WSJ - July 30 - IAC reported higher sales due to the contribution of About Group, as well as an increase in revenue from Match.com. IAC reported a profit of $58.3M, up from $43.3M a year earlier. Total revenue jumped 17% to $799.4M. Match posted a 9% increase in sales (194.3M Q2 Revenue).
by John Kell The full article was originally published at WSJ, but is no longer available.
MEMEBURN - July 30 - Bang With Friends, the Facebook app that aids in casual sex hookups, was banned from the Apple App Store in May and now Zynga is taking it on for trademark infringement. Zynga has filed a complaint suggesting that Bang With Friends selected its name with “Zynga’s game trademarks fully in mind,” and that its name contravenes the company’s trademark, covering titles including “Words With Friends” and “Chess With Friends. Bang With Friends has yet to respond to the allegations, but we can’t imagine that it will back down quickly. Its fortunes, with upwards of 1.1M users, also appear to still be on the up, while Zynga’s are going very much the other way. In June, Zynga was forced to slash 18% of its staff as it continues to battle to adapt to mobile gaming.
BUSINESS WIRE - July 30 - H1 Revenue increased 2% to Eur 83.6M. Subscribers increased by 8% YOY to 811,065. Marketing expenses were Eur 41.2M, corresponding to 49% of revenue, compared with Eur 39M or 48% of revenue. EBITDA was Eur 16.8M compared with Eur 19.1M for the prior year period. Meetic net profit was Eur 10.9M, compared to Eur 11.9M for prior year period.
The full article was originally published at WSJ, but is no longer available.
US NEWS - July 31 - A class action suit against Successful Match alleges that the company broke the law and its promises of confidentiality to customers on PositiveSingles.com by sharing their HIV and STD statuses on "thousands" of spinoff sites, including HIVGayMen.com, STDHookup.com and Blackpoz.com. Meanwhile ChristianMingle.com, a datingsite for Christian singles, is also embroiled in a class action suit, for not offering its dating services to same-sex couples. Christian Mingle is being sued for a violation of human rights law in California, where same-sex marriage is legal.
by Elizabeth Flock The full article was originally published at US News, but is no longer available.
ENTREPRENEUR - July 30 - OkCupid uncovered a puzzling problem. The site's internal ad-impression numbers weren't jibing with those of an advertiser, which were lower. Users were using ad blockers, free web-browser extensions that prevent ads from appearing. In August 2012 OkCupid published a special notice that was inserted behind every ad position on the site. When users of ad blockers visited the site, instead of seeing white space where ads would typically appear, they saw an OkCupid banner that read, "So normally there would be an ad in this spot. But you're using an ad blocker like a boss … Here's a solution: You donate $5 to us once, and we remove all ads from the site forever." Yagan would not disclose specific financial results from the program but claims that the banner spurred a significant share of donations. People were willing to support the site directly with cash.
EMERCE - July 30 - Ashley Madison, the infidelity dating services, has officially launched in Netherlands. The site has recently launched in Japan and India and announced it had crossed 20M member milestone.
FOX NEWS - July 26 - Seventeen Magazine, which targets females ages 12 to19, published an article “17 dating blogger: would you do online dating?” Some critics were shocked that online dating was being promoted to such a young demographic, especially because the potential dangers of meeting mystery men or women online, and the fact that Match.com states users must be 18 years of age to register.
OPW - July 31 - Online Personals Watch is a service of Courtland Brooks. We've been running OPW since June 2004. Courtland Brooks does
strategy, media relations and business development for the iDating
industry. We're laser focused on the iDating industry, and that's the
only industry we serve. We help iDating companies, and we help
companies with best-in-class services that want to talk to them.
Over the years we've recruited great people from the
iDate conference to work on the team. We're an ad-hoc team of iDating
industry professionals. For $65k a year, the price of a junior
marketing manager, our clients get access to a team of seasoned iDating
professionals. We don't do overheads, so you're paying for the people,
not the fancy offices.
Our overarching mission is to grow the entire industry. ...and we help iDating companies make more money. - firstname.lastname@example.org
OPW INTERVIEW - July 30 - In the future India will be one of the top three revenue-producing iDating markets. myZamana was started by a Meetmoi alumni and is doing well there now. Here’s our introduction to the founder Ashish Kundra and myZamana. - Mark Brooks
myZamana.com is a primarily Indian Dating site. I see that about 70% of your traffic on Alexa is in India. Yes, that is correct.
What's your background? You worked at MeetMoi? I did, I interned at MeetMoi during college. It was my first exposure to the dating space. When I graduated I moved to Boston, and started programming various sites. My sister was single and looking for a date. I thought, "Why don't I build her a service?" That's how it all got started.
What did you learn from MeetMoi? That seems really relevant to the Indian Market. 49% of all Internet usage is on mobile in India. Yeah, MeetMoi was definitely very early on in the mobile dating space. It was an unfamiliar concept to people at that time. Now the mantra is "Mobile First."
How did you start of? How many users do you have now?
Initially, it started like JDate for Indians. The focus was primarily on the US market, which in retrospect was the completely wrong way. My goal is to build a very large, long-term, mainstream site, and it turns out the Indian market is much larger than the Indians in the US market. There are four million South Asians in the US and a billion in India.
First we signed up 10K users from large metropolitan areas in US. Then I started seeing an influx of users from India until I really just couldn't ignore it. Within a few months most of our users were in India, and I started doubling down in that market.
