MASHABLE - Sep 28 - Created in 2000, HOTorNOT became an overnight viral hit by letting people upload pictures of themselves so total strangers could rate their attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10. Twenty years later, HOTorNOT's DNA is embedded into almost every major platform that defines how we interact online today. "Everything about HOTorNOT was about finding ways to connect people. We really saw ourselves as trying to build the ultimate people router," said one of HOTorNOT's two co-founders, James Hong. "It was a different internet at the time," said Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter. A good friend of Hong, he called him one of the smartest people he knows in Silicon Valley. "Most people hear HOTorNOT and think of the ranking feature, which is crude and sort of questionable in today's light," he said. "But there was always a deep caring and humaneness in how they did things." HOTorNOT made ~$4M by 2003 (with ~88% of revenue coming from auto-renewing subscriptions). The site's downfall began with the arrival of Web 2.0, when web platforms with "venture money started pouring back into startups again. HOTorNOT couldn't compete with services that were free and relying on cash from investors to pay their bills," Young said. He also cited the loss of their talented and ambitious employees who left to start their own companies, like Crunchyroll. HOTorNOT was sold to Avid Life Media for ~$20M in 2008. In 2012, it was sold to Badoo. Badoo only revived HOTorNOT to turn it into another Tinder app clone launching in 2014.
by Jess Joho
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