PR NEWSWIRE - May 22 - The first-ever "Singles & Desirability" study by eharmony reveals those who seek a committed relationship are more desirable and more likely to be successful in their pursuit. Older millennials (77%) and Gen Xers (75%) both showed a stronger preference for serious relationships, more than other age groups. The survey results also identified some of the top professions people seek in potential partners: doctor/nurse, teacher/professor, veterinarian, firefighter/police. The study ranked attractiveness as only the 4th most desirable trait behind honesty (54%), kindness (44%), sense of humor (34%), and intelligence (29%).
Q: Tell us about your career trajectory?
A: I moved to LA to play music at 21. While law was a recommended career path for me, studying political science at Auburn University, I ultimately spent most of my time writing music and playing in bands. As I started to look for real work there was a person I knew from music who ran an advertising agency, Sandy Kaye. I told her what I was doing and she said, "I think you would be a good copywriter." I began creating TV and radio advertising, which was fun and difficult. After a few years, I got a call from a friend who asked me to work for eharmony. Over the next 15 years I did every non-technical job in the company. And, in July of 2016, the board asked me to be the CEO.
Q: What got you interested in the industry?
A: During the first TV shoot we did, I got to speak with the couples we were matching, and I was sold.
Q: What projects can we expect to see next under the Parship acquisition?
A: Right now, we're just putting the two companies together. It is a major undertaking to involve teams working between Hamburg and Los Angeles. We're looking at about a year of work to complete these changes.
Q: What in your opinion is the future of dating?
A: As long as consumers feel safe, artificial intelligence and other kinds of technology can make online dating more accurate and effective in specific ways. While I've seen presentations on the integration of DNA matching into an online dating, for example, I'm skeptical of people's willingness to provide samples.
Q: What would you tell your younger self?
A: I would urge my younger self to worry less and continue to make wise choices.
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW - Jan 11 - Computer matching started 1959. The biggest shift occurred in the mid-1990s, with the birth of online dating. 25% of U.S. couples now meet on the internet. Newer sites made matchmaking tech. an important value proposition. eharmony uses a "scientific approach to matching highly compatible singles" and OkCupid does "a lot of crazy math stuff to help people connect faster." But are the lovelorn better served for it? Upon finding a compatible partner, users typically terminate their subscription, hurting the firm’s revenue, therefore it's unclear whether profit-maximizing sites would strive for the most effective matchmaking technology, or deprioritize innovation. According to game theory, users have a better chance of finding a match in a larger community so as a firm reduces its matchmaking effectiveness, more consumers are left unmatched as time goes by, but their continued presence on the platform benefits the newly arrived consumers. Lesser technology can engender positive network effects for a firm. A commission-based model, in which matchmakers charge users based on successful matches, would align the interests of matchmakers and consumers. High-end matchmaking already operates this way. Where commissions are impractical, matchmakers could charge a sizeable, upfront payment to cover a longer subscription period. The key to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes is to resolve the matchmakers' strategy dilemma, making sure their revenue is not negatively affected by their technology innovations.
by Yue Wu & V. "Paddy" Padmanabhan
See full article at Harvard Business Review
How are things going after the acquisition?
The deal closed 1st Nov and its still very early. Things are going very well and the team is happy We're in the same pool as Parship. They have a lot of knowledge and we have a few things we can teach them. Different groups of people are sitting down from eharmony and Parship, marketing, customer service, etc, and seeing how our methods compare. Even though the US and Germany are both very prosperous countries there's a lot of differences. They have developed anti-fraud measures based on the threats they have. We have different threats and different systems. So that's been good to compare. We've taken on a couple of their employees in L.A. to teach them our ways. I feel very positive about the changes.
Where will eharmony be based in the future?
There's a lot of conversation about this going on. We have a long term lease on the L.A. office. Both sides are dedicated to keeping the USA and London offices going. There will be changes. i.e. with the tech stack. We've been around almost 20 years and have the benefit of momentum. We've had the same mission the whole time. That's good. But the code is dusty. And I'm very interested in how we might use some of their tech stack. I think it will be very helpful for us to update our technology.
