WINNIPEG FREE PRESS - Feb 26 - Weopia.com is a new 3-D virtual world dating service. Wilkie and his co-creators claim it will aid the extinction of the scary beast known as the awkward first date. Singles don't click on to Weopia to find a date. Potential couples who have already connected elsewhere in cyberspace send their avatars there on a virtual date to find out how well they'd click in real life. Avatars communicate through voice and text chat. In the near future Weopia visitors will be able to create their own custom avatars, right down to skin colour, hairstyle and physique. Weopia is currently offering a free limited trial period.
The full article was originally published at Winnipeg Free Press, but is no longer available.
PARADIGM SHIFT - Feb 26 - Plentyoffish.com just passed 105M monthly logins this month, and has up to 380,000 emails an hour sent between users. The latest comscore numbers show Plentyoffish is bigger than all of Match.com and Meetic properties combined worldwide.
The full article was originally published at PlentyofFish blog, but is no longer available.
PRESS RELEASE - Feb 25 - ChristianCafe.com, a Christian owned online dating service, marks eleven years of matching Christian singles this week. The service launched officially on February 26, 1999. Mr. Moorcroft launched ChristianCafe.com with his brother Philip after finding a void in the online dating space for dedicated Christians, back when he was single and searching. FULL ARTICLE @ CHRISTIAN NEWSWIRE
OPW - Feb 26 - Maryland men who date or otherwise communicate with foreign women might need
to visit their local police station if House
Bill 596 is passed by the General Assembly. The Bill was recently
reintroduced. If passed, it would require online dating sites to
obtain a copy of police records for men who are citizens of Maryland
and disclose the records to female clients. The Bill will also require the
men to submit their fingerprints if they use the services rendered by
online dating websites internationally. The Bill itself was
introduced by Delegate Benson, who is closely aligned with various
women's rights groups. The Bill, originally proposed in 2008, did not
become law because it expired before the 2008 legislative session
halted. However, Maryland delegates are trying again.
In January of this year, one of the first bills introduced was The Fingerprint Bill, otherwise known as House Bill 65. Violation or failure to comply with these bills could lead to a misdemeanor. Conviction could result in a fine not to exceed $12,000, imprisonment not to exceed 1 year, or both. Exchanging names, phone numbers, addresses, photos, statistics, or otherwise facilitating communication between a client and a recruit; or providing a social environment for introducing clients to recruits in a country other than the U.S.A., is considered to be a violation. This could be very serious for the social networking/online dating industry. Michael Parrotte, is one of few Maryland locals attempting to fight the bill. Stacey Goodman, a Senior Policy Analyst working closely with Senator Alex Mooney on the matter, told Parrotte that regardless of how the current Bill is interpreted the intent of the Bill’s sponsors is to “restrict or even prevent communication between American men and foreign women for the purposes of dating and/or marriage”. Parrotte is interested in speaking with anyone from the dating industry who is interested in the legislation and can be reached at 301.695.8004.
OPW INTERVIEW - Feb 25 - Zoosk is growing fast and taking no prisoners. We interviewed Zoosk back in June 2009. See the interview here. Here's our latest interview with co-founder Alex Mehr. - Mark Brooks
How rosy was your Valentine’s Day?
My Valentine’s Day was great personally and more importantly, on the site, we had quite a few promotions that went very well. A lot of people joined our site 4 or 5 days before Valentine’s to find that last minute Valentine.
How big is Zoosk now?
It has just crossed 50 million people.
How are you driving such an incredible growth?
It’s a combination of few different things. We do a lot of online marketing just like any other dating site and we also promote heavily through social networks.
You just did a deal with IMVU. Can you tell us more about that deal? Why go virtual?
The deal was not particularly about IMVU being a virtual world website. It was more a test for us to see how syndicating our site to other websites would work in terms of monetization and added value to the end user. If it is successful we roll it out to many other sites. And we’ve been doing it for a couple of sites so far and it’s looking great.
What are your thoughts on virtual dating in an internet dating environment?
It might appeal to a really young audience. But I think for people who want to go on dates, avatar based dating isn’t a viable method. So we are staying away from it at this point.
Zoosk was started in December 2007 and we interviewed you in June 2009. Since then you’ve raised another $30 million round of funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Congratulations. What are you doing with the money?
A lot of it is going to go into promoting our product, not just on social networks but also through offline channels. We also have some product development in plan that requires more capital. I don’t want to talk about the specific details but you can expect a lot from us in the coming year.
What site developments are you most proud of since we last talked in June 2009?
There has been quite a lot happening on Zoosk.com in terms of making online dating more social. We have introduced the information sharing. Zoosk has a home page just like Facebook that has feeds.
Profiles on most dating have a structured look. You go to a person’s profile and see the stats and everything about them. We provide that as well but that doesn’t provide context for initiating a contact. Let’s say you see Angelina from San Francisco, she’s 30 and her birthday is coming up in 3 days. That would be perfect for you to initiate a conversation in that context. That has been, by far, the most successful feature we’ve rolled out.
How important is the iPhone platform for you?
iPhone is the way to go mobile. It has been an interesting project for us and we’ve learned a lot. We are rolling out newer versions of our iPhone app. Our plan is to roll out at least one new version every month for the next few months. Pretty soon we are also going to develop for iPad and Android.
Could you see a day when there are more people accessing Zoosk through iPhone and iPad?
You will see a lot of people having smart phones at a very young age and accessing websites through those devices. But I don’t think this is going to happen for another 3 to 5 years. It is a long term planning but we are developing and getting ready now.
What is coming next for Zoosk? How do you intend to give Match.com a run for their money?
We don’t compare ourselves to Match.com. We consider ourselves a social network for dating. We share a lot of characteristics with social networks but at the same time the main purpose of our site is dating.
