VICE - Feb 26 - Vice spent a day at the iDate European Internet dating conference that took place last October in London. Over 40 CEOs, CTOs, COOs and CFOs attended the event. Like a lot of things that have the Internet as their bedrock, the online dating market is increasingly winner-takes all. A handful of companies control the roadway. Everyone else is hanging on. "It's one of those industries where the monkeys all mistake themselves for future gorillas," one attendee explains. "In any business, you have monkeys, chimps and gorillas. Gorillas are the market leaders. In online dating, it's The Match Group. They spend the most on marketing and product design, they get the numbers, they win the game. Now, there's still enough space in the market for copycats to take a bit off the gorillas – the monkeys – provided they simply copy and don't spend on R&D or marketing. Chimps are businesses that invested heavily in becoming the gorillas, but lost the race. So their best strategy is to find a niche – become their own gorilla in a smaller sub-market. There's a niche for everyone. But you've got to recognise which category you are, or else you'll invest too much, or too little. The amazing thing is that, despite all the cheap gags and easy scorn, it seems to be working. Last year, a UK study reported that half of all respondents had only ever asked someone out online, never face-to-face. In the States, 13% of dating survey respondents said they'd got engaged or married from an app. Those numbers will only rise.