How will the products be melded?
There are definitely parts of their product that I really love. We had a personality profile for years. It's what we built the business on. We ran the personality profiling feature for 10-12 years and it just seemed at a certain point people were not so interested in it, so we dismantled it. Parship has a really awesome personality profile. Its visually appealing and delivers some immediate value as users get into the service.
From a product viewpoint, noone will notice any difference in the short term with eharmony. We're working on the back-end right now. We've got to do a lot more from a cost and technology standpoint.
What do you make of Tinder being repositioned officially as casual, and Hinge being fully acquired today, and positioned in eharmony territory, meaningful relationships?
I know Justin, and I'm happy for him. When we look at the dating space there are a number of companies we keep an eye on. Bumble is a competitor. Hinge is certainly a competitor that we keep an eye on. We're focused on doing a better job of what we do. Any time Match tries to do something, they have enough firepower to make a dent in the marketplace. But we want to be where people are that want a meaningful relationship.
Where do you see eharmony in a couple years, for 2021, from a visionary standpoint?
We're focused on what our users want. The world of what we can give them is vast. There have been so many swings at features that on paper make sense, in the dating industry. i.e. video. The industry thought they'd move into video, and enabling people to share video. But that just hasn't proven to be true. Video is not the primary thing online daters want. We've looked at DNA matching. There's a lot of people that think that DNA and personality are connected. Obviously you could also match people genetically for someone to marry for genetic compatibility to have children with. But where does that become creepy to users? This is research we haven't done, and frankly I'm not very confident about DNA matching. We think people want to go on more dates. We've talked about how to guide people through our product and onto more dates. We think technology can help with that. A.I. can give us so much more capacity. When people come into eharmony and take our questionnaire, we observe their behavior and it often doesn't synch up with what they said they wanted. If you look at the matches they interact with, that is often a world quite different from what they said they wanted. We observe that and adjust to it. But some people feel they're being spied on, in some weird way. This is a set of computers that are guiding their future matching. So this is going to be something that as society gets more comfortable with A.I. they'll be more willing to let us help them in certain ways.
Tell us about your new Happiness Index
Last year we did some research about happiness in relationships. We're interested in how relationships are going. So we decided to do annual research on relationship happiness. It's on over 2300 people who are statistically representative of USA adults. 83% say they're happy in their relationships, and 1 in 10 say they're not happy in their relationships. The thing that accounts for their happiness is not surprising. People who are similarly educated, politically aligned, and have similar religious affiliations are happier. People say opposites attract, but it really isn't true. Having someone similar just creates a lot less friction in your life.
One of the things that was most surprising from the study, was that intent had a lot to do with happiness. i.e. People actively looking for someone to form a relationship with. If you're the kind of person that is looking for a long term relationship, once you get into a relationship, you generally have a happier relationship. When someone who is negative about wanting a relationship forms a long term relationship, they're less happy. Being intentional about wanting a relationship really helps.
Also interesting... We are in the business of trying to find desirable people. Understanding what makes someone desirable is a pretty important thing to us. This study asks what makes a partner desirable. We assumed physical attraction would be the number 1 thing. It's in the top 5, but it's not 1, 2, or 3. Those things are intelligence, and emotional stability, and being happy! Being with someone that is just a happy person makes your relationship a lot happier. It's important to be with someone who is happy, and smart, and stable, more than physical attraction.
Why are you doing this research?
We feel like we need to know what's going on. Government do research, academics do research, and companies do research. Bit governments aren't doing this kind of research. Academics are focused on using students for surveys, which doesn't help us. So we stepped in to do research.
What else did you learn?
