NY TIMES - Dec 24 - JDate was created in 1997; ChristianMingle was added in 2001. Spark Networks, the parent company, eventually grew to ~30 dating sites, but the crown jewel has always been JDate. Since 2011, Spark Networks has been led by a rotating array of chief executives — four over five years. According to Spark Networks' 2015 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the number of paid subscribers to its Jewish networks declined to ~65k last year from 85k in 2012. Its total for all networks dropped by ~55k people, to under 204k. Some of the decline could reflect Spark's management turnover, but it is also indicative of the challenges facing the online dating industry. "It's never been cheaper to start a dating site and never been more expensive to grow one," said Mark Brooks, a consultant for the Internet dating industry who also runs Online Personals Watch. Part of the problem, he said, is that 70% of Internet dating in the US is now on mobile. "It used to be 10% of those who registered converted to paid," Mr. Brooks said. "Now it's more like 2 to 3%." Some also see a move toward ever more niche sites like MouseMingle.com (Disney lovers) and GlutenFreeSingles.com. Spark Networks already offers niche products, but Lisa McLafferty, Spark's new chief revenue officer, says its aim is now to "refresh the brand."
by Alina Tugend
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Summarized by the Courtland Brooks team