JNS - Oct 13 - With over 3,500+ known marriages, JWed.com claims to be the most successful online Jewish dating for marriage service. 65% of all JWed marriages are woman initiated - where the first contact was made by a female member, reaching out to a male member.
JNS.ORG - July 27 - Jewish dating site JWed launched a video date scheduler on its mobile app this week. The video chat and date scheduler are seamlessly integrated into the existing chat functionalities, allowing users to meet virtually and safely while in quarantine or under stay-at-home orders. The virtual date scheduler enables members to arrange dates in advance, without having to exchange any personal contact information.
JEWISH JOURNAL - July 24 - In celebration of Jewish dating site JWed's 3,300th marriage, it is giving away two tickets to Israel to a couple who met through the website. Couples are encouraged to submit their stories and photos for a chance to win the contest. JWed launched in 2001, originally named Frumster, an Orthodox dating website. JWed was renamed in 2012 to reach the broader Jewish community.
ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS - Sep 13 - The popular Orthodox Jewish dating service, Frumster, will change its name to JWed, according to JWed CEO and primary majority owner, Ben Rabizadeh. Ben Rabizadeh was actually one of Frumster’s first users back in 2001. He loved the site so much that he decided to buy it. The site launched in Dec 2001. Ben bought it in Sep 2003. The birth of the JWed site happened in 2005, as an upshot of this. So originally there were two parallel sites but they always shared the same database. Today, JWed has ~100K registered users.
OPW -- Apr 2 -- Just a few weeks ago the likes of NPR were reporting that while the economy is hurting, online dating seems to be booming as people seek companionship and understanding during hard times. However, Spark Networks, who are responsible for such sites as JDate.com, ChristianMingle.com and BlackSingles.com, showed down numbers in their Q4 results. Paid memberships were down 11% from Q4 2007, and down 12% for the full year. Revenue followed the same trend, showing an 18% decrease to $13.2 million for the quarter compared to $16 million for Q4 2007. Spark Networks were down 12% ($57.3m) for the full year compared.
During Q1 2007, the Chairman and CEO of Spark Networks, Adam Berger, reported that “JDate.com grew for the third straight quarter following last year’s price increase” and they launched an additional website, JDate.co.uk, for the U.K. Spark Networks did not report separately on JDate.com, but lumped it in with its other Jewish Networks.
By the end of 2008, numbers for Jewish Networks were no longer growing, noting a 5% decrease in revenue for Q4 and up by a mere $100,000 from the prior year. Considering they added a whole new site to this category, you would expect to see a more significant revenue increase for the year. Paying subscribers were also down by 5% over the previous quarter, down 7% compared to Q4 2007, and down 4% for the year. Berger did note his disappointment with second half trends and the fourth quarter in particular, “as revenue and subscribers decreased sequentially in each online segment”. It should also be noted, however, that JDate experienced an “overhaul” in Q4 and began a re-launch in early 2009 for what Spark Networks clearly hopes will be a better financial year for online dating.
Interestingly, it is reported on Compete.com that JDate is actually up by 8.6% for the year, though this is not reflected in Spark’s report because of the aforementioned Jewish Networks lumping. After JDate.com, the next 3 largest Jewish dating sites are Frumster.com, which was down by 12.6% for the year, JewishFriendFinder.com, which was up 1.8%, and JewishCafe.com, which was up by 12.9% according to Compete.com. Based on this outside information, it begs the question of Spark Networks as to which of its Jewish Networks sites are dragging down the numbers for the year, since JDate seems to be doing rather well.
As Berger noted, revenue was mostly down across the board for Q4, as well as for the year as a whole. 'General Market Networks' (AmericanSingles.com) posted a 25% decrease for the quarter and 51% for the year, though Spark Networks is attributing this largely to a 59% decrease in the marketing expenditure. Spark has been winding down the once category leading AmericanSingles since it decided to go the niche route and buy MingleMatch back in 2005. 'Other Affinity Networks' came out about even with the prior quarter at $3.5 million, and was even up 3% compared to the previous year. Offline & Other Businesses was down 54% compared to Q4 2007, although it was up 18% from the prior quarter, it was still down 22% for the year.
To increase their bottom line Spark Networks also decreased operating and direct marketing expenses for 2008. Operating expenses, which include customer service, sales and marketing, and technical operations, were reported to be down 12% from the previous quarter, and down 19% from 2007 end of year. Direct marketing expenses were down 27% from the previous quarter, and down 29% for the year. Perhaps they should be increasing this, instead?
Sure, Spark is down, but how about the rest of the dating industry. How is YOUR dating site doing year-over-year now compared to last year, now that Valentines is over? Your comments please.
Frumster, LLC is no longer for sale as of January 2009. The company has decided to reinvest all revenue into increased marketing and improvement of their technological platform. The company does not anticipate putting the company back up for sale in the foreseeable future.
OPW INTERVIEW -- Aug 2 -- Ben runs Frumster and JWed, and they are for sale. According to Compete they have ~6% of the traffic of JDate, but have a lot more potential to grow. - Mark Brooks
What's the company's founding story?