You mentioned that half of the population of India is under 25 at this stage. What are their thoughts on the likes of Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony? It depends on the person's background. If you are from a rural area and don't have Internet connection then obviously all of this is irrelevant to you. If you are from a more traditional household, then Bharat Matrimony and Shaadi might be good options for you. If you are living in a city, you might want to choose your own date and not want to be subjected to the kind of patriarchal system of arranged marriages, which I see Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony as synonymous to.
What is myZamana's fit in the market? We are basically a mainstream service that helps people meet new people.
Who would you class as your competitors in India? There are a couple of startups going after the dating/meet new people market, but there isn't one competitor we really look at.
You are at 1.2 million users so far. We want to be one of the leaders in this market. It's really early days, only 11% of the market is online, so we are patient.
How is the infrastructure though? Are you finding most of your users in mobile as well? Surprisingly, most of our users have mobile devices, but we still get a lot of traffic from the web. Android is definitely the biggest app platform there.
The payment infrastructure is very recent, so it's really hard to accept payments. We don't, we are a free site. We are ad supported, and we really like that model. It works well for us.
3 or 4 years ago we did some work with a group dating app called Ignighter. They started in USA and got popular in India. Now they are bases out of India and changed their name to StepOut. What is your take on that? India is very interesting market given how rapidly it's changing and how large it's eventually going to be. It was a wise decision for them, and they are a pretty significant player in the market.
What's your end goal? Where will you be in 2 years time? In 2 years time, if we grow maybe the order of magnitude or two, we'll be definitely a pretty big player in the meeting new people/dating space. It really depends on the Internet penetration in India which is now 11%.
In terms of monetization, what are the options that are becoming available now? What do you think it's going to look like in a couple years time for means of payment? Currently there are four options. Mobile payments where carriers take 75% fee and the transactions are capped at around $2, so it’s really not worth it. Your second option is brick and mortar payment collections, which is what Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony do. The third option is credit card payments online. But the credit card penetration is around 4%. Fourth option is advertising, that's what we're really big fans of. In the future the credit card penetration will pick up.
Have you thought about monetizing the diaspora? We don't really spend a lot of time thinking about that. It's probably a pretty good short-term business opportunity, but in the long run I don't see it as a viable option. We want to invest things where we see a presence in 10 years. The US market is shrinking. ,South Asians here will not forever want to marry only South Asians.
Would you describe myZamana as a social discovery site? Is that a good title for this section of the industry? Yea, I think that could work.
PR WEB - July 30 - Over the five years through 2013-14, Australian online dating revenue is expected to increase at a compound annual rate of 5.3%. In 2013-14, revenue is expected to increase 3.4% to reach $108.1M. While the Dating Services industry is dominated by four main companies, there is a growing level of smaller niche alternatives. Significant players in the industry are Fairfax Media (RSVP), eHarmony, IAC Search & Media (Match.com) and 3H Group (Oasis). You can download the report here.
OPW - July 29 - Max Polyakov, the former CEO/co-founder of EasyDate/Cupid, picked up BeNaughty.com and Flirt.com from Cupid.com two weeks ago for a cool 43.1m GBP / 50m Euros. The market reacted favorably but the 7% bump-up was short lived. The 52 week high was 212p. Cupid's stock took a beating in Q1 and leveled off in April. Now its at ~65p. It's still up slightly after Max stripped out Cupid's casual dating sites. The current price values Cupid at about 5x earnings.
Meanwhile, the price and payment terms seemed quite favorable for Max at ~4x 2012 EBITDA with the bulk of the price paid over a period of more than 3 years. Anyone want to call Max a sweetheart? But the reality is, this is indicative of how few buyers there are for properties with adult themed content versus mainstream dating properties.
My experience has been that buyers want to pay 2-5x EBITDA for iDating companies. Sellers want 6-12x. Never the twain shall meet. Unless Match is buying.
So lets have a quick look at how the public iDating companies are being received by the investment community. Here they are in pecking order by YOY stock growth.
Up Spark Networks - at $5, grew most of the year and is now growing towards $9 Jiayuan - at $5, now at $6
Flat IAC / Match - peaked at $53 and went down. now low $50 range again
Down Meetic - rose to 12 euros last July. then to 13+, now back to just under 12 Meetme - at $2, rose to $4+, then slid back to under $2 Snap Interactive - at $1.40, slid to 40c, now at ~90c FriendFinder - from 90c to 30c Cupid - from 200p, now down to 65p
Spark Networks recent rampant success is fueled by hope. Hope (and PR) is powerful, and massive media marketing to a group of people of faith (ChristianMingle.com) should help to bolster this performance stock for the short to medium term.
Unfortunately it seems my best advice to you right now would be...sure, go ahead and invest your careers in Internet Dating but stash your cash under your mattress. Your comments please.
BBC.CO.UK - July 29 - ~10,000 online dating profiles has been sold to the BBC's Panorama programme, many of which were fake. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said it will investigate the sale. The profile seller Edgars Apalais has denied that people did not give consent for their contact details to be shared. Some profiles included photographs of celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Michael Caine and the TV chef Rick Stein. Edgars Apalais agreed to an interview and BBC secretly recorded the conversation.
THE VERGE - July 26 - Earlier this year, users of Grindr started seeing a sharp increase in the number of attractive men saying hello to them. Some of the most provocative profiles on Grindr aren’t men at all, but spambots designed to lure credulous users into turning over their credit-card information. Spambots are not unique to Grindr; the world of dating apps is filled with scam artists. Grindr will soon release an update that requires users to verify their accounts by providing a valid email address and creating a password. Joining Grindr requires only downloading the app and opening it up — immediately, the user is greeted with profiles of dozens of nearby men. Competitors like Scruff and Jackd have long required users to create an account, and seem to be less prone to spam. But they’re also less popular.