THE NEXT WEB - Aug 31 - IAC today announced its acquisition of DateHookup.com, a free dating site that claims 1M unique visitors per month. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. DateHookup was founded by CEO Dustin Weirich in 2002 and has grown to become the 6th most-trafficked free online dating website in the US.
BLOOMBERG - Aug 30 - FriendFinder Networks, that has $511M of debt, was given three months by its bondholders to turn around a business that has never reported a profit. Bondholders have given the company until Nov. 14 to raise cash. Andrew Conru is the company’s biggest creditor, with ~$243M of bonds. Asked whether he would consider converting some of his second-lien notes to equity to lessen the company’s debt burden, Conru said he is “currently investigating all options.” AdultFriendFinder.com accounts for ~65% of the company’s revenue. The firm lost $31.1M last year and reported interest expense of $86M.
UPDATE: FriendFinder has released their response to Bloomberg article. "FriendFinder has received no such demand or notice from its bondholders. FriendFinder was either in compliance or had waivers for all of its debt covenants as of June 30, 2012."
by Zeke Faux The full article was originally published at Bloomberg, but is no longer available.
BUSINESS INSIDER - Aug 31 - Brandon Wade runs an online dating empire including whatsyourprice.com, in which singles "bid" on first dates, and SeekingArrangement.com aimed at "sugar daddies." He recently sued PayPal, claiming it got rid of him because it deemed these businesses too "sexual" and even implied his websites promoted prostitution. Paypal is handling payments for Ashley Madison, a much more lucrative customer. So far, Wade has won a small victory in his case against PayPal. The judge in charge of the case rejected a motion to dismiss the suit before a trial.
WEBWIRE - Aug 30 - I will provide a presentation entitled the “State of the European Dating Business” at the iDate European Dating Conference. The event takes place on September 10-11, 2012 at the NH Koln Mediapark Hotel in Cologne, Germany. You can register here.
PR WEB - Aug 28 - FriendFinder announced on August 15 that they will shed 5,000 co-branded dating sites. As a result of this decision, Dating Factory, Europe’s leading white label dating provider, has decided to offer ex-FriendFinder co-brands range of benefits for joining their platform including 100% of the revenues from initial conversions and 50% of revenue from advertising.
PR WEB - Aug 29 - Great Expectations was the first to introduce video-dating to the matchmaking process, offer events, activities and travel to their clients, integrate offline dating online, conduct background checks on clients, and they are now offering an all-inclusive concierge service. The concierge will allow clients to request everything for their dating needs, including dinner reservations, event tickets, limos and flowers.
MASHABLE - Aug 28 - Snap Interactive is re-launching its dating site AreYouInterested.com as a social discovery site. AreYouInterested (both the site and the app) lets you sync your Facebook information to your profile and meet other people with similar interests. "Now you can meet people who share your interests, whether you’re looking for friendship or dating", commented Clifford Lerner, CEO of Snap Interactive. The site will operate on a freemium model. You can sync your Facebook account to the site and see what users you have things in common with for free. You can send one free message, but for any more you’ll need to subscribe. MeetMe and Tagged are two other similar sites that use social discovery to virtually introduce people.
CISIONWIRE - Aug 28 - Austria singles spend ~ €16.9M on online dating sites, according to the latest analysis of the industry observer Single-Boersen Vergleich. The top 4 dating sites (eDarling, Elite Partner, Friendscout24 and Parship) are collectively taking 60% of the online dating market share in Austria.
HUFFINGTON POST - Aug 28 - A new survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of post-50 dating site OurTime.com, found out that 37% of women are totally fine with "e-snooping" on their dates, only 29% of men said the same. 36% of 18 to 34-year-olds and 40% of 35 to 44-year-olds said they'd feel comfortable doing so, compared to only 26% of people over the age of 55.
VENTURE BEAT - Aug 28 - Momo Tech has raised $40M for its app that helps nearby strangers connect with each other. The product is similar to Grindr, Skout, Blendr and Badoo. Momo claims 10M users (acquired in just 1 year), 2.2 million of whom use the app daily, and the addition of 1M users a month. Momo means “Hi, stranger” in Mandarin.
