NOAH CONFERENCE - Nov 10 - CEOs of Parship, EliteSingles and The Meet Group were interviewed at the "Future of online dating" panel during the NOAH17 conference in London. They spoke about the past, present and future of online dating.
Parship – two brands - Parship & ElitePartner that operate in the matchmaking segment, €120M annual revenue (mobile revenue €35M), ~50% of registrations are via mobile, 100k babies
EliteSingles – renamed to Spark Networks, predicted 2018 revenue $122M, EBITDA $22M, 500K paying members
The Meet Group – 15M monthly active users, 4.5M daily active users (DAU), 190K new members every day, acquired Lovoo and Tagged; focus on live video streaming, 20% of DAU use live streaming every day.
Q: Are people on your platform looking for a relationship?
Geoff: Half of Meetme users would say dating, half would say friendship. On Lovoo, ¼ of users say they are looking for entertainment.
Tim: Serious relationship, people go through our questionnaire that takes 30-40 minutes.
Jeronimo: We have very similar product as Parship, our questionnaire also takes 30-40 minutes.
Q: What's your view on Bumble?
Geoff: It is a great success story. Tinder introduced double swipe to unlock the chat, Bumble amped it up with the female initiating the conversation after double swipe.
Tim: It helps them a lot to be part of Badoo.
Q: How much do you spend on TV ads?
Jeronimo: It is a double-digit million number. 2/3 of our marketing budget goes into offline media, 1/3 goes to online&digital.
Geoff: 70% of our revenue comes from advertising today, that was 85% before Lovoo. We believe live streaming is going to change that. People can send gifts to the streamers. The gifts could be purchased with our virtual currency.
Q: Do you see the younger demographic declining on your platforms because they don't watch TV with ads?
Tim: No, we have actually seen the biggest influx in the younger demographic (25+)
Jeronimo: We are shifting our advertising from TV to online. We are shifting to where our audience is. So I don't think shifting away from TV will impact our business.
Q: How global is your business?
Geoff: 80% is international.
Jeronimo: Half North America, half the rest of the world, mostly Europe.
Tim: We are mostly focused on the German-speaking market and we are very comfortable.
Q: What is going to happen in 5 years?
Tim: We will continue with consolidation.
Geoff: I think if you stand still, you'll die. The competition is big.
OPW INTERVIEW - Sep 8 - Geoff Cook is the CEO/co-founder of The Meet Group, which is a public dating-esque company that has morphed over the years. I remember talking with Geoff a few years ago in London and he was very enamored with the development of Momo. Their engagement was high, and they were doing interesting things with video. Fast-forward to 2017 and Momo's market cap has competed with and now exceeds Match Group's. So video seems to be working out very well for them with their tip-your-favorite-live-video-creators model.
The Meet Group (formerly Meetme) acquired Skout in 2016 and if(we) which operates Tagged, in 2017 and has been working to merge the platforms so members can interact between all three apps: Meetme, Skout and Tagged.
I spoke to Geoff Cook yesterday about the integration projects and he said it was going quite well. He had previously mentioned that Skout was on track for doing $7.5m in adjusted EBITDA in their first year and almost one year later, he said they're on track for that. They just launched live streaming video on Skout last week, using the same engine as Meetme. Now their intention is to add gifting in another month and then combine user-bases between Skout and Meetme.
Ultimately, this adds to the membership density, but Skout is more International. Skout is 80% international, whereas Meetme is 40%. What is common is that people on both platforms are looking to connect with new people, and not just for dating. That's a key distinction that really separates these platforms from the likes of Facebook and Match.
So what of Tagged? Geoff described Tagged as an African American app inside the USA. "That's what we found so attractive about it. It has similar features to Skout and gives The Meet Group the opportunity to create a live streaming app for African Americans. Video is now available to all of Tagged and is being well adopted and used."
By early next year, Geoff said they will have Tagged, Skout and Meetme on one video platform and they're working on adding some interesting new video features like the ability to add guest videos into a stream.
Just where does Meetme fit in the market now? Is it a social discovery service? Not so, said Geoff. Ultimately, the social discovery descriptor really faded out. He'd describe Meetme's services as belonging to "one big meeting category," which makes sense really. Facebook, Match and The Meet Group all seem to share a common cause in helping people meet. But the nuances of these services differ in that Facebook helps people stay in contact with people they already know, Match helps people within the context of wanting to meet a mate, and "Meetme and Tagged are the neighborhood bar, stated Geoff. "Video is the live entertainment at the bar."
"Meetme has always had a mission of helping users meet the universal need for human connection." Meetme's live streaming video is different from dating apps. Live streamers can ask and answer questions and receive gifts and the whole experience is more about "social entertainment." It's not really fundamentally about dating. "Meetme is the social graph of the people you want to know," stated Geoff.
Geoff described the distinction with Facebook further. Zuckerberg talks about connecting with communities and helping the world become less fragmented but Facebook doesn't want you to make a bunch of friends with people you don't know. That would just complicate the product and change the context too much.
The Meet Group will continue to be focused on live streaming. In fact, Geoff believes the entire live streaming video category to be fledgling. "Video has the potential to be as disruptive as mobile was to the web," Geoff believes. What do you think? Your comments, please.
(Full Disclosure: Mark Brooks owns shares of The Meet Group)
Previous interviews with Geoff Cook:
BUSINESSWIRE - Aug 16 - The Meet Group announces new live-streaming and gifting features on its mobile app, Tagged. Tagged Live allows users to broadcast and view live-streamed video and earn and send virtual gifts.
BUSINESSWIRE - Aug 3 - Total Q2 revenue was $31.3M, up 91% YOY, mobile revenue was $23.3M, up 55% YOY. The company has increased daily video minutes by 80% to 7.2M, with ~20% of its users watching videos every day. They expect to fully launch livestreaming video on Tagged and Skout by the end of this quarter. The Meet Group will also launch new banner and native advertising units within the video experience and gifting inside of video.
