November 29, 2003
This article at CBS MarketWatch is interesting because it talks about the male/female ratio at several online dating sites. Online dating in general is said to attract more males than females. Match.com is said to have only 40% female members, but eHarmony has the opposite ratio with 60% female members. The emphasis on personality and the long questionaire at eHarmony seems to be more attractive to women than to men.
November 25, 2003
American IDC Corporation (Pink Sheets: ACNI) announces an agreement with Firefly Entertainment Media in which IDC will create matchmaking websites to coincide with five upcoming syndicated TV shows that revolve around dating.
Note that IDC trades on the Pink Sheets, which places it amongst the most bogus of publicly traded companies.
November 23, 2003
No article on online dating seems complete unless it talks about the "stigma" associated with it, and the New York Times Magazine piece is no exception:
Still, a fair number of people continue to feel a stigma about dating online, ranging from the waning belief that it's a dangerous refuge for the desperate and unsavory to the milder but still unappealing notion that it's a public bazaar for the sort of people who thrive on selling themselves. The shopping metaphor is apt; online dating involves browsing and choosing among a seemingly infinite array of possible mates. But those who see a transactional approach to coupling as something new and unseemly would do well to pick up a novel by Jane Austen, where characters are introduced alongside their incomes. There is nothing new about the idea of marriage as a business transaction.
Does online dating have a stigma? Because a stigma exists only as social perception, as long as people are talking about it then it exists, at least to a certain extent. The article seems to be saying that such a stigma shouldn't exist, because shopping metaphor is an apt comparison to traditions from earlier times and from other cultures, where marriage is more of an economic market and less of a random "dating game" where people walk into a bar and hope that they get lucky.
The most detailed article about online dating that I've ever seen appears in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine (see Love in the Time of No Time.)
Leslie Hill, 34, who works in human resources in Silicon Valley, estimates that she went on 100 online dates before meeting her second husband on Match.com.
I don't know why that particular sentence stood out, but for me it did.
The article tries to be philosophical about how online dating is changing society. Read the article quickly, New York Times articles only stay online for about two weeks.
November 21, 2003
Revenues were $9.27 million, an increase from $3.09 million in 3Q 2002. Lossses of $2.53 million for the quarter are attributed to heavy investment in market share.
The heavy losses make me wonder if anyone is really making any money in online dating, despite the large amounts of money being spent by subscribers.
November 20, 2003
Instant Messaging Planet reports that AOL will be launching a new online dating service, Love.com, that will rely heavily on AOL's AIM instant messaging system. Spring Street Networks and RealBranding are also taking part in the site's development. (See AOL Readies IM-based Dating Play.)
AOL's Love.com website has the following to say about the upcoming service:
New love.com online personals. It's the coolest way to quickly find a new friend, a hot romance, or the love of your life - and only love.com uses the power of AOL® Instant Messenger service to make it fun and spontaneous.
With AOL having an instant brand name, and huge resources with which to promote its new site, I suspect that Love.com will very quickly join the ranks of the top online dating sites. AOL will also benefit from having the AIM angle, helping to differentiate Love.com from the online dating competition.
November 19, 2003
Today's Wall Street Journal features one of the more informative articles about Online Dating that I've seen in a while (see SWF Seeks Attractive Head Shot - subscription required).
The snapshots in personal ads have traditionally been fuzzy and half-baked: Guys standing next to their cars. Or with their shirts off. And of course, the popular "ex crop," a photo featuring the forearm of a significant other who got mostly, but not entirely, cropped out.
I've noticed the exact same things myself! People are really bad photographers, and maybe also they have no clue as to which photo is good and which one is bad. With the increasing popularity of digital cameras, one would think that people would be able to get better photos of themselves for online dating purposes, but so far I haven't seen many.
The WSJ article also mentions the important rule to never appear in a photo with kids unless they're your own. (A lot of men, looking through ads, see a woman with a kid and assume that means it's hers. Women shouldn't have a kid in the photo unless they want men to think they are single moms.)
MatchNet PLC dating services including americansingles.com and jdate.com now let surfers search by "most popular." Not surprisingly, the profiles that pop up first are invariably the hotties, as opposed to people with the most amicably written profiles.
No surprise there. Luckily, when there's a demand for something, entrepreneurs will step up to the plate and attempt to fill it. The article talks about some companies that are trying to make money by offering portraits for online dating.
This will also mean that portrait photographers will have to break one of the traditional rules of the trade, which is to never let the customer have a negative. Increasingly, people will be getting a portrait taken for the sole purpose of acquiring an image file, the digital equivalent of the negative. I suspect this new arrangement will be a win-win situation for both photographers and clients.
In this somewhat humorous opinion article at The Scotsman, Just trust me, I've checked it with the experts, the author expresses some doubts that in five years, fifty percent of single people will meet their partners online.
