TECH CRUNCH - Jan 25 - Men and women experience online dating very differently. Men typically send out hundreds of emails hoping someone will respond. Women can receive hundreds of emails a week, but respond to less than 2%. Most dating profiles are static and lack social network updates. For most social discovery startups, there is a significant cold-start problem. Few startups are funded well enough to afford the marketing required to achieve scale. No social dating site has gained meaningful traction: theComplete.me (10K), Yoke (10K), Circl.es (1K), LikeBright (1K), thedatable (200), and atthepool.com have struggled. With Graph Search, can Facebook reinvent dating, drive down the associated stigma? Just because someone’s profile indicates they are single does not mean they are ready for dating. On Facebook, receiving messages from strangers feels creepy. Facebook’s profiles are shallow. The real question may be how important is the dating market to Facebook? It will be a challenge to run so many vertical solutions: dating, recruiting, ratings, reviews, etc. Facebook can easily leverage their massive social graph to enable meaningful friend-of-friend introductions. They can create very detailed, self-updating profiles by displaying and structuring data from Pinterest, Spotify, Pandora, Yelp, Netflix, Amazon, ESPN, GoodReads and more. They can dominate real-time communication: chat, check-ins, poke, texting and Skype video chat.
PR WEB - Jan 18 - People Discovery site theComplete.me raised $500K in financing from Western Technology Investment and relaunched as LikeIt.com. Similar to Facebook’s new Graph Search beta product, LikeIt enables social people discovery, helping users connect to others who are talking about the things they like and share their attitudes. The LikeIt social graph, already ~20M people strong, expands people search beyond the Facebook network, allowing users to easily aggregate interests and activities from eight other social networks.
The full article was originally published at SF Gate, but is no longer available.
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
OPW - Dec 16 - TheCompleteMe, an online dating startup created by former Match.com exectuves, rebranded as LikeIt.com. LikeIt.com connects friends of friends through their interests and "likes" on Facebook.
NY POST - Oct 27 – theComplete.me and Mirror.co are two new online dating companies that launched in March which mandate transparency. Mirror.co requires a phone number, which is used in a double-blind text messaging system and also has a vouching system. TheComplete.me uses verified Facebook accounts to mimic the way singles meet in traditional ways.
by Jozen Cummings
The full article was originally published at NY Post, but is no longer available.
OPW - Aug 1 - There are only 2 days left to register for the Social Discovery Conference using our special link, and save ~50% ($445) off the registration at the door. The conference is taking place next week, on Aug 6-7 in San Francisco at the Merchants Exchange Building. Speakers include: Steve Sarner (Tagged), Cody Simms (StumbleUpon), Geoff Cook (MeetMe), Brian Bowman (theComplete.me), Drew Dillon (Yammer), Louise Thompson (Badoo), Larry Magid (CBC News) and others.
WEBWIRE - July 20 - Brian Bowman, CEO of theComplete.me, is scheduled to speak at the Social Discovery Conference in San Francisco. He will cover trends in social discovery and mobile, including business models and consumer usage. The conference will be held August 6-7.
OPW INTERVIEW - July 3 - Dating Factory has done well white labelling in Continental Europe, and is now setting its sights on the USA and UK markets. Tanya Fathers has some considerable heritage in the idating industry now, after co-founding World Dating Partners in 2001. She moved onwards and upwards to co-found Dating Factory in 2009. (Full Disclosure: Dating Factory is a client of Courtland Brooks)
This interview was conducted by Brian Bowman, CEO of theComplete.me. Formerly the VP Product at Match.com.
What makes your company unique?
First we don't have our own dating websites, so we don't compete against our customers. We only provide technology. Secondly, we allow people to own databases.
Can you give us two examples of URLs running on your business?
We have about 8000 URLs all together. eDateability, for example, which was on CNN News or DatingBuddies.com.
A question around identity. Why do you think that dating sites require consumers to be anonymous? Is it to protect the business model of paying to communicate or is it something that consumers want?
