Growth Industry Or Past Its Prime? A Two-Year Review Of Online Dating’s Hirings And Firings

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It wasn’t long ago that dating services were seen as the last refuge of the lovelorn and desperate. Today online dating hasn’t merely shed its stigma, it’s a bona fide phenomenon and business appears to be booming.

According to a report from IBISWorld, annual revenue in the online dating industry has surpassed $3 billion. Dating services employed over 9,000 people worldwide in 2017 and have collectively seen an annual growth rate of +5.3% over the past five years.

Yet hardly a week goes by without someone publishing an article condemning digital dating for butchering our ability to have real relationships, and even major players like Match Group have fallen short of analysts’ expectations.

Is online dating a corporate success story or a bubble that’s poised to burst? In attempt to uncover the answer, Mark Brooks, founder of the Internet Dating Excellence Association, conducted an analysis of the industry’s hirings and firings over the last two years. Brooks used LinkedIn to assess online dating’s current winners, losers, and stable players.

Unsurprisingly, Tinder found itself at the top of the podium. The company currently stands at 320 employees with 8% employee growth over the last six months and a whopping 116% growth over the last two years. Plenty of Fish is a success story on a smaller scale, up 15% over the same period with 94 employees at present.

In the stable category are Match, Zoosk, Badoo, and OkCupid. San Francisco-based Zoosk showed just 1% employee growth over two years, remaining largely balanced around the 170 mark. OkCupid underwent few changes during the period, having found a comfortable point at just 65 employees. Badoo is now stable at 560 employees following a growth spurt in all departments, and Match showed no growth over the last two years with 598 employees.

eHarmony lands in a mixed position. The company has leveled off at 239 employees in the last six months, but overall is down 27% over the last two years.

FriendFinder has a sadder story to tell. The flagship dating service of Friend Finder Networks is down 7% to 154 people. Most departments, including engineering, finance, operations, and IT, lost employees over the two-year period.

The award for biggest loser goes to a different kind of provider - not a dating site itself, but the company behind a SaaS platform that empowers others to create their own fully branded dating services. Venntro Media Group, which runs White Label Dating, showed a devastating 43% decline to 66 people. Every department felt the loss, though sales was hit hardest with a 75% personnel decrease. The downturn may be connected to the departure of Barry Frost, the company’s CTO of 10 years.

For more information, including visualizations of the data, visit the IDEA blog.