's decline has anything to do with a perceived move from paid to "free" sites. Rather, it is due to managerial incompetence and/or greed at the top end gone bad.

Spark doesn't seem to have ever had a profit mentality. It has always been about the stock and the hope that a major IPO would enable the major shareholders to cash out. It sounds like the 5% shareholder mentioned is the former co-founder, Alon Carmel, who had a bad parting and went on to help finance a competitor, JLove.

If it was about profit, then the smart thing to do would be to sell off everything except JDate.

Ross Williams

This reeks of poor management and lack of investment in their brands - they're simply losing market share here as other more nimble, focussed and agile companies move in on this territory.

They should focus on JDate, sell off the other sites (or set up a partnership with other people to take on the marketing and operational costs of their other sites whilst they enjoy a royalty fee) and build profit based on JDate.

Everyone excepts that online dating is moving towards the niche - it's one of the reasons to attribute to our huge growth - and they simply can't run a portfolio of 20+ sites that the management don't understand.

If they get focussed they'll get profitable - and then they'll build up value.

Sam Moorcroft,

If I have had a dollar for every time someone said that "free" was taking over paid, I'd have a nice residual income instead of actually having to work for a living:)

Speaking of a dollar, who wants to date someone who won't pony that up daily on a singles site? That old adage is true, "you get what you pay for". Imagine Mr. cheapee on a first date. Bring your purse, honey, 'cause you're paying.

Sam Moorcroft,

Sorry, "If I had a dollar..." There's nothing like typing quickly, editing, then not re-reading before hitting the Post button instead of the Preview one...Where's the "Are you sure" pop-up?:)

David Evans

We've been having this same conversation about Spark for years now. Bill, I thought they had "tightened the belt" already, you're saying they have a ways more to go?

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