OPW INTERVIEW - Aug 28 - MeetMoi is a hallmark mobile dating brand. A great app, built by a notable founding team. Here’s our interview with the CEO, Alex Harrington. - Mark Brooks
How did you come to start MeetMoi? I'm not the founder. I was brought in three years ago. The company was founded by Andrew Weinreich and Jeremy Levy in 2007. Andrew notably wrote the original patents for social networking, which is presently held by Mark Pincus and Reid Hoffman of Zynga and LinkedIn, respectively. He saw social networking coming a long time ago and also saw the disruptive nature of mobile. He sort of foresaw back in 2007 that mobile was going to create opportunities for disruption in all types of industries. He saw dating as a field that could benefit consumer and potentially disrupt the status quo in the business landscape.
Wasn't he also the fellow behind Six Degrees? That's correct. He founded the first social network of scale called Six Degrees.
How did it evolve up until the point you took over? The mobile landscape has been reinvented probably four or five times since the company was conceived. When Andrew first started off, he envisioned it as a sort of a texting based interface. They quickly realized the opportunity was really on the mobile web. We launched our mobile web service in 2008. That's still going strong. More recently we have built out our service on app.
How would you categorize MeetMoi? It is not internet dating; what is it? We use the online dating category as our touchstone. We've referred to ourselves as a mobile matchmaker, but it's an ongoing process to define what exactly our category is. Social discovery is also a good label as an industry term, but not particularly helpful when you're talking to consumers.
How is MeetMoi doing now? We're doing great. We're in expansion mode. We're well capitalized. This summer is going to be a big rebirth of the company in terms of creating a higher profile and getting a significantly larger audience.
What platforms are you on now? You've got Android and iPhone? That's correct.
Is there a dedicated iPad app? There isn't a dedicated iPad app, no.
Are you on Blackberry? No, we serve Blackberry users by having a capable mobile web platform.
Was it developed entirely in-house? Or how are you splitting the in-house versus outsourcing at this stage? We do use outsource development help to extend our capabilities, but pretty much everything has been built in-house.
Where are you finding new members? How do you market out to them? We acquire users principally through mobile.
How would you describe MeetMoi as differentiated from the competitors? There are a number of people that have taken an approach to mobile which are natively online services that build quite nice mobile apps. Though they may build in features that are specifically geared to mobile, like location sensitivity, to the extent that it's not the main platform which their users have been habituated to use. The way we've always thought about it is that if it's natively mobile, your location is tracked in real time so that we can provide the best possible location sensitive matches. If you don't know your users' location information in real time, then is worse than useless because it's misleading. A lot of competitors haven't quite got that.
Have you dealt with women differently than guys or is it the same for everybody when it comes to geo-location? I think for us, like most dating services, you design the service to be sensitive to the concerns of your female users. We have a lot of focus groups for women to determine just how to tailor the product to their needs.
How's the wing-man feature working out for you? It's great. One of the challenges that dating sites have is that traditionally people don’t want to invite their friends. One of our objectives was to make dating more social. We wanted to map our product to support the ways people interact in the real world. If I'm in a group of guys looking to meet a group of girls, just meeting one isn't going to do it. I want to be introduced to another group of girls. That's the product benefit.
How are you monetizing at this stage? We've always had a paywall since the inception of the service. If you want to send an email to another user and you're not both in the same place at the same time through the introductions that we make, then you have to become a premium member. On our iPhone and Android apps, that's a $20 a month.
Are you finding that people are sticking around for the typical three months, or how's the behavior a little different than internet dating? I think we're doing better than that. The way our product works is that we're making introductions to you and you don't have to do a whole lot other than view the introductions and make a decision on whether or not you want to act on them, or ignore them.
How does the matchmaking work? What are you matching on? Are you going into personality profiling in the future, do you think? We keep our profiles short and sweet, so our goal is to introduce people to quality matches and learn people’s preferences as they give us feedback. Right now, because it's on mobile and people originate their profiles on mobile, we don't want to give people elaborate personality tests.