I would rather throw myself head first into the miserable pit that is spinsterdom before internet dating again. What happens in the web pages of the damned is that you put a picture of yourself and a few details such as what you do, your favourite film, etc, and you wait to get e-mails from potential suitors.
The up-side is that you do get lots of offers. Sadly, these often come from people as desperate as yourself. Most you don’t even bother to reply to as they are from people old enough to be your grandfather or have listed Phil Collins as their all-time favourite artist. Sometimes they say things like: "My wife ran off and left me with five children to look after. Would this bother you?"
Then what happens is you get another e-mail from them a day later saying: "Why didn’t you reply? You just think you are too good for me, don’t you, don’t you?" To which you think this person must at least have some common sense because he has just hit the nail right on the head.
As you can tell, the author is a woman. It's interesting how men and women have vastly different complaints about online dating, but I suppose that's the subject of a future post.
November 17, 2003
MingleMatch, which manages and maintains 20 niche dating sites, announces a new color coded dating scheme.
the Color Code Relationship Profile is generated as participants answer a 45-question profile. Each profile places the individual in one of four core color groups -- red, white, yellow, or blue -- with the possibility of a secondary color of varying strength. With each primary and secondary color, an individual is given a detailed picture of what each color means. Knowing these personality traits, motivators, and idiosyncrasies creates a higher level of self-awareness and an understanding of how to relate to others.
It's too bad that the press release doesn't include any sort of scientific evidence regarding these color profiles.
November 15, 2003
Yes, it's the title of a real book, and there's an article in the Star Tribune about the book's co-authors (see Date with the future: Couple brings next wave of coupling to the masses).
Michael Lasky, 51, is a lawyer from Minnesota, and his "woman-friend" is Judith Sliverstein, 46, a dermatologist from Atlanta, met through an online dating service. They have become online dating "evangelists", and co-authored the book Online Dating for Dummies.
November 14, 2003
Emode, a matchmaking and social networking site purchased Ringo, another social networking site, and changed it's name to Tickle (see IDG News Service: Social networking site Emode tickles Ringo).
The article also offers some interesting commentary on the potential profitability (or lack thereof) of social networking sites:
Although social networking is an emerging and interesting phenomenon, it remains to be seen if it will evolve into a solid business model, analysts said. "I don't know that this is a market yet," said David Card, an analyst with Jupiter Research. At this stage, social networking is more of an online feature than a market around which a real business can be built, he said.
"Social networking is about a year old and it's very much in niche status, mostly that of younger people interested in connecting with others," said Charlene Li, a Forrester Research analyst. Yet providers of social networking services are attracting venture capital funding, mostly because these Web sites have found a new way to attract users, and thus have new opportunities to generate revenue, she said.
November 13, 2003
Bambi Francisco at AlwaysOn writes:
InterActiveCorp's ( IACI: news, chart, profile ) Match.com is one of the most popular sites online, but its ability to raise prices next year (should it care to) looks questionable even though online dating is the leading service consumers are willing to pay for.
The onset of the site called Friendster, a new so-called social-networking site that burst onto the Internet scene through word-of-mouth marketing and its unbeatable cost to the consumers -- zero, invariably caps Match.com's ability to charge. Someone recently pointed out to me that he saw the same people on Match that he saw on Friendster. So, why bother paying to get on Match?
Bambi overlooks the fact that eHarmony is currently charging $50, more than any other online dating service that I know of. People are willing to pay a premium for a premium service.
It is also doubtful that Friendster will stay free much longer. The company is supposedly worth $30 million, so they are going to have to start charging money soon to justify that.
But people get mad if they feel they are being ripped off. The recent angry reviews of JDate here at eDateReview.com demonstrate this. People are probably more willing to pay a premium price for a new service with slicker marketing than to suddenly pay more for the same old service. Given the large number of online dating sites out there, it's an unwise business move to alienate users the way JDate did.
Jay, one of the guys who was kicked off the show Average Joe, announces his new website. But the site is just a single page with an affiliate link to another dating site, so I don't think I'm going to give the guy a free link just because the beautiful Melana liked Zach better, and he paid money to publish a press release.
However, if he wants to submit a mutual link with eDateReview.com, he's welcome to fill out the form at the add site page just like everyone else.
November 11, 2003
The online dating service TrueBeginnings and Rapsheets Criminal Records announced a partnership in which Rapsheets will provide background checks for all users who sign up for TrueBeginnings.
"TRUEBeginnings understands the concerns and hesitations among singles looking for a relationship," said Martin Hanan, President, TRUEBeginnings. "Our partnership with Rapsheets was created specifically to address these issues and help to protect the safety of our members by ensuring that all members' interactions are secure."
November 10, 2003
MingleMatch, a company offering niche dating sites such as Black Singles Connection, Christian Mingle, Canadian Personals, and Single Parents Mingle, announced that third quarter revenues are up 365 percent over the same quarter last year.