We learned couples who are more in tune with social justice movements are also more happy. So we have the MeToo movement about women being treated more fairly. Men have reported that understanding the MeToo movement has helped them in their relationships. It's interesting to watch things change. People who embrace for example relationships where they have equal power, vs where one person is more dominant, are more happy. Unfortunately, only about 50% of couples have equal power. Half have a more dominant partner.
Does this vary with age?
This research looks at a very wide range of ages. We see the Gen Z group (where the oldest is 24) have much higher levels of equality in their relationships. It will be interesting to see what happens as this group gets older. Gen Z, as a group, is more communicative, equal and adventurous.
I should note, over 2300 people were in the study and were not eharmony users. A random selection consistent with US demographics. To be in the study, participants had to be in some kind of relationship, and the study was done across all age ranges and sexualities. Also interesting, 44% of couples have some kind mental health issues. - Mark Brooks
PR NEWSWIRE - Feb 7 - The second national report "The Happiness Index: Love and Relationships in America," commissioned by eharmony and conducted by Harris Interactive, shows that 83% of Americans are "happy" in their romantic relationships. Only one in nine people in a relationship are extremely or fairly unhappy. Men value happiness, physical attractiveness and health in a partner, while women find emotional and financial stability to be the most desirable. The happiest couples tend to be in love, have a healthy sex life, an equal balance of power. They're also most likely to be younger (25-44), have two kids, and are more likely to have a higher personal income of $75K+ (more than $150K combined in a relationship), and are more educated than their unhappy counterparts.
OPW - Jan 13 - Every day we review the news and bubble up what we think are summaries of the most important intell in the most important news items. All year, every day. Then in January we like to do an annual review of the news and let you know who got the most coverage on OPW.news for the prior year. Subscribe here for daily updates.
Here's the rankings for who got the most press coverage on OPW.news in 2018.
OPW INTERVIEW - Jan 4 - Tim Schiffers is the CEO of the PARSHIP ELITE Group. Together with their shareholder ProSiebenSat.1, a German media company, they acquired eharmony. I interviewed Tim Schiffers yesterday about the acquisition of eharmony. – Mark Brooks
What do you think of the term 'serious dating'?
We think 'serious dating' is a very good position in the market that cannot be attacked so easily. Classical dating services have come under pressure from apps such as Tinder and Badoo. This did not happen with Parship – it even helped us. With the rise of dating apps, online dating has become more and more normal for people, and as soon as they are looking for a serious relationship, chances are high that they will turn to services such as Parship or ElitePartner.
What will you do with eharmony?
eharmony is a pioneer. They are the inventor of online dating based on scientific methods. We feel eharmony has lost some relevance over the past few years by way of their communication and their approach to media and online marketing. In addition, their platform is not completely state of the art. Therefore, the challenge is similar to the one we faced when we acquired ElitePartner three years ago.
Will eharmony move to the Parship platform?
Yes, we are planning to bring the services together on one shared technical platform, the Parship platform. This migration project is quite challenging and will probably take up to 12 months to complete. As far as marketing activities go, we are well on the way with a number of initiatives around brand, media, online marketing and CRM.
Why does the eharmony deal make sense for Parship?
We share the same mission: Bringing people into happy relationships by believing in the concept of scientific matchmaking. That is what Parship and ElitePartner as well as eharmony have done for years; that is what drives every one of our employees. There are also other similarities such as strong, renowned brands and the need for a focused, effective marketing strategy.
What's your thoughts on Facebook Dating?
I see them more in the classical dating camp. They have brought online dating onto the agenda for more people, which is helpful.
Is Parship considering more international acquisitions/options?
We will be very busy with integrating eharmony, working with eharmony on marketing, CRM, and platforms. That is already a big piece of our internationalization; we are broadening out into the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. As you said, it's a match made in heaven. If we see something else that is a fit however, maybe there is another move.