We’re doing a lot of things and one of them is making our home page smarter with news feed items and information sharing, build more things around social graph.
WEB NEWSWIRE - Feb 25 - An assisted matchmaking service pioneered by BharatMatrimony.com was launched today under the brand name PrivilegeMatrimony.com. This service was earlier offered as an add-on package. The service is targeted at busy professionals who do not have the time to do their own partner search.People who opt for this service will be assigned an exclusive Relationship Manager who is highly trained in all aspects of matchmaking.
The full article was originally published at Web Newswire, but is no longer available.
VIXIMO - Feb 23 - Valentine’s Day is the second biggest shopping holiday of the year, coming in second only to Christmas. The National Retail Federation estimated that, despite the recession, $14 billion would be spent on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2010.
Viximo, a virtual gift platform provider, surveyed 1,000 social networking and online dating users about their intent to purchase virtual gifts on February 14. 72% of respondents planned to send virtual goods as a gift on Valentine’s Day. 31% of people who planned to send a virtual gift on Valentine’s Day would be purchasing their first virtual good. Other findings were: Single people will send more virtual gifts than people in a relationship or marriage, and single men are likely to send 4% more virtual valentines than single women. 40% of respondents want to receive Kisses/Smiles on Valentine’s Day.
- Guest post by Brian Balfour, Founder & VP Product Marketing at Viximo
KOREA TIMES - Feb 25 - Korean matchmaking firm Sunwoo conducted a research study to examine married couples' age difference and their income. Based on the data, the larger the age gap between the spouses, the larger the husband's income compared to the wife's. For couples that had an age gap of five years or less, the two spouses had an average of $10,000 difference in their income. Couples with an age gap between six and seven years have an income difference of $30,000 to $40,000. Young wives tend to be more dependent on their husbands in various ways and require more attention and care. Also, while the husband is aging, the wife likely is only now maturing and this may cause some emotional as well as sexual disparities. The husband and wife are at different life stages and consequently are likely to have different priorities. These marriages require more compromise and adjustment. FULL ARTICLE @ KOREA TIMESSee all posts on Sunwoo
PR NEWSWIRE – Feb 25 – Match.com has signed an agreement to acquire Singlesnet. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Greg Blatt, CEO of Match.com said, “While Singlesnet’s traffic is currently in decline, we believe we can reverse that trend, increase the site’s profitability and improve the overall user experience. This is more of a value acquisition than a strategic one, and Singlesnet will predominantly be run as a standalone business. Nonetheless, the addition of the site’s considerable traffic to our existing aggregation of traffic in this single category should open new monetization opportunities for Match.com’s collective portfolio of domestic online dating brands.”
Adrian Ong, who joined Match from Soulmates Technology, a company acquired by Match.com in 2002, will assume responsibility for Singlesnet. Mr Ong has held various leadership roles within Match.com's International business, primarily in the areas of product and technology, and most recently has led Match.com’s effort to transition its European business to Meetic in connection with its sale last year. Quinn Lipin , Singlesnet's founder, will continue to work for the company in an executive capacity. FULL PRESS RELEASE @ PR NEWSWIRE
Mark Brooks: Traffic is down from over 7 million uniques a month in January 2009 to 4.5 million a month in January 2010 according to Compete. Singlesnet has been rogue-ish in its marketing tactics in the past so its good its coming under Match.com's wing. They can polish the site up and make it less of an embarrassment to the experience that should be 'internet dating,' and then put it to bed.
PR WEB - Feb 24 - HerWay.com, a dating site that enables women to lead the matchmaking process, partners with Honesty Online. Honesty Online allows members of HerWay to share authenticated identity information with other members, making it safer to meet each other in person. HerWay’s innovative approach to dating, ensures women control the action by restricting men from searching, while allowing women to browse for men anonymously. When she's ready to connect, her profile is revealed only to the man of her choosing by initiating contact with him. This new concept provides women unprecedented privacy, discretion, and safety as they search for Mr. Right. FULL ARTICLE @ PR WEB
HORIZONT.NET - Feb 24 - According to Nielsen 7,5 Million German Internet users visited at least one dating site in January 2010. Parship, Elitepartner, Friendscout24 overall counted for 16,4% of active Internet users in Germany. In the last year, dating sites spent 107M Eur for advertising. FriendScount24 which spent 39.8M Eur had 1.1M unique visitors in January 2010 followed by ElitePartner with 893 unique visitors and FlirtCafe with 809 unique visitors. FULL ARTICLE @ HORIZONT.NET
Norton will also be speaking at the Social Networking Conference also. His topic will discuss the well being of social capitalists. You can check out photos and videos from prior conferences by clicking the link here and scrolling down to Photos from Previous events. See you there!
THEDEAL.COM - Feb 12 - Lavalife is being shopped by its owner, online marketer Vertrue. Vertrue paid C$152.5M ($113.9M) to acquire Lavalife in 2004. Vertrue was itself bought out by management, private equity firms One Equity Partners and Brencourt Investors and venture capital firm Rho Ventures for $855M in 2007. Lavalife's Web properties have been on the block for about four months. Lavalife Voice, a phone-based dating service, is not being shopped. Some say the auction has been going on for longer than that. "They've wanted to sell for a while," Noel Biederman, CEO of Avid Life Media, said of Lavalife. "Lavalife is not of great strategic value, and its business is in decline," said Mark Brooks, an industry consultant with Courtland Brooks. The company has not disclosed revenues since it was taken private in 2007. That year it brought in ~$90M. Although online dating giants Avid Life and FriendFinder Networks canceled initial public offerings this month, the space is still ripe for M&A deals, according to Brooks.