A new online dating site, Verona Street, opened this week. Verona Street’s angle is that the service is more women-friendly than other online dating sites.
It is not commonly known that online dating websites typically have a 70% to 30% men-to-women ratio among its members. Things are different at Verona Street. By offering more women-friendly features, Verona Street aims to achieve a better balance between men and women.
November 09, 2003
DoubleSign.com, an online dating service specializing in astrological matchmaking, including both Western and Chinese astrology, is seeking an additional $10 million in equity financing and plans to go public by 2008. DoubleSign.com is currently privately funded by its founders.
According to the company's press release, Doublesign.com received more than 6 million hits in October 2003.
Walter King, DoubleSign.com's president, claims to believe that his service will reduce the number of divorces, pyschological breakups and even suicides resulting from incompatible personal and business relationships.
A Philadelphia news website, DailyLocal.com, features an article today about online dating, Using the Internet to look for a perfect match.
The article, like most in the popular media, is mostly favorable towards online dating:
Christine Gunsaullus, of West Chester, has been able to preview potential friends with the simplicity of clicking and reading. The service that once had a stigma attached has kept Gunsaullus' date book full.
So the good news for users of online dating services is that the "stigma" is no longer there. Of course there is the usual other side of the story included here as well:
"I don’t particularly trust the Internet enough to give my personal information regarding my relationship interests," said Aubrey Hays, a West Chester resident. "I think there's a lot more to know about a person than what you can read online. And it's kind of insensitive. You set yourself up with an anonymous person."
The article also contains this piece of information about the typical Match.com user:
The typical member for match.com is a 33-year-old, college-educated professional who lives in a metropolitan area, according to [Match.com's] Director of Dating Kathleen Roldan.
November 08, 2003
I came across a post about dating industry valuations at TJ's Weblog. TJ does an excellent and thorough job of detailing the valuations of most of the major players in the industry. The conclusion I get is that there is a valuation bubble in this sector, although TJ makes a case for why these companies could be worth a lot more in the future.
I suspect that there is not going to be as much money to be made in online dating as people think, and I will be posting these thoughts in a future post, so keep reading this blog.
In today's New York Times there's an op-ed article by David Brooks entitled Love, Internet Style.
In case you haven't heard of David Brooks, he's the author of "Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There", a book I've been meaning to read; one day I will have to purchase it from Amazon.
If you're dating in the Age of the Hook-Up, sex is this looming possibility from the first moment you meet a prospective partner. But couples who meet through online dating services tend to exchange e-mail for weeks or months. Then they'll progress to phone conversations for a few more weeks. Only then will there be a face-to-face meeting, almost always at some public place early in the evening, and the first date will often be tentative and Dutch.
I don't think people who meet on the internet actually spend months emailing and phoning before they meet in person. I had a friend from Phoenix who, about eight years ago, told me about all the sex he was getting from women he met on Yahoo! chatrooms.
David Brooks also writes:
Most of the sites have programs that link you up with people like yourself. One of the side effects of online dating is that it is bound to accelerate social stratification, as highly educated people become more efficient at finding and marrying one another.
I have to disagree with Brooks' conlusion here. Social stratification has already reached its peak, I don't think there can be any acceleration. Look at the wedding announcements in the New York Times and you'll see that the highly educated already are quite efficient at finding each other.
The highly educated normally hang out in their own circles and only meet other highly educated people. So online dating will have the opposite effect that David Brooks suggests. Online dating allows you to meet people whom you would never meet in your normal social circles.
November 07, 2003
The purpose of this blog is to provide a centralized place where readers can obtain information about what's new in the online dating industry. I will also post my own thoughts and analysis, and provide links to what other people are saying about online dating.
The next question I should address is "am I really an insider?" I programmed my own online dating site, and then I programmed this site, eDateReview.com, where people can read and post reviews of online dating services. So this makes me enough of an insider that I can legitmately claim the title. But the news on this blog will come from publicly available sources such as company press releases. I don't possess any inside information about what the big players in the industry are actually doing. Although I certainly hope to come across some insider information in the future.
The final question I will answer is "did I create eDateReview.com and the Online Dating Insider strictly for altruistic reasons?" And the answer to that is a big resounding no! eDateReview is supposed to make money by directing readers to the sites that they read reviews about. But I do believe that eDateReview has a much higher level of integrity than any other site designed for this purpose. The reviews can be written by anyone surfing the web, so they will gather real people's opinions about the quality of online dating services. At other sites that are portals for online dating services, the webmasters don't seem to make much of an effort to hide the fact that they have no goal besides making a fast buck for themselves.
I should also add that I enjoy writing and blogging, so it's natural that I should blog about what I know. Kind of like stock guru Peter Lynch's maxim to buy what you know. If there are people on the web who read this and think "that's a pretty useful and well written blog", then that makes me happy.