517,000 relationships. 92,000 marriages. 1 million babies. Those impressive stats come from Karl Gregory, Match.com's UK manager and European director. “We've been responsible for all of those,” he says, understandably proud. “Isn't it incredible?”
It is incredible, and not just because of all the zeroes on those numbers. Match.com is also the most popular dating website in the world and, on top of that, it's one of the oldest. This year it's celebrating its 20th birthday.
When Match launched in April 1995, it had only 100,000 users worldwide. Today, that number is 75 million users (registered since inception) spread across 40 countries. It all goes back to December 27, 1992 when, dissatisfied with traditional dating methods, entrepreneur Eric Klien created a 170-point questionnaire to game the system. The questionnaire covered everything from horoscopes, to music tastes, to cleanliness. He dubbed it the “Electronic Matchmaker” and uploaded it to his private internet database. Online dating was born.
In 1993 Klien sold his questionnaire and the domain name Match.com. The buyer was Gary Kremen, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who paid $2,500 for it and launched Match as a dating service on the open internet in 1995. “Match.com will bring more love to the planet than anything since Jesus Christ,” he said during an interview.
He may have been right. Though stigma was high in the early days of online dating, 100,000 people registered with Match.com within 6 months of its launch. The next time it was sold (in 1998 to its current owner, IAC), it was for $50 million. Not bad for just a few years of growth.
Klien's original questionnaire is still part of the service, though it's evolved over the years. Now it's known as “Synapse,” the official Match.com algorithm. It evaluates both a user's stated preferences and their actions on the site, offering 6 tailored profiles for review each day. There is some debate about whether dating algorithms have any scientific credibility, but those big numbers at the top mean Match must be doing something right.
These days, Match.com's biggest user-group is aged 25-44 with its fastest growing demographic being the over-55s. There are more men than women on the site, but only slightly. Amongst men, the most common professions are engineering, finance and retail. Amongst women, it's secretaries, teachers and doctors. All sexualities are represented, as are all kinds of relationships. There are people looking for flings, for friendships, and for life-long partners. All these users do a lot of communicating, they send out over 415 million emails a year on Match.com.
Marriages that begin online are 25% more likely to last than marriages that begin in more traditional ways, said a University of Chicago study, so here's to 20 more years of magic from Match.com. To find out more about this service, please read our review of Match.com