BLACK ENTERPRISE - July 31 - Black singles dating app Bae was recently acquired by Tagged, a social app with one of the largest African-American user bases. Tagged decided that the founders Brian and Justin Gerrard should be part of the deal in an acquisition that is known as an "acqui-hire."
Q: What made you initially decide to start Bae?
A: I started Bae because I made a decision that I wanted to build things that positively impact my community.
Q: How did Bae's "acqui-hire" happen with Tagged?
A: Bae and Tagged coming together was a convergence of complementary skill sets. They wanted our marketing and branding expertise to complement their technical acumen. Tagged grew to ~300M users without doing any marketing. My brother and I founded Tagged's marketing team and added ~1M new users. With The Meet Group acquiring us, we now have the ability to make sure everyone knows who we are and invest in expanding our brand.
BUSINESS WIRE - May 8 - Total revenue climbed up 51% YOY to $20M, mobile revenue is $18.8M, up 61% YOY. Net income is $0.4M. "We made strong progress toward rolling out livestreaming video inside of the MeetMe app. Currently, three out of four MeetMe users have access to the Live feature within the MeetMe app", said CEO Geoff Cook.
BUSINESSWIRE - Apr 4 - MeetMe has completed its acquisition of if(we), a social and mobile technology company, and changed its name to The Meet Group. The if(we) acquisition is expected to contribute $9M of adjusted EBITDA in the first 12 months post-close and to provide the combined company with a path forward for generating $150M in annualized revenue and $50M of adjusted EBITDA. Moving forward, The Meet Group will be the parent company of the MeetMe, Skout, Tagged, and Hi5 brands.
BUSINESSWIRE - Mar 7 - Total revenue was $76.1M, up 34% YOY. Mobile revenue was $70.7M, up 56% YOY. Net income was $18.2M, up 204% YOY. The addition of if(we)'s Tagged and hi5 brands into MeetMe portfolio is expected to increase their monthly active users to ~10M.
TECH CRUNCH - Mar 7 - The deal is worth $60M in cash, partially funded by a $30M loan from JP Morgan. Tagged and Hi5 will both remain their own distinct brands. If(we) reported $44M revenue in 2016, with 56% coming from mobile and claimed to have 5.4M MAU, with 18k new users coming every day. The company managed to raise $28.7M. After the merger, the combined company will have 10.6M MAU and nearly 1.1M DAU. MeetMe expects If(we) to add $9M to its earnings over the next 12 months.
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
FAST COMPANY - Jan 5 - Bae, the dating app for African-American millennials, was just acquired by if(we), the parent company of Tagged. The Bae name is being retired and its users will be streamlined into Tagged and its global dating pool. Bae was cofounded in 2013 by tech-savvy brothers Brian and Justin Gerrard, and friend Jordan Kunzika. Bae (Before Anyone Else) received 17K downloads in its first month. Brian and Justin will move to San Francisco to lead marketing and growth across if(we)'s entire portfolio, which includes Tagged, Hi5, Fandom, and new social streaming site WeChill.
by Lindsay Goldwert
See full article at Fast Company
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.
TECH CRUNCH - Dec 2 - Greg Tseng is stepping down from the CEO role after 11 years running its dating social network Tagged and game studio hi5. He'll remain a board member. The company's new CEO will be its COO Dash Gopinath, who was formerly the Chief Product Officer of Tagged competitor Badoo. Tagged still have a team of ~100 people and 2015 will be its 8th consecutive profitable year. The company raised $12M.
TECH CRUNCH - Jan 22 - Tagged, the people discovery service with 300M registrations and 3M daily users, is stepping into offline meetups by launching standalone app Sidewalk that feeds you fun happenings in your city, as well as who you might run into where you’re hanging out. Building Sidewalk as a standalone app rather than as a feature of Tagged also protects the company. The idea is that you’ll open Sidewalk, discover something fun going on nearby, get off your butt and go there, and meet people. There are no gimmicks, forced ice breakers, or private messaging. Sidewalk also has less anonymity. The app is simply a portal to connection around real-life moments.
This post also appears on SocialNetworkingWatch.
OPW - Nov 3 - Irena and I were in Dubai for a few days so we thought we'd see which dating sites were blocked and which made it past government filtering. Specifically any 'Internet Content that contradicts the ethics and morals of the UAE including Nudity and Dating' get blocked. iDating doesn't fit the religion and culture of UAE. Matrimonials sites, on the other hand, are ok.
Match, Plentyoffish and OKCupid were blocked. I thought World Singles Arablounge.com might make the cut, but no. It was blocked. China dating sites Zhenai, Baihe and Jiayuan were all blocked as well. We got through to Facebook and thought we'd have more luck with people discovery services. Badoo was blocked but Tagged and Meetme were ok. Matrimonials sites made the cut. Shaadi, Bharat Matrimony and Jeevansathi were all available in Dubai. We were especially pleased that Online Personals Watch and Social Networking Watch were available as well. Of course, as soon as I fired up my VPN I could get to everything. Dubai Internet City also enjoys open access and alternative ISP Du is more lenient than Etisalat. [Full Disclosure: POF and Meetme are clients of Courtland Brooks]
TECH CRUNCH - Aug 22 - Tagged, a social network for meeting new people, has raised $15M in growth capital financing from Lighthouse Capital Partners and Comerica Bank. The company previously raised $9M in funding. Tagged was on an acquisition tear in 2011, buying hi5, Digsby, TopicMarks and WeGame. Tagged's revenue grew by 35% to~ $43M in 2011.
This post also appears on SocialNetworkingWatch.