Q: Back in 1994 when you started up WebPersonals.com, did you ever think that the industry would be this huge?
A: While I understood that online dating would change the way people meet, I didn’t fully grasp the extent that it would change the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Q: Is there any new technology that you see getting incorporated into online dating that will revolutionize it? Mobile, GPS, Apps, Video, VOIP, Matching
A: There are four elements to online dating: access, member profiles, searching/matching, and member interaction. The access via mobile does open members to more spontaneous meetings. As far as member profiles, most people are comfortable only with uploading photos and creating text profiles. Members say that online dating sites have tons of profiles but it gets harder and harder to find a good match (while actually, the matches are better than before just that they have become more picky).
Q: You were one of the pioneers in developing niche community sites with AsiaFriendFinder and BigChurch. What made you think that these niche groups would be so successful?
A: In the early days of online dating, we had to come up with ways to make people feel comfortable that they would find good matches and one way was to show them that all the members of a site matched their primary filter.
Q: Do you think that there is room for an emerging dating company to compete with the likes of FriendFinder Network, Match.com or eHarmony?
A: There is also always the potential for a first-mover company to take advantage of new traffic markets.
Q: What do you think of eHarmony’s approach to personality test matchmaking vs. searching profiles?
A: I believe that self-assessment tests, specific suggestions on how to better search, and many profile with personality data give online daters a better chance at success.
Q: Do you think that Social Networks are a big threat to the dating industry at large?
A: In 2001, I modified FriendFinder.com to support both friend social networking and online dating. It turned out not to be successful because members found that interacting with their current friends was a separate process than discovering new friends and dates.
Q: Do you think love can blossom in 140 characters or less?
A: The most common subject line sent to members of online dating sites is “hi”. The question is more dependent on what the person had to do before they were able to send you that 140 characters… how were they screened? how do you know that they have the potential to be worth loving?
Q: What is one thing that you would tell someone pursuing a new start-up?
A: Pick your battles… find the minimum product/service offering features that you need to have in order to have a complete solution and get it done as soon as possible.