THE JOURNAL - Dec 31 - Dates are more accessible than ever thanks to apps. But it's no easier to find a fulfilling relationship. According to Feargal Harrington, who heads up Irish matchmaking service Intro and online dating site A Real Keeper, singles are getting jaded by dating apps. Intro uses a client relations management system – built for the Dublin company by a statistician – to track its clients and facilitate the matchmaking. But in the end, seven humans make a decision on matches, not an algorithm. Harrington says there is only so much tech can do. "I don't think there will ever be an algorithm that will ever work." One academic study from 2014 hints that the key to finding a soulmate could lie in our DNA. But even DNA and big data aren't nailed on to work, according to Harrington. That's because in his experience, the idea that everyone has a specific "type" of person simply isn't true. Harrington isn't completely sceptical about how much tech can influence dating, and based on the feedback he is hearing from clients, there might be even an appetite for virtual dating. A joint report between eHarmony and the Imperial College Business School suggests that VR dates will be the norm by 2040.
Mark Brooks: People have showstopper criteria, lifestyle preferences, and values that absolutely need matching for. Algorithms do this work best. Algorithms consistently win out when they're modeled on true experts and expertise to create expert systems. I think matchmakers do a good job of accounting for other facets of compatibility that dating services miss or aren't even capable of capturing.
DAILYMAIL.CO.UK - Dec 7 - Online daters reach so-called 'dating capacity' once they have contacted seven potential matches within a week, according to the report from Oxford University. The study also found people who considered themselves attractive were less likely to initiate a conversation than those who did not. The research was conducted by scientists from Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute (OII) in collaboration with eHarmony. The team analysed data generated by ~150K dating profiles set up over the last 10 years.
SOCIALNEWS DAILY - Nov 30 - Scientists from Imperial College London and dating site eHarmony say that by 2025, couples could be paired up in labs, based on their genes. Our DNA plays an important role in choosing our mate. Especially our major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, which controls our immune system and are believed to unconsciously affect who we're attracted to. Researchers theorised that dating sites could use the information to anticipate which users would be attracted to each other, both online and in person.
by Sophie Lloyd
See full article at SocialNews Daily
YAHOO FINANCE - Nov 9 - eHarmony is hoping to launch a chatbot to stop people from ghosting, or cutting off communication with potential matches. The would-be feature, which eharmony has yet to start development on, would pop up in the user interface after an online conversation with another user drops off after several days or weeks. The dating bot feature could be introduced within the next 18 months.
AGENCE PRESSE-FRANCE - Nov 9 - The online dating sector is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help arrange meetings in real life and act as a dating coach. These new uses for AI - the science of programming computers to reproduce human processes like thinking and decision making - by dating apps were highlighted at Web Summit in Lisbon. eHarmony is developing an AI-enabled feature which would nudge users to suggest meeting in person after they have been chatting in the app for a while. "There is a lot of activity on dating apps but by and large there is not a lot of dates," said eHarmony CEO Grant Langston. "Guys don't know how to ask. It's astounding really how many people need help and we think we can do that in an automated way." British dating app Loveflutter plans to use AI to analyse chats between its users to determine their compatibility and suggest when they should meet. "We will ping a message saying 'You are getting along really well, why don't you go on your first date'," said Loveflutter co-founder Daigo Smith. Tinder founder Sean Rad said AI would "create better user experiences" and predicted iPhone's Siri voice assistant would in the future act as a matchmaker. An entirely voice-operated dating app called AIMM which uses AI to mirror a human matchmaking service is already being tested in Denver where it has ~1K users. Badoo is now using AI and facial recognition technology to let users find a match that looks like anyone at all, including their ex or a celebrity crush.
OPW - Oct 30 - ProSiebenSat.1 bought eHarmony for $85 million. A real deal. They'll run on a common platform in the future. eHarmony will do roughly $90m revenues, and $0 profit in 2018. Customer lifetime value for eHarmony is $200, whereas Parship is at $570. More info here. Brand recognition for eHarmony stands above Tinder and on par with the likes of Instagram and American Airlines.
