UNLIMITED MAGAZINE - Mar 6 - In 1965 a group of Harvard students started Operation Match that used questionnaires to identify compatible matches. When the students sold it three years later they had received ~1M responses which resulted in a few marriages. Today North America’s dating sites attracts 22M users a month, says online dating industry analyst Mark Brooks. Online daters have upwards of 1,000 dating sites to choose from, aside from industry giants Match, eHarmony, OKCupid and PlentyofFish. "Starting a dating site is like starting a restaurant," Brooks says. "It’s very attractive but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye."
Brian Schechter and Aaron Schildkrout created HowAboutWe.com in 2009. The site is built around going on "awesome dates," with users able to see a list of date proposals in their immediate area. The company has raised ~$19M. Another site Sparkology is invite-only dating site. Other startups include Soul2Match, which links potential dates based on their photos and facial features, and Luv@FirstTweet, which uses Twitter to match singles. At TheJMom.com, matchmaking is left up to parents.
In a report in the Journal of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team looked closely and critically at the online dating industry. The researchers found that while online dating has great potential to improve meeting potential romantic partners, the exclusive matching formulas many online dating sites claim to have are unsubstantiated and likely little more effective than randomly approaching strangers at a bar. Sites and apps can facilitate face-to-face interactions quickly. Mark Brooks agrees. "I don’t think people want to come home and spend hours and hours tappity-tapping on the keyboard. They want to be in front of people," he says. "Computer-mediated communication is not gratifying enough for the human soul." Brooks thinks three trends will define the future of the industry: location-based services, mobile services and behavioral matchmaking. "Dating sites that do well will be serving their users’ interests, which means a little more immediacy, a little more help and going mobile," he says.
That instant face-to-face interaction is what MeetMoi, a location-based mobile dating company led by CEO Alex Harrington, has been facilitating since 2007. Users are matched with one another based on preferences and proximity, through application-based and mobile web-based dating.
by Cailynn Klingbeil
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