Both reasons. People are paying to be able to talk to each other. But also a lot of them want to stay anonymous.
So do you think that anonymous as an option is OK, or do you think every user should be required to be anonymous? So if I'm a consumer and I don't want to be anonymous, do you think a website should allow a user to do that?
I think on freemium websites, maybe. On subscription websites, it just defeats the object.
Do you think that criminal background checks are important?
They are very misleading at the moment. To conduct a proper background check, it takes a lot of a person's time. I would be against this particular approach.
Misleading because you think that the information you get back is less than accurate?
Yes, it's not possible to do it 100% accurately with this particular approach. It creates a false feeling of security. They think that this guy is properly checked but he is not.
So you think that jDate, Match, and eHarmony went far enough or did not go far enough in terms of the background checks? And should they have offered them to everyone including non-subscribers? What's your take on that?
I think it can be a service on demand. It needs to be connected to proper background check agencies. Consumers have to realize that they have to pay more for a proper background check.
What matching do you provide for your clients? Is it scientific matching, or is it just based on the parameters in the profile?
We run two platforms at the moment. Partners can decide which one they want to use. We offer a standard and advanced matching where people can choose different criteria and narrow down the searches by interest, age group, and so on. Then there is a proper psychology matching based on 60 different criteria and social metrics; sexuality matching that was designed particularly for the dating purposes by a proper psychologist; there's a combination of sexuality, psychology and interests which we call “a perfect match”.
Eli Finkel has come out pretty strongly showing that the science of personality testing doesn't produce compatible long term relationships. What do you think is the future of sites that use that as the foundation of their matching algorithm? Do you think they have to change? Do you think they should stop making scientific claims, or just let it be a marketing message?
Just let it be a marketing message. There are plenty of audiences that want to be matched.
Where do you think the responsibility of a dating site ends? What should be the promise? Is it a good first date? Should it be that we have more marriages than anyone else? What is the actual deliverable promise of a dating site?
Connecting people. You can not promise marriages. You can connect them and hope for the best.
Is matching around interests important?
It is. In our system, we have quite a few dating sites created around different interest groups.
Where are you pulling the interests from? Is it just asking the person or are you pulling it out of the social interest graph?
We are asking people at the moment. We do offer automatic registration using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ but not so many people are using it because of the privacy.
What do you think is the impact of asking them to register using Facebook? Is it negative?
Our conversions dropped when we asked them to.
Dropped by how much?
It was about a 20% drop, which is why we removed it very quickly as a mandatory entity and left it to our partners to decide.
How do you define social dating? What does it mean to you?
I think social dating is creating an environment where people can communicate slightly wider than only looking for other single people. It's creating a sense of belonging to some sort of community as well as adding some gadgets people can use on mobile. Creating more modern technology.
Is the integration of social networking features like friends and interests and social profiles important into a dating experience? Should it be required or do you think it's just an optional benefit?
I think it's optional. Possible interests can be more enforced on people because it creates all of their profile. People don't want to tell their friends that they are on a site looking for somebody.
What demographic would be most interested in social dating?
Probably younger people at this stage.
Why do you think the major dating sites such as Zoosk, Match and eHarmony, haven't integrated friends, or the interest graph into their dating experience?
I just don't think they are flexible enough to try and experiment. Maybe Match.com's demographic is not ready for social dating.
Social discovery, if we were to define it broad as meeting new people, sometime for friendship, sometimes for dating. Do you think the social discovery market is broader than online dating?
I think online dating is part of social discovery.
Do you think social discovery consumes online dating or do you think they continue to be separate markets?
I think it actually consumes it from what I can see.
In what period of time?
It's hard to tell. Social discovery is definitely much broader and there's lots of single people that go for this sort of situation in hopes to find somebody around social events. The dating entity will always be there. I don't think it will be completely consumed.
When do you think it starts to really impact the dating industry then? Do you think it's already started or it hasn't started yet?
