POF Shutters Speed Dating Company 'FastLife'

POF (Plenty of Fish)
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After two years together, POF has ended its relationship with speed dating and singles event company FastLife.

POF CEO Marcus Frind saw a bright future for the union in 2013. "The direction of online dating is undeniably headed towards a merging of the online and offline worlds,” he said. “Currently our users host over 300 events worldwide each month. Now more than ever, we understand the importance of offering singles innovative, new ways of connecting face to face."

The plan was for POF to invest $30 million into live events over a period of 12 months. Competition in the arena was ramping up. Mega-companies like Match had introduced live events. Services like HowAboutWe were focused on getting online daters off their computers and into the real world. Location-based apps that linked nearby singles for insta-dates were becoming increasingly popular.

The time seemed right for POF to team up with FastLife, a company that held around 2,400 events a year in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. FastLife's exceptional service and venues generated annual revenue of ~$2.5 million. Could rounding out its offerings be what POF needed to take things to the next level?

The answer turned out to be 'no.' POF dropped FastLife in June 2015, 21 months after acquiring the company and 2 months after closing eVow. eVow had been launched to compete with dating sites focused on long-term relationships, but proved unsustainable after 5 years.

Now that POF has lightened its load, what's next for the dating site?

Like many of its competitors, POF is focused strongly on mobile. Frind told an interviewer at the 2015 Traction Conference in Vancouver that 90% of POF's business is now conducted on smartphones. POF is concentrating on keeping its brand strong, so mobile users will continue to choose it over other options in the app store.

POF is also concentrating on maximizing messaging. The more messages a user sends, the more likely they are to get a response. The more responses they get, the more likely they are to go on dates. The more dates they go on, the more likely they are to enter a relationship and have a successful online dating experience. Currently, around 30 million messages are sent each day on POF.

As far as revenue is concerned, POF has opted for a “freemium” model. Rather than a traditional subscription service, POF offers its basic features for free. Users can then choose to upgrade or add features for additional fees. With more than 100 million users and a rumoured $100+ million in annual revenue, it's hard to argue with the POF approach.