OPW INTERVIEW -- July 31 -- People Media, formerly Zencon Media, is a major niche network. IAC/Match now has them under their wing. An interesting move indeed. Here’s our interview with the CEO of People Media, Joshua Meyers. - Mark Brooks
What is the founding story of PeopleMedia?
PeopleMedia was founded in 2002. BlackPeopleMeet.com was the very first site they launched. A lot of people were signing up without doing any marketing at all so PeopleMedia started creating additional sites.
In 2007, the company was acquired by American Capital which is a very large private equity firm and that was when I was brought in as a CEO to run the company. We opened a Los Angeles office and hired a number of professionals from different corners of the Internet space. Actually, we hired very few people from the dating space; we’ve hired people mostly from online marketing and we built the number one provider of targeted online dating communities.
How many dating sites are in the fold?
We have 27 sites in total. SeniorPeopleMeet.com, BlackPeopleMeet.com, SingleParentMeet.com, and BBPeopleMeet.com are some of the largest and fastest growing sites in our portfolio.
How many people are working for the company?
We have between 40 and 50 employees and roughly half of those are in customer service and editorial departments where they do profile review and respond to customers and help them with their needs or questions.
Now, one could argue that the perfect model for the perfect Internet dating company would be one Internet dating company that has all the singles on the planet on it. Why then is PeopleMedia such a good model? Why does it work?
I think both are good models and certainly a large, very significant scale dating site would be a very valuable service. As you know, we were recently acquired by Match.com and they run arguably the largest service of such kind.
Our sites are very valuable because they offer an alternative. Users are looking for alternatives, they may join more than one dating site. So they can join the largest and also the most focused. We focus on critical relationship factors which typically are ethnicity, religion, lifestyle or life stage and these are factors that really matter when it comes to finding your mate. People who want to belong to a community of like members. So it’s a very different experience. It’s a little more of a private club in terms of the exclusivity and you’re going to be contacted by people who are like minded.
You were acquired by IAC and Match. Could you remind us what the terms of the deal were?
We were acquired by IAC and Match.com for $80 million in cash and the deal was announced on July 7th.
Are there any additional public revenue numbers that are available?
PeopleMedia has $11.6 million of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in 2008 and we continue to experience pretty significant growth. We show a 55% year over year increase in our unique visitors according to Comscore April 2009 data. According to our own internal numbers, we have 4 million unique visitors per month and 550 million page views per month.
This is the biggest acquisition of its kind with a large generic site acquiring a niche network but it’s not the first one. The first large scale acquisition was Spark Networks buying the Mingle Match network. How would you say this deal is different? Why did Match buy PeopleMedia?
PeopleMedia is at a very significant scale, I think a far larger scale than other companies in the space. We have 255,000 paying subscribers. We combined the leading company in the targeted dating space, which is PeopleMedia, with the leading company in the general dating space, which is Match.com.
You have 27 communities within PeopleMedia. But as you’re looking at new communities, prospective new areas; what are the top 3 factors you would consider the most important for success?
First I want to say that we’re not necessarily seeing our most significant opportunity as adding new categories, although there are a few things in the works. I think our primary focus is on the communities we’re already serving. I would really boil it down to 2 factors.
One is what I call the gravity of that particular target. You can create a lot of different dating sites, you can come up with a lot of different ideas but if they don’t have that gravitational pull for people they’re not going to be successful. Then the second is really a scale or the size of that community.
What does the future hold for PeopleMedia? Where would you like the company to be in 2 years time?
We will continue to see success stories rolling in from our sites and from our members who are finding the loves of their lives. We are excited to continue to grow our marketing presence both online as well as offline and also in combination with Match.com.
For example, there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of seniors on Match.com and I would estimate that only a small percentage of those seniors know about SeniorPeopleMeet.com. So you can see what a significant opportunity there is for us to introduce SeniorPeopleMeet.com and our other communities to singles who are on Match.com.