POF Shutters Speed Dating Company 'FastLife'

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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.

eVow Closes

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Almost 5 years ago Plenty of Fish Media launched eVow, and as of April 17 we were informed that the dating service appears to have been closed. The dating apps have been removed from iTunes and Google Play, and the website now redirects to POF.com. Plenty of Fish Media has not release an official statement about these changes but with the service now being completely inaccessible I think it is safe to assume that it has been shut down.

eVow was design to compete with dating sites that specialized in long-term relationships (like eHarmony). With the advertisement might of POF behind it in the beginning eVow quickly grew and was a popular choice for singles. Unfortunately after 5 years and intense completion in the dating sector eVow was not able to sustain itself without relying on the free advertising it received on the Plenty of Fish dating site. eVow must not have been making enough money through memberships and advertisements to justify the cost of taking up advertisement spots on POF (which other advertisers would pay money for).

I think one of the problems eVow ran into is that it also competed with their sister service POF.com. While POF doesn't cater to only long-term relationships, it does have the Chemistry Predictor matchmaking system which does attempt to match single together based on personality types to which is a key ingredient in long term relationships. A lot of members of POF looking for long-term relationships obviously didn't feel the need to move to eVow since POF was meeting their needs.

It's too bad eVow had to close down. The dating service had a lot of good ideas. Unfortunately the dating industry is intensely competitive and most dating services will not survive more than a few years.

POF and eVow Down for for the Morning of March 27, 2014

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It looks like yesterday morning Plenty of Fish and its sister site eVow was down for about 4 hours. POF.com went down sometime after 6am and was revived around 11:30am. Visitors at our forum and elsewhere on the internet reported receiving a "500 - Internal server error" when they visited the site. The dating app was also reported not working during this time period.

A 500 error code is a catch all error message that web servers reports when something has gone wrong and the server is not sure what it is. It is not a problem with the visitors browser or DNS but an issue with the web server where the web site is hosted.

POF has not reported why the outage has happened. From previous experiences we do not expect an answer.

The last major outage that spanned more than 2 hours in which we know of for Plenty of Fish was in Aug of 2010 (see Story). 2010 wasn't a very good year for POF.com in terms of uptime as they experienced 3 major outages.

Find Out How to Use eVow for Free!

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POF launched eVow back in September of 2010. Within a few months the dating site went paid. Members needed to buy a subscription to correspond with their matches and to use the advanced search features. eVow did well for a while especially when a link to the service was displayed on the Plenty of Fish website. Since then the site has seen traffic drop by about half according to Alexa. To counteract this it looks like eVow has developed a strategy which is their new dating app.

The eVow online dating app was released in October of 2012 on both Google Android and Apple iOS. The app currently has a 3.9 rating on Google Play with most of the reviews being positive and only a few minor tweaks/annoyances being mentioned. What is interesting is that the eVow app is completely free to use. You do not need a paid subscription. The eVow app doesn’t have all of the features of the website but it does have most of them. This includes sending and receiving messages, viewing your matches, and searching.

So those of you interested in using eVow I would recommend creating a membership on the dating site and then downloaded the app to message your matches. This way you can use the site for free and not pay the regular subscription fee that runs from $19.99 to $39.99 per month depending on the length of the subscription term. I am not sure how long they plan to keep the communication part of the app free so I would try it out as soon as possible.

Plenty of Fish Launches eVow

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Plenty of fish launched a new dating website called eVow early this September. It is a service which allows singles to find long term relationships only. Instead of focusing on providing matches like other dating sites which specialize in long term relationships and marriage, eVow plans to allow searching of their profiles. This is the main selling feature of the site at the moment.

In less than 7 days of operation, more than 100,000 people signed up to eVow (thanks to being advertised on POF). The site is currently free but there is a plan to make it a paid dating site soon. New features are also planned for the site which took just under 30 days to create (from when programming started).

You can expect a review of this new relationship site to be available soon.

For more on the story read the POF Blog and to find out further details on the largest free dating site in the world, read our Plenty of Fish review.