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Match.com Acquires OKCupid for $50 Million

OkCupid
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I was surprised today to find out that Match.com announced that they have acquired the free dating site OKCupid. The purchase price is $50 million plus potential future payments which depends upon performance in the coming year of the dating site. OKCupid makes most of its revenue through displaying online advertising. Their secondary revenue generating tool is a paid upgrade membership option. The CEO and co-founder of OkCupid, Sam Yagan will continue to run the business and oversee all day-to-day operations.

OKCupid membership base has seen a large increased over the last 18 months. Their members tend to be younger adults which is a market Match.com is looking to develop.

This time last year Match.com purchased Singlesnet.com for an undisclosed amount. (see Story) and in the summer, the year before, they had acquired People Media for $80 million (see Story). I wonder who they will buy next year? smile

For more on the story you can read the press release. To find out more about these two dating sites, please read our Match.com review and our OKCupid.com review.

Popular Dating Site PlentyOfFish Hacked

POF (Plenty of Fish)
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One of the world's largest free online dating sites, PlentyOfFish.com, has been hacked. The site released the following official statement:

On January 18th, after days of countless and unsuccessful attempts, a hacker gained access to Plentyoffish.com database. We are aware from our logs that 345 accounts were successfully exported. Hackers attempted to negotiate with Plentyoffish to "hire" them as a security team. If Plentyoffish failed to cooperate, hackers threatened to release hacked accounts to the press.

The breach was sealed in minutes and the Plentyoffish team had spent several days testing its systems to ensure no other vulnerabilities were found. Several security measures, including forced password reset, had been imposed. Plentyoffish is bringing on several security companies to perform an external security audit, and will take all measures necessary to make sure our users are safe.

In an extremely strange and rambling blog post, PlentyOfFish CEO Markus Frind tells his side of the story. He describes the event as an "an incredibly well planned and sophisticated attack," and says that the man responsible, a 23 year old hacker named Chris Russo who allegedly also hacked the popular torrent site The Pirate Bay, harassed his wife and blamed the security breach on "the Russians." According to the post, Frind's wife received a call from Russo saying that PlentyOfFish had been hacked, and that "Russians have taken over his computer and are trying to kill him, and his life is in extreme danger and they are currently downloading plentyoffish's database." Frind says that he was listening in the background, closed the security breach, and immediately ordered an investigation.

Frind goes on to say that Russo demanded that he fly to either Argentina or Washington, D.C. in order to stop "the attacks from the Russians," who supposedly had access to their bank accounts and were looking to steal $30 million from a string of dating sites. According to Frind, Russo also claimed that 5 or 6 other dating sites had been breached, and then gave Frind the administrative password for eHarmony.com to prove the validity of his claim.

Reactions to the hack have been strong. Dave Evans, an analyst who follows the online dating industry, told CTV News that Frind is "a self-made millionaire who's a total hardcore geek and has built most of the site himself." He continues to express disappointment, saying that Frind "hasn't spent evidently any time on securing passwords" and calling his actions "a lack of respect for your members."

In the same article, PlentyOfFish forum user fnord is quoted as saying "The site owner didn't think it was important to notify the users...but did find it important enough to go off on a crazed diatribe on his personal blog. Despite claiming to have plugged the security hole, Plenty of Fish is still sending out passwords in plain text, which is just this side of just posting them on the Internet for everyone to see." User QuasarDJ adds "I have grave concerns about the security of my personal information on the Plenty of Fish site and I've yet to see even the most simple updates to guard against these problems."

While the convoluted story has yet to be completely confirmed, it's clear that a hack of PlentyOfFish has occurred and that it's in the best interest of all members to change their username, email, and password combinations, particularly if they are also used on other sites.

For more information on this dating site you can read our review of PlentyofFish.

Lavalife: 30-Day Free Trial in February

Lavalife
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Here is some exciting news for singles interested in trying out an online dating site to find a partner.

To celebrate Saint Valentine's Day which is right around the corner, Lavalife will be giving a 30 day free trial to any new user who signs up within the month of February. This free trial gives you unlimited access to Lavalife and all the features they offer, and all without a credit card. This includes sending and receiving unlimited emails and instant message plus you can find out who has viewed your profile. This 30 day free trial is the same as purchasing a one month membership from them.

February is the busiest month in the year for dating sites. When you have a professional high quality dating site like Lavalife giving away 30 day memberships to new users you can expect this service to be VERY BUSY. If you are single, this is one service I would definitely try out.

There are several things that makes Lavalife stand out among the other dating services. One of the main things is they offer 3 dating communities within the site. So if you are searching for a simple date, long term relationship, or an intimate encounter you can join 1 or more of these communities in Lavalife and find singles looking for the same type of relationships.

To find out more about this online dating site, check out our Lavalife review.

Match.com Introduces DateSpark

General News
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Planning the perfect first date is hard. It's nearly impossible to choose the right place, the right time, the right ambiance...unless you're a current Match.com member, that is. Thanks to a new feature recently launched by the site, the perfect first date is only a few clicks away.

Match.com's DateSpark is an innovative approach to finding love online that takes the emphasis away from reading countless trite profiles and sending oodles of dead-end messages by helping users actually meet people with compatible interests in real life.