Have you seen much difference in the behavior between people across different platforms? So iPhone to iPhone users, Android to Andoird users. Do people behave differently? There's certainly differences in the types of users on Android and iPhone. iPhones are expensive, so it tends to be a more for affluent users. The app ecosystem on iPhone is mostly a paid ecosystem whereas on Android, there is a lot of freeware.
How are you accepting payments? We use carrier billing and credit card.
Do people enter their credit cards, or do they prefer to go through the carrier? We get a lot lower friction conversion on carrier billing without question. We do see quite a lot of credit card revenue as well. Part of it is, we have some algorithms to sort of determine which payment method suits the user, and if they fail on one we present the other.
Of course you'd rather take the credit card, you wouldn't be paying quite so much. A few years it use to be 50% that the carriers were taking for on-deck apps. What are they taking now? They're moving in that direction for sure. It still very tentative.
What do you think is reasonable? Are you happy to pay 30% to Apple? Happy is the wrong word. I think willing is a better word. Seeing revenue shares of 80% is big progress. The reason why I'm willing to pay 30% for iTunes connect is that they've built a community of users that pay and the transaction interface is relatively frictionless. If you look at Google Checkout, by contrast, that takes the same percentage. They haven't yet built in continuity billing, the billing failures are significantly higher than on iTunes. I see Google Checkout as being overpriced, but iTunes can get away with that kind of pricing because they've built the best mobile billing interface out there.
So Google isn't doing month-to-month yet? No, there's not continuity billing in Google Checkout in the app store. They have it as a mobile web or web-based Google Checkout product, but in Google Play, it's transactional billing.
Do you think Blackberry is going to be on the radar in the future? I don't have high hopes for it. It feels like it's riding off into the sunset. We don't have any foreseeable intentions of building out for that platform.
What's your vision for the future? Where is MeetMoi going to be in a year's time? I think we'll be more or less the company we are now. We'd like to have a significantly larger audience concentrated in urban areas. I think in a year's time, we'd like to have a very strong New York audience base. San Francisco, Chicago, L.A., Austin – places like that.
Do you think you'll go into the real world advertising realm? We've already done some event-based marketing. So there will be some offline marketing, but I'd say the bulk of it will be online.
DER SPIEGEL - Andrey Andreyev wants to make his Internet startup the next Facebook, he says, “the next $100 billion company.” From his offices in London, Andreyev oversees Badoo, a growing online-dating and social-networking site. Badoo has 157M members globally, with ~100K more joining each day. The site is part social network, similar to Facebook, and part dating service. Market research shows that 16 of the 20 most popular websites in Europe are American, while the remaining four are Russian. Indeed, the IT boom is the Russian economy’s most notable success since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Another major player in the Internet industry is search engine Yandex. Yandex is the only comprehensive, global search index other than Google and Microsoft’s Bing. Yandex has 3,500 employees with 60% market share in Russia, outstripping Google. It has expanded beyond the borders of the former Eastern Bloc. Yandex hopes to win away up to 20% of Google’s market volume in Turkey. The climate, both in Russia and online, has grown harsher since Putin took over the presidency from Dmitry Medvedev in May. As president, Medvedev liked to be photographed with an iPad, he kept a blog and he presented himself in his Sunday speeches as the Internet’s greatest protector. As recently as December, Putin lauded the Internet as “free and enormously democratic.” But that was campaign rhetoric. The new Internet law allows authorities to block websites without a court order.
BUSINESSWEEK - Aug 25 - Most younger women in China will still marry, but a growing number are choosing to focus on education and career over finding a mate. It is estimated that 7% of college-educated women in Shanghai remain single at age 45. Chinese women employed by multinational companies frequently work more than 70 hours a week. In March, China's top online dating portal, Jiayuan.com, released a report titled Confessions of a Leftover Lady. The survey confirmed the belief among Chinese women born in the 1970s and '80s that the more education they have and the higher their salaries, the harder the task of finding a husband.
by Christina Larson The full article was originally published at SF Gate, but is no longer available.