Since 2002, every year there is this question. Free dating will kill paid dating, social networks will kill dating. Dating is a basic human need. I can't see anything killing it.
How important is mobile to your business? What percentage of people use mobile on your platform?
It is very important. We’ve launched our mobile version recently, and we used HTML5. But we are also producing apps on demand. Before we had a mobile version, about 10% of our users were browsing the dating sites on mobile devices. We expect it to be higher now, of course because the interface is more user friendly.
Do you think HTML5 is hurting that, because it is not interactive enough, or no?
We'll see. We've done HTML5 as a basic version for the whole platform. And we do applications customized for partners because we don't want to jeopardize marketing initiatives. It has to be different.
So what are the important features for mobile?
Register. Login. Browse. View profile. Pay.
Do you think a different business model will be embraced because of mobile? Is it micro-transactions or mobile check ins?
Micro-transactions are imperative if you want to cover world wide. In some countries there are restrictions on how much you can charge.
With Groupon-like dating, do you think that can extend the lifetime value of consumers? Do you think mobile enables that more? Or not important?
Mobile is more interactive. I think everyone keeps it in their pocket and if a nice lady pops up they will look at it. So I would say that mobile is essential for longer term interaction.
In terms of profiles, do you see profiles changing from this sort of heavy text-based profile to something different, whether it's on social or mobile?
It becomes more visual. People hate doing lots of typing these days, especially if they register on mobile.
To learn more about Social Discovery, check out the Social Discovery conference, August 6-7th in San Francisco.
HUFFINGTON POST - May 24 - "Facebook has created a shift from online dating to social dating," said online dating expert Julie Spira. Dating sites such as theComplete.me and Circl.es are using social networks, rather than science, to help singles find romance. The creators of these sites say this will help keep users honest and accountable for their actions. "You can't put up a fake picture and misrepresent yourself on Facebook when you have 600 friends," said Circl.es founder Justin Krause. Yoke.me and theComplete.me, match singles based on personal information shared on Facebook. Yoke.me even invites friends to play matchmaker and set up singles they think would hit it off. "It just takes the stigma attached to online dating and melts it away when you realize you know someone in common," said Brian Bowman, CEO of theComplete.Me.
WEBWIRE - Apr 23 - Brian Bowman will provide the keynote address at the 9th annual iDate West Coast Mobile Dating Conference. The event takes place on June 20-22, 2012 at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. Bowman is the CEO/Founder of theComplete.me, the Internet’s first social dating network. He is the former VP of Product Match.com, VP of Community Yahoo!, and CMO Reply.com.
TECH CRUNCH - Apr 16 - TheComplete.me launched a Facebook app in March that pulls in and analyzes data from Facebook and other social sites to figure out who you might be a good fit with. Led by Brian Bowman, the former VP of product at Match.com, it’s also announcing $1.22M seed round from Intel Capital, psuedo-rival dating site PlentyofFish, the CrunchFund, and a list of prominent angels. The app goes further than Facebook, too. Once you’re logged in, you can also connect with LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Photobucket, Flickr, Foursquare, GoodReads, and Instagram. It then pulls in unique data about you from each service to figure out even richer matches. In private beta testing so far, it has amassed ~1.5M profiles of users and their friends, which is already helping to shape recommendations. At the same time, theComplete.me preserves anonymity. Users only see each others first names initially, and nothing gets posted to Facebook for others to see (unless you manually enable it to do that).
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
OPW - Apr 12 - Funders And Founders is hosting an innovation show for Internet dating startups and funders. 50 of them, and 800 attendees. The event will be held in San Francisco, on April 18th at 7pm at The Fairmont Hotel.
I will be keynoting and on the panel of angel investors and influential reporters. Other speakers include Shayan Zadeh, CEO of Zoosk, Brian Bowman, CEO of theComplete.me, Rob Theis who currently serves on the boards of BrightRoll, HubSpot, RingCentral and Scale Computing. 50+ startups will showcase their products to early adopters, potential customers, reporters and investors. The 3 winners will pitch form the stage to a panel of angels.
