Dating Execs Respond To The Threat Of Competition From Facebook

Industry
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At Facebook's annual developer conference F8, founder Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement that spread like an especially voracious wildfire across the web: Facebook is entering the dating game.

The news sparked immediate reactions from key players in the market.

Despite recently ditching the Facebook login requirement for its app, Bumble took a diplomatic approach. A spokesperson described the company as “thrilled”, telling CNNMoney “Our executive team has already reached out to Facebook to explore ways to collaborate. Perhaps Bumble and Facebook can join forces to make the connecting space even more safe and empowering.”

Other major dating players took a less enthusiastic path.

Joey Levin, chief executive at IAC, extended a snide invitation to the industry that referenced Facebook’s recent scandals. "Come on in," he told Axios. "The water's warm. Their product could be great for US/Russia relationships."

Levin also released a letter assuring shareholders that IAC is well-positioned to compete with Facebook in the dating arena.

"We respect the power of Facebook's network – as consumers and partners we have been great beneficiaries of their mission to connect the world," he wrote. "However, on the long list of things we worry about in our dating business, [Facebook] doesn't top the list."

"We have a 23-year head start and several months advanced warning, and we're going to take advantage of all of it," he added.

Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg released a statement saying she was surprised at the timing of the announcement given the controversy surrounding Facebook’s misuse of personal and sensitive data.

"We understand this category better than anyone,” she wrote. “Facebook’s entry will only be invigorating to all of us."

Didier Rappaport, CEO of Happn, said the announcement was just "trying to distract" from the recent data scandal, while Ashley Madison CTO Ruben Buell called it an attempt by Facebook to build another ad platform and sell personal information to advertisers.

Tinder CEO Elie Seidman echoed the comments of other dating executives during an interview with Yahoo finance. “They have an interesting set of baggage,” he said, and are “in a very competitive space.”

Seidman also said, “Facebook has lots of things to think about. We have the benefit of thinking about one thing, all day every day. He concluded by saying he is “convinced” Tinder can “rise to the occasion” and take on its newest rival.

Even traditional matchmakers insist they feel no threat from Facebook.

"There really is a magic meeting face to face and that's why businesses like mine have survived even with the growth of the Internet," Michael Karlan, president of Professionals in the City LLC, told The Street.

A congested market of dating services stands to boost upscale matchmaking businesses because people will "want personal service even if it costs more," argued Michelle Jacoby, a matchmaker in the Washington D.C. area.

The dating industry’s message to Facebook is loud and clear: we won’t go down without a fight.