SYMPATICO.CA - Feb 14 - Markus Frind is CEO of POF.com. He launched the business in 2003 and has grown, what he calls his dating empire, into a site that draws 7M logins a day.
So tell us about the business. How do you make money in this?
We make money through advertising and we also have optional online subscriptions. With a couple of million people visiting our site a day it’s pretty easy to make money.
So a couple of million people a day; is it principally ads?
Mostly ads for now and also a bunch of revenue from memberships and optional upgrades people can buy.
So are the margins as high as I’ve been reading; 50%.
They’re usually above 50%. I mean this is a business where you don’t have that many costs, your biggest costs are hosting your server and employees.
How much do you make a year?
It’s in the $10’s of millions.
So what made you get into this?
Back in 2003 when I started the site it was the hardest thing I could think of doing, making a website that was dynamic and people could use to interact with others in some way. What happened was I released the site, which I built in about 2 weeks, and then all these people stared finding out about it and it was blowing up and making money so I was kinda swept into it.
Swept into it? So was it something you had planned on?
I definitely had not planned on this.
So the fact that this is a free site makes some people wonder if that affects, if I can put it this way, the clientele on the site. In online dating does price matter?
Our users spend on average $700million per year on paid dating services so virtually all the users that are on a paid online dating site are also on POF, there’s a massive overlap.
So what differentiates you from the others?
A typical online dater will go online and they will sign up for 3 dating sites and then they will end up using 1. There’s about 12% that will use 2. What differentiates POF is the fact that it’s free and it’s the largest free site. So if you want to meet the most people, the most singles POF is the place you go especially in Canada.
And what’s the success ratio for every 10 people who use your site how many get a date or rather a sustainable date if I can put it that way?
We track the relationship numbers and they are usually over 30%. The problem is POF is a site for everyone so there’s a lot of people that sign up and say ‘I just want a date I don’t want a relationship’ so they only stay in that section. Whereas people that sign up for long-term they are in the long-term section and want to find people looking for long-term relationships.
So about 30% in that category?
Overall on average the people who are looking for really long-term relationships its usually closer to 40-45%.
Is it true that most people lie about their age in online dating?
We really don’t see that much. If people do lie it’s in the low percentage. What happens is when a lot of our users come back to the site multiple times over the years we’re noticing they’re not changing their birthdates when they sign up for the 2nd/3rd account.
You talked earlier about making $10’s millions with this. Have you had any thoughts about taking it public as a publically traded stock?
As a sole shareholder it doesn’t make too much sense for me to go public. I mean I make more money as a sole shareholder than I would as a public company paying myself a salary and I wouldn’t be able to sell my shares all that easily.
I have to ask you; what are some of the nicest stories that have come out of this that you’ve seen?
We’ve have people emailing us in their wedding videos. There’s like 3 or 4 weddings a night in one place. It’s the most inspiring thing seeing around 60-70 thousand people emailing you in their wedding photos from people they’ve met off the site and this is all around the world.
Have you got a date for Valentine’s Day?
I’m married now so I definitely have a date.