PR WEB - Mar 13 - Social dating network, theComplete.me, launches Beta site. Members can meet each other through the real interests, experiences and friends from eight social networks, and via images and videos pulled in from around the Web. Founded by Brian Bowman (CEO), former VP Product Match.com & VP Community Yahoo!, and Shashikant Joshi (CTO), former Founder/CTO Perfode, theComplete.me startup team and Board of Advisors include Fran Maier, Co-founder of Match.com, Trish McDermott, former VP Public Relations Match.com, and other former Match.com and Internet executives.
GIGAOM - Mar 7 - TheComplete.me, formed by former Match.com executives, connects people through their interests using their real identity and encourages users to express themselves through Pinterest-like pinning of objects. TheComplete.me, which went public today at the Launch conference, pulls together a person’s profile using data from social networks. Their interests get visually represented on a FraME similar to a Pinterest Board. And like Pinterest, people can use a bookmarklet to add items to their FraME from anywhere on the web. The more a person shares, the higher their ME score is, indicating how authentic and real they are. Brian Bowman said he decided to leave Match.com after he realized that the company was not prepared to leverage the social web. Trish McDermott, former VP of Public Relations Match.com who is also on the founding team, said the old way of checking off boxes and creating lists of interests doesn’t reflect the true personality of people and actually keeps people from learning who someone really is. But with social networking, people are learning to be transparent and authentic.
by Ryan Kim
See full article at GigaOm
OPW INTERVIEW - Feb 6 - We interviewed Gary Kremen last month.
You’re the co-founder and were the first GM of Match.com. How did you get involved with Match and what’s your side of the founding story?
Gary and I are good friends, and we were back then. Gary was looking for somebody to run Match.com. We connected at our reunion and he told me he wanted somebody who really knew how to market women. He thought it was important to get women to Match.com so men would follow.
Gary’s idea was to charge per email or contact. I pushed forward the membership model and of course that’s the model in most online dating sites.
The other important thing was giving people advice on how to use the site better. A lot of people didn’t get that we were creating, not just personals online, but that we were really inventing something. This was back in 1995, before anyone knew about social networking.
What were the companies back them? Webpersonals.com, matchmaker.com and Match.com?
There were a few but they weren’t sophisticated about the marketing and customer acquisitions. They didn’t work with any partnerships and I don’t think they thought about targeting women. We were doing really well at attracting women and keeping them.
On that point you went on after Match.com to work as VP of Women.com. What do women want from idating that many dating sites are missing?
Safety, anonymity and fun is really important . If you take care of this, you’re going to do well. Any respectable dating site gives you enough control to control pics, messages, blocking and filtering etc. I also think that people need more specialized advice.
You are involved with two Internet dating start-ups. Could you tell us about those?
The first one is TheComplete.me and I think it’s very unique and very exciting because it really talks about your social graph on Facebook. The other start-up I’m involved in is “Three Day Rule”. It’s a completely different approach although it shares that social aspect. It’s based in LA and focuses on high end events.
FAST COMPANY – Jan 26 – Author Dan Slater, who is writing a book about the online dating industry, attended the iDate Conference in Miami and took a look at the way technology is influencing the way we date online. Things are changing now that one third of America’s 90M singles date online, and it’s no longer the “unspeakable underworld” it once was. Seventeen years ago, when Gary Kremen founded Match.com, anonymity was key to success, protecting people’s privacy and allowing them to reveal their “true identity” on their own terms. In 2007, Zoosk was formed on the basis that the younger generation grew up on technology and the conventional online dating platform was of no interest to them. Zoosk “is for a social life – with dating in mind” where privacy concerns are not as rampant. New sites continue to pop up in the ever-changing industry challenge our notions of privacy and what we should expect going forward. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is right – morality may be divine, but it’s also fickle and shifts in technology make new things possible.