Using the new feature is as simple as proposing a date that you find interesting, like riding upside down on the Gravitron at the county fair or trying to order 1 of every cocktail on the menu of your favorite restaurant, and waiting for a response from members who are interested in the same activity. Match.com describes the new feature like this:

"DateSpark is a fun new way to meet people on Match.com. You suggest an interesting date idea, post it on your profile, and see what it sparks. If you see a DateSpark idea on another member's profile, you can tell them what you think. It's a great conversation starter with the added bonus of a natural first date, already planned!"

To suggest a date, click on the "DateSpark" link under Profile in the top navigation bar. Write a short description of your idea, select the appropriate options from three dropdown menus ("Type of date?" "When is it?" "What time of day?") and hit "Post this date." Once it's approved, your DateSpark idea will be added to your profile and other Match users can respond if it sparks their interest. Match.com wisely recommends being original, as creativity will draw more attention to your DateSpark proposal, and protecting your safety by keeping some information, like an exact location, date, and time, and personal details, private.

What I love most about this feature is that it reminds users that the reason they're on an online dating site in the first place is to go on dates. Instead of relying on the algorithms of the site to find members it thinks will be good matches, and hoping that love comes along, DateSpark allows users to personalize their search and encourages them to be proactive in the pursuit of potential partners. DateSpark focuses on the activity, rather than an often-uninformative profile, and gives Match members the encouragement they need to take their dating offline.

It's too soon to tell whether or not DateSpark will be a hit (it currently is available in only certain areas), but I'm excited to see how Match.com's newest development evolves.

To find out more about this online dating site, check out our review of Match.com.

eHarmony offers Free Communication for the month of February

eHarmony
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eHarmony's Free Guided Communication Event begins at 12:01AM on Friday, January 28th 2011 and ends at 11:59PM on Monday, February 28th 2011 (US only). This is the first time ever that eHarmony.com is having a free communication event that is a whole month long. Best yet, it is happening at the busiest time of year for online dating sites, during the month of February and Valentine’s Day. This ensures that many singles will be taking advantage of this promotion.

During this event no credit card is required to create a profile, receive matches and to use the guided communication process. This communication process has 3 stages that help you and your match to get to know each other better. eHarmony Mail, viewing of members profile pictures and Fasttracking the communication process are not included in this promotion.

This free guided communication event will be eHarmony's 33rd with the last one occurring at the end of December (see Story).

Update #1: flag_uk eHarmony.co.uk is also having a free communication event. It ends on February 15th, 2011.

For more information on this online matchmaking service, you can read our eHarmony review.

2010 Dating Sites Reviews Single's Choice Award

Awards
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2010 Dating Sites Reviews Single's Choice Award - Gold
Recipient of Gold
Match.com
2010 Dating Sites Reviews Single's Choice Award - Silver
Recipient of Silver
eHarmony
2010 Dating Sites Reviews Single's Choice Award - Bronze
Recipient of Bronze
Zoosk

We closed the 2010 Dating Sites Reviews Single's Choice Award poll earlier this month with a total of 798 votes from visitors. The poll really was popular this year and it received over 10 percent more votes than last year while being available only for 3 months when compared to 5 months in 2009. I had hoped to start the poll in August or September but it wasn't online until October. Next year the plan is to have all the awards finished up by the end of December instead of running into the new year like we have always done.

It's interesting to see how the results vary from year to year in the Single's Choice award as the dating sites compete to be number one with singles. This award is sort of like the "Best Director" award at the Oscars, it is the most important. The reason the Single's Choice award stands out is it is decided by the public with votes, and not us. With our Editor's Top Pick awards we try to make an unbiased selection but, when you talk dating sites everyday sometimes the decision may not be as clear as we would like.

For 2010 we listed the top ten dating sites for you to vote on. The three dating sites which received the most votes will get an award, Gold for first, Silver for second and Bronze for third.

The recipient of the Gold 2010 Single's Choice Award is Match.com. Not surprising, this is the fourth year in a row that this dating site has won the Gold Single's Choice Award. Match.com continues to lead in the dating industry and this year they received over 37 percent of the votes. This is a huge eight percent increase over last year which shows Match.com is gaining in popularity and continues to be the one to beat. Match.com was also the winner of the Editor's Top Pick - Overall award as well.

The recipient of the Silver 2010 Single's Choice Award is eHarmony. This is eHarmony's third year to win this award and their popularity remains about the same at 20 percent of total votes. eHarmony is designed for singles with long term relationships in mind so it is not for everyone. With them winning Silver it shows just how popular and effective they are especially since they do all of the matching for you.

The recipient of the Bronze 2010 Single's Choice Award is Zoosk. Zoosk is a relatively new dating service and it is the first time they have appeared in the DSR Choice awards. This is a great accomplishment for them to receive an award this year let alone a Single's Choice award which is decided by votes. Zoosk received 94 votes which is almost 12 percent of the total vote.

This year's standings for the Single's Choice award for all dating sites in the poll are (click the dating site name to read our full review):

  1. Match.com
  2. eHarmony
  3. Zoosk
  4. PerfectMatch.com
  5. Chemistry
  6. Lavalife
  7. Date.com
  8. FriendFinder.com
  9. SinglesNet.com
  10. True.com

Once again, we would like to give a big THANKS to everyone who cast a vote this year in the Single's Choice Award.