TINDERTALES - Nov 2 - In this episode "So You Want to Date During a Pandemic", Mark and David talk about what makes a profile stand out, early online dating and how dating has evolved during a pandemic.
David: How did you get into the business of online dating?
Mark: I started a social and adventure club in Silicon Valley in 1996. When it got to 3,600 members, people started meeting and marrying which wasn't really the intention and I thought: "this is kind of nice, this is a lot of impact." So then I worked with Hyper Match in 2000. It was like an early eharmony. Members had to answer 200 - 2k questions. And then in 2002 I worked with Friendster where I ran parties called Friendster Exposed. But the code wasn't quite up to the level of scale they were getting to. And then Myspace came along and they got it right. So I went over to the dating side of the house. I worked with FriendFinder and OkCupid and then I got three job offers. So I took all three and started Courtland Brooks, which is my consultancy.
David: What were the first mobile dating services?
Mark: Webdate was way ahead of everybody. Then there was Lavalife that did SMS, Match had a WAP app. Back then, it was tough to get on deck, so you had to talk to Verizon and Sprint and negotiate a deal for distribution. People are complaining about paying out 30% to Apple right now. I think it's actually a very fair deal if you look back at what it used to be. Verizon, Sprint, and etc were taking 70%.
Mark: What's your favorite app?
David: Honestly, I like Tinder a lot. As long as you know how to advertise yourself properly, you can have relatively good success there. Hinge is doing a really good job at attracting the market that it wants to attract.
Mark: There's a saying that guys will lie about wanting a long term relationship, and women will lie about wanting a short term one. It's funny how some societies are really put offish when it comes to having intercourse and it's like they're missing out on a vital form of communication before commitment.
David: How so?
Mark: I think you get to know someone when you have intercourse with them. That's the ultimate form of communication between two people. I've studied behavioral science and I think people tell you everything if you only observe.
David: Let's talk about dating and corona. What's new?
Mark: Business has been good for Internet dating companies right now. They're ~20, 30% up, which is amazing. But the users' behavior changed. There's an interesting study that RealMe just did. RealMe found that 67% of online daters are less okay with being single right now. And apparently two in three online daters have lowered their standards. A lot of dating apps have moved towards video and a lot of people kind of warm up to one-on-one video dating. And there's one to many videos taking off.
David: What is that?
Mark: It started in China with an app called Momo. Then in the U.S. there is The Meet Group. They're actually doing these games now. So someone who isn't really comfortable with video can go in and have a look at someone else dating. People can warm up to the concept.
Mark: And there's also a safety aspect as well. People tend to approach Internet dating with rose colored glasses. In fact, there's something called halo effect. And the guy who told me about this is Dan Ariely some years ago. He said, one of the things that happens is when someone goes into a dating app and they see someone that has some attributes that are close to what they're looking for, then they'll tend to fill in the blanks.
Mark: RealMe are doing background checks and they're doing it in a very different, interesting way. They're showing a trust scale, rather just saying, "Hey, this person's a felon."
David: What do you think actually goes into a really good profile?
Mark: The mistake that a lot of people fall into is generics. They don't make themselves stand out.
David: Yes, standing out is huge.
Mark: We load people up with lots of choice, which is good and bad, because there's the paradox of choice. We're in some ways a rotten business because if we do a really good job, we wave goodbye to our users. So we want to do a good enough job that people rave about us, but we don't want to wave goodbye to our users.