Frumster.com was started in December of 2001 by a gentleman in Israel (actually a Canadian who had moved to Israel) and I was one of the first members to join the service. I had heard about it pretty much on the first day. At the time I had nothing to do with the site in terms of ownership. I was pretty impressed with the service, and after about a year, the owner was going through financial difficulty because he was running it for free and it started taking up all of his time. So he started asking for donations, but he didn't get enough. Suddenly, he started charging a monthly fee for the service without warning. So it went from a free service to $18 overnight. And within 48 hours he set it back to a free service because of so many complaints.
It was obvious there was an opportunity there. He needed money to operate the service because by that point it was pretty much a full time venture. I was in between jobs, so it was just a good opportunity for me. I contacted him and asked him if the business was for sale and it was. We ended up purchasing it by September 2003. So pretty much 1 ½ years after he had started it, we had taken it over and turned it into a real business.
What does the name Frumster mean?
I think he told me he got the 'ster' originally from a Saturday Night Live skit with the copy machine man. Benster making copies! Napster and Friendster, etc. Frum is a Yiddish word which means religiously observant. So when it was started, it really was a niche service. At the time, the only Jewish dating service out there was JDate, and the religious community didn't feel comfortable in that environment. It wasn't niche enough for them. So he created Frumster as a breakaway from JDate to attract the religious niche.
Frumster requires you to specify your level of observance. What are the choices?
You can choose between Traditional, Modern Orthodox-Machmir, Modern Orthodox-Liberal, Yeshivish Modern, Yeshivish/Black Hat, Chasidic, Carlebachian, Shomer Mitzvot. We later added the non-observant categories, which are Reform, Conservative, and Traditional, and we have a unique category called Traditional and Growing.
Frumster originally was started as a site targeting religious Jews, but over time, and it happened pretty rapidly as soon as we bought the service, we transformed to a marriage-oriented service. It's been like this for several years now. We really don't mention too much about religion anymore as it's really focused on Jewish dating for marriage. We still retain the religious flavor of the environment and make it comfortable for people, so we're very strict about, for example, uploaded photos. We make sure they're modest. No pictures in bathing suits and the like. We still retain our religious type of environment, but our marketing is focused on our target audience, who is anyone who is very serious about getting married.
So the site is for sale. Why are you selling?
The site is for sale, mostly, for personal reasons. When I bought the company, I really bought it as an investment so I just wanted to take the company to the next level. It was really a home based website that had no resemblance to a business at all, so we had to create a company. My goal was to turn it into a real business and sell it and move on to the next thing.
So it's really a personal choice. I think of myself more as an investor then a manager/operator.
How much are you asking for Frumster?
We're trying to get the most we can, obviously. But typically, from what we've seen in the dating industry, the valuations are about 2 ½ to 5 times annual sales. So we're looking in that range.
How much revenue is generated from the site?
This year we'll be close to $800,000 if not over, so somewhere plus or minus $800,000 for 2008. That's roughly 5,000 subscribers. Our subscription rates are less then half of our competitors, the big ones, J-Date, Match.com and eHarmony. So we've been increasing our fees. So we think that as we catch up with our monthly fees, we should be over seven figures in revenue.
Do you have plans to start another site?
Aside from the sale, I should mention that we started a new Jewish dating site called JWed.com, which is also part of the sale. JWed is really an incredible opportunity because it speaks to the much larger JDate niche, the non-observant Jewish niche, because again even though we accept non-observant Jews on Frumster, the name Frum speaks to religious clientele and actually dissuades those who are not religious.
So we started JWed, which we've been in the process of launching in the last several weeks and it should be ready now. We've already been accepting registrants and things are going pretty well. So that's what we've been focusing on: JWed. Most of the buyers we're talking to are really interested in JWed. Frumster is a niche, the members are there, it's solid, it's not going anywhere and everything is word of mouth. Its one of those niche sites that have low marketing costs because its community based. Whereas JWed is a much, much larger customer base spread around the world more geographically then the observant base. That market is about 15 times the size of Frumster.
I don't know if you know JDate's numbers, but it's a pretty big market. We're very excited about JWed, so if we happen not to sell we're really going to be focusing on JWed in the next year or two, and if we do sell, there is a possibility we'll still be involved in a strategic role.
NEWS TIPS -- Apr 7 -- Frumster.com, the Jewish Dating-for-Marriage service (5 wedding each week), has just announced that the company is for sale. Frumster recently reached its 1000th Matched milestone and has grown steadily since its inception in 2001.
ASSOCIATED PRESS -- Mar 17 -- Frumster focuses on Jewish singles looking for marriage with someone who shares their religious values. The name comes from the Yiddish word "frum" which means "modest." Pictures have to be "modest," meaning no women in bikinis or men showing off their pecs. Frumster asks detailed questions about religion. The site was started in 2001, charges $14.95 a month and has about 21,000 members. About 80% of users are Orthodox Jews. About 55% of the matches are initiated by the women, which is unusual in the Orthodox world where women usually have to wait for men to make the first move.