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
As part of the scene setting they stated that Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, was quoted in the past as saying "A.I. is one of the most important things humanity is working on. Its more profound than electricity or fire."
Grant Langston kicked the webinar off and in his intro he mentioned that he started as a copywriter, no less, at eHarmony and has been with the company 18 years now. "I Feel a real attachment to the business and the mission."
Grant also stated that at eHarmony "A.I. is at the heart of everything we do. Integral to the whole company. We probably know more about our customers than any company in the world."
"When you join eHarmony and take 150 questions... We put you in a 'bucket'... Then as you make choices about the matches that we present, the machine is learning about you as an individual... The more you use the product, the more we learn about you."
When asked about if eHarmony reveals much about the A.I., Grant said, "People don't generally want to know about the algorithms and how we match. But it's there if they want to dig in and review it."
The group was asked about where a good place to start with A.I. was and Grant said that many companies may not need to integrate A.I. into the hearts of their products but, "a good place to start with AI is using it in marketing."
Finally, Grant mentioned that A.I. and the eHarmony experience was consistent across mobile and desktop. "We strive to provide the same experience across all of the platforms, for the 5 countries we're in."
FINANCIAL TIMES - Oct 30 - ProSiebenSat.1, one of Germany's largest media groups, has agreed to buy US dating site eHarmony as part of its drive to create the world's biggest online matchmaker. ProSieben already owns stake in Parship Elite, a successful German dating business. ProSieben, which will merge eHarmony with Parship Elite did not disclose financial terms of the deal. But one person briefed on the acquisition said it valued eharmony at $85M - making it a surprisingly cheap date compared with rival Match, which has a market value of $13.7B. eHarmony, which raised ~$100M during just one fundraising round 15 years ago, has spent ~$1B on marketing in recent years, according to the person.
Mark Brooks: eHarmony was sold for more than $85 million, that's for sure. Its brand value alone is worth double that. I'd put them at North of $300 million valuation.
UPDATE: Turns out FT's source was right on. eHarmony was indeed sold for $85m, so I need to eat my proverbial hat. Additional commentary on the IDEA blog.
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
REUTERS - Oct 29 - Germany's ProSiebenSat.1 Media has bought eHarmony, in the first significant deal since it carved out a new e-commerce joint venture with General Atlantic. eHarmony expects 2.8 million new users this year, and complements ProSieben's own Parship dating franchise which is the market leader in Germany. Terms were not disclosed. Parship and sister brand Elite Partner, count 2 million registrations a year. eHarmony has brand awareness of nearly 90% and a very big user base that can be served better from a common platform. ProSieben is pushing to diversify away from its core commercial TV franchise, where ad revenues are flat and the sector is being disrupted by streaming platforms like Netflix. The Munich-based broadcaster bought eharmony via its newly created Nucom division, in which investor General Atlantic took a 24.9% stake in February. Nucom owns 94% of Parship. eharmony raised $113 million in two funding rounds. Most recently in 2004, Tuputele Ventures, TCV, Sequoia Capital and Fayez Sarofim & Co. eHarmony CEO Grant Langston will continue to run the business while representatives of Parship will join its board.
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
BRIGHT TALK - Oct 24 - With AI, every time a customer engages with your brand, you're making that moment really count. Register for this free webinar to learn:
Date: Oct 30, 2018
MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW - Oct 2 - One of the curious features of human courtship is the asymmetry between the roles that men and women play. In recent years, researchers have begun to study this phenomenon in more detail, thanks to the rise of online dating. These show that in general, men tend to initiate contact, and women, often flooded with contacts, are more selective with their responses. Rachel Dinh and colleagues at the University of Oxford in the UK measured the change in online dating behavior on eHarmony's UK site over a 10-year period. They found out that the asymmetry has become more pronounced. "While early on, people might have hoped online dating would create a more equal playing field for women to initiate courtship, it has become clear that online dating has not only reflected but exacerbated male-dominated initiation," say Dinh and co.