LA TIMES - Feb 14 - "Matchmaking should have been dead by now," said Mark Brooks of Online Personals Watch, a site that's been tracking Internet dating since 2004. Instead, the opposite has happened, he said. Matchmakers not only have survived but are thriving, having been aided and legitimized by the entity that was supposed to have killed them off — the Internet. Like social networking, which had many dating industry experts inaccurately predicting the demise of paid Internet dating sites, Internet dating hasn't killed matchmaking, but fed it. In fact, the three go hand in hand, leading relationship-minded singles to ever higher levels of paid service. Though social networking sites such as Facebook may bring people together and do it for free, there's no guarantee that those brought-together people are available and looking for a relationship. Matchmakers charge $1,000 to $100,000, depending on the exclusivity of the service, the number of matches and how willing they are to go the extra mile.
"You're the therapist, the mother, the best friend, the sister, the nonsexual girlfriend. You have to be everything," said Patti Stanger, star of the TV series "The Millionaire Matchmaker" and proprietor of the L.A.-based Millionaire's Club matchmaking service. Stanger charges men $25k+ a year and female "millionairesses" $55k for 28 months of unlimited introductions. (She finds her female clients take longer to match.)' "
Increasingly, Internet dating is bringing in a matchmaking component. Match's Daily 5 delivers "five matches based on our prediction of which two people would most want to engage in a conversation together," said Match CEO Greg Blatt. Another matchmaking feature called Singled Out, is for "when we have a match with a stronger likelihood of connecting and want to highlight that to our users," Blatt said. "A lot of people put their relationships on the wrong course because they select the wrong people," said Gian Gonzaga, senior director of R&Dfor eHarmony. "A lot of the things that are powerful forces for initial attraction are different from what makes a relationship successful."
"Women are very attracted to the [matchmaking] concept because it's private. They can't be browsed," said Julie Ferman, founder of Cupid's Coach in Westlake Village, a matchmaking service that charges $2,500 to $25,000 annually for an average of 2.2 introductions per month and takes both women and men as paying clients. Matchmaking is strongest among thirty-, forty- and fiftysomethings, according to Ferman. Her average client splits the difference at a median age of 46 and makes at least $50,000. There's thousands of singles using hundreds of matchmakers — eLove, It's Just Lunch, the Millionaire's Club.
It's worth dropping $5k to $10k on a matchmaker if you've got the cash and are looking for a serious relationship, but online sites that charge or have extensive questionnaires can also be a good option, Brooks said. Nonetheless, matchmakers may not have many prospective dates for men in their 20s or women in their 60s, he added.
"The Internet dating services are flawed because they lack service — they have great price, great choice, but not a lot of service," Brooks said. "The matchmaker services are severely flawed because they lack choice."
FULL ARTICLE @ LA TIMES