BUSINESS INSIDER - Aug 9 - Match Group is targeting Japanese singles looking to get hitched with a marriage-concierge app. The company is launching Pairs Engage, a "more efficient and less expensive service geared to those who are highly motivated and want to get married within a year," CEO Mandy Ginsberg said. The app suggests 30 potential husbands or wives a month, and includes a 24/7 concierge service. Japan's $0.5B arranged-marriage industry revolves around physical stores that employ lots of salespeople and service staff, meaning they're expensive to run and pricey for consumers, Ginsberg said. Pairs Engage costs 9,800 yen ($92) per month, plus another 9,800 yen as a sign-up fee once the pre-registration period ends. After downloading the app, users must submit a raft of documents including proof of their identity, income, and single status, as well as education and national qualifications for graduates and some professionals.
OPW - Apr 18 - Want to get your head around Asia? There's a couple conferences we'd like to put on your radar. But best book soon, as they're coming up fast. They're in Singapore at the amazing Marina Sands Hotel. I'm speaking at both of them.
The 1st is the GDI Singapore Dating Conference on May 13-14th, and is 250 GBP. Leaders from Paktor, Pairs, The Meet Group, Matrimony and Spark Networks will be speaking.
The 2nd is the Global Love Conference on May 15-16th, is $295, and will be more matchmaking focused. Leaders from Viola.ai / Lunch Actually, 2 Red Beans, Paktor, and the Matchmaking Institute will be speaking. (Here's a feel good $50 discount code 50OFFSG)
I hope to see you there. - Mark Brooks
METROPOLIS JAPAN - Aug 27 - While Tinder is still one of the most used dating apps in Japan (ranking 3rd in popularity), it doesn't address different cultural dating nuances. As an effect, it's generally used casually and without care. Dating in Japan is full of intricacies and unspoken rules that are difficult for a foreigner to wrap their head around. One of Japan's highest ranking apps, Pairs, reflects Japanese dating customs. Developed by Japanese startup Eureka, the app aims to slow the process down, contrary to Western apps. They encourage users to take their time and make informed decisions about potential dates. When creating a profile on Pairs, users are expected to answer a bombardment of what may seem like invasive questions, but are considered key factors in matchmaking in Japan - including their blood type or income.
THE MOTLEY FOOL - July 24 - The latest service to join Match is Hinge, a site that once billed itself as the "anti-Tinder" because it focuses on relationships instead of hookups. The purchase leaves Bumble as the only major dating app not owned by Match, and the two are currently suing each other. Match has acquired dozens of services over the past nine years and in the past three years spent $610M acquiring different brands, about equal to its cumulative operating earnings for the same period. While none of the deals have seemed to have gone like a bad date, the rise in Match's cost of revenues has outpaced its revenue increases due to acquisitions like POF and Pairs. Last year, revenue from North America, which contributes 56% of Match's total, grew 9% as a result of more people signing up for Tinder. Yet North America ARPU was flat. The deal for Hinge gives Match a 51% stake with the right to purchase the rest of Hinge within the next year. Though Hinge doesn't disclose the number of users it has, undoubtedly individuals using dating apps have accounts at multiple sites, so Match is paying for members it likely already owns. Match's total subscribers hit 7.43M in the Q1, up 26% YOY, and some of them have to be Hinge members, too. Making another acquisition might put another dating app into Match's diverse collection, but it doesn't really do anything to bolster what is making money for it, namely Tinder.
BUSINESS INSIDER - Mar 6 - The online dating market continues to grow in Japan as well. The market size was ~ 25.6B yen in 2017 (~ 200M Eur), and according to forecasts, it should grow 37.4B yen (~290M Eur) in 2018, or by 46% according to Business Insider Japan. However, Tinder is not the largest dating app on the Japanese market. It is Pairs, a Facebook-based dating app that is also owned by Match Group.
THE JAPAN TIMES - Feb 14 - According to Hirokazu Nakamura, chief product officer and chief marketing officer of Tokyo-based startup Eureka, young people are not losing interest in love. "They have been placed in a situation where finding love is too difficult. They just have too many things that they want to prioritize," said Nakamura. Eureka, owned by Match Group, developed dating app Pairs that claims 7M registered users with 4K relationships being made every month. 80% of its users are 20-30 years old. But there is still a negative image in Japan about meeting someone online, as some shady deai-kei online dating services have been hotbeds for child prostitution and other crimes. But young people seem to be less hesitant in pursuing a relationship online as more well-known companies are entering the dating app market, such as matchmaking service Tapple Tanjo or e-commerce giant Rakuten which operates Rakuten O-net, a service designed for people who are serious. The dating app market in Japan is expected to more than double to ¥57.7B ($542M) by 2022 from ¥20.8B ($195M) in 2017, according to MatchingAgent.
SEEKING ALPHA - Dec 7 - Match Group is known to favor acquisitions to counter competition. Since January 2009, it has invested ~$1.3B to acquire 25 brands for its dating portfolio. Match Group went public a year ago and is worth ~$4B. Currently, its portfolio consists of 45 brands. Analysts are concerned over its dependence on Tinder. In Q3 2016 Match Group dating revenues jumped 22% to $287.5M, driven by strong contribution from Tinder, Pairs and PlentyOfFish. Average paid member count grew 33% to 5.5M, with strong contribution from Tinder, Meetic and PlentyOfFish. Average revenue per paying user declined 8% to $0.54 primarily due to the comparatively low revenue rates for Tinder and PlentyOfFish. Match Group expects revenue growth of 15% to 20% next year.
THE BRIDGE - May 27 - Since its launch in 2008, Tokyo-based startup Eureka has developed Pairs and Couples, mobile apps for dating and couples. The company has been wholly acquired by The Match Group. Details of the acquisition price has not been disclosed. Pairs is a Facebook-based dating and marriage hunting app launched in 2012 and has acquired ~1.5M users in Japan and 800K users in Taiwan to date. Couples is a memory-sharing and messaging app for couples, and has acquired ~2.2M users.
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
FAST COMPANY - Sep 17 - Japanese birthrate is among the lowest on earth, and the number of marriages is in decline. Many Japanese people don’t seem like dating sites. Some of the biggest ones position themselves as more social than romantic. Nikukai, meaning "Meat Meeting,” is an app designed to get groups of men and women together for Korean barbecue. Another app, Furendo Tossu is a site for meeting new people with common interests. Pairs, a dating app linked to Facebook that, along with MatchAlarm, NikuKai, and Yahoo Omiai, is one of the country’s most popular. Online dating in Japan has a shady history. People preferred anonymity, opting for cartoon avatars instead of photographs. On Pairs, photos regularly crop out distinguishing features, or instead show a favorite pet, stuffed animal, or an original drawing, expressing the user's taste. Another reason online dating has a seedy rep is baishun, meaning "to sell spring," with “spring” referring to youth or virginity. Baishun is the practice of Japanese teenage girls selling sex to older men online.
Mark Brooks: Marc Lesnick will run an Internet Dating Conference in China next year that will focus on mobile dating, along with advances and innovations in the Far East markets.