OPW INTERVIEW - Nov 7 - Geoff and his team have morphed MeetMe. I interviewed him to find out how things have changed. - Mark Brooks
How has MeetMe changed since we last caught up in 2013?
In 2013 we were focused on building out the mobile monetization engine, which we did quite successfully. When we last spoke, mobile was 25% of our revenue, now it's 58%, thanks to the success of our mobile banner and native advertising products. MeetMe continues to focus on meeting new people; we still see ourselves as the mobile equivalent of the bar or coffeehouse. What's different, is our focus on driving new chat partners as a way to connect people to each other. MeetMe today is a mobile chat app for connecting with new people.
I understand you reported your Q3 earnings today. How did it go?
Q3 was a strong quarter all around. We saw 128% growth in mobile revenue YOY to $6.7M in the quarter. Our adjusted Q3 EBITDA grew 213% YOY to $2.18M, and we were net income positive in the quarter too. Our average mobile daily active users were at 888K in Q3, up 15% versus the start of the year. We rank in the Top 15 social Android apps in the US – ahead of Skout, Badoo, Zoosk, OkCupid, and Match.com.
What has spurred the growth?
Chat is the main action in our app. Before we started, we never crossed 10M chats a day. Now we routinely break 15M chats a day, and we had our first 20-million-chat day recently. Within the last few weeks we released a major redesign of our MeetMe apps on both iPhone and Android to make it easier to find new chat partners.
How are you helping users discover compatible people to talk to? How are you defining compatibility?
We want to drive good conversations. A good conversation is a lengthy conversation. Users presently discover people in different ways on MeetMe – in the Meet tab and in Feed. The Meet tab shows the people near you who are available to chat. The Feed displays new photos and status updates of the people near you. We've found people prefer to chat with people local to them of a given age range and gender. Now that our app is optimized visually around the Meet tab since the redesign, we are working on further optimizing that tab by showing only the users most likely to result in lengthy conversation. To do that we leverage our data beyond age, gender, location. Our product pipeline is oriented around interests and leveraging data that affects likely conversation length, which we determine through a series of data experiments, which influence our algorithms. We slice and dice data in many different ways to predict conversation length.
What's the demographics of MeetMe now, and how have they changed?
Our users are young, mobile, and engaged. Our core demo is 18-30 years old. They login 122 times per month on mobile. The US is our biggest market (80% of our traffic) followed by UK, Canada, Turkey, and Brazil. Android is our biggest platform by far, followed by iPhone, and then the web. In terms of how they’ve changed, we’ve become a bit more international and our average users have skewed a year or two older over the last few years.
Why should users use MeetMe instead of Facebook or dating apps like OkCupid, Tinder and Zoosk?
People join MeetMe to make new friends and to find new people to chat with. Facebook is a network for communicating with existing friends. Dating apps like OkCupid, Tinder and Zoosk are for dating and romance. We believe a focus on chatting and friendship reduces churn once connections are made. Also most people prefer to start off as friends before dating. In addition, our business model differs markedly from dating apps. In Q3 we drove 84% of our mobile revenue from ads. Many dating apps tend to become increasingly paid services. We like to build our business and design our products with every user in mind, and not for the one or two percent who might buy a premium service someday.
Are you seeing chat volume helping to drive revenues?
We believe our mobile ARPU is higher than Facebook’s mobile ARPU. We earned $2.29 per mobile user in Q3, which has grown 100% in the last year. We have advertising in Chat so we monetize every user in that way. We've recently announced the launch of a new virtual currency product in Chat called Boost, and we are likely to experiment with others in the future as well.
What can we expect to see from MeetMe in the Future?
We expect to continue to innovate our technology to improve the relevance of chat partners and the quantity of chats. We’ll likely continue to experiment with standalone apps, which we view as inexpensive product research and a quick way to gather user feedback. We've recently launched a new standalone app called Advice Chat for iPhone.