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Gay Dating App Hornet Raises $8 Million In Series A Funding

  • Monday, January 16 2017 @ 07:16 am
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Hornet Dating Service

Hornet, a dating app that touts itself as “the world’s second largest gay social network,” has announced that it has raised $8 million in its first round of institutional financing. The Series A round adds to a $500,000 angel round raised in 2012.

Founded in San Francisco in 2011, Hornet set out to strengthen the gay community by providing quality social interactions and being the most inclusive, diverse service in the LGBT dating market. CEO Christof Wittig has previously said the company aims to “jump in where Grindr dropped the ball” by focusing on lasting connections rather than quick flings.

POF and Lavalife Founders Discuss their Former Rivalry and the Online Dating Industry

  • Friday, March 25 2016 @ 10:01 am
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Markus Frind on Disruptors

Last month on the Canadian TV show The Disruptors, an unlikely interview took place between host Bruce Croxton and Markus Frind, the founder of popular online dating site Plenty of Fish. (Broxton was the founder of dating site Lavalife, which raked in members until POF’s free service hit the market.)

For the first time, the two former rivals were sitting down together to discuss the current state of the dating industry, and the history of their two companies.

Broxton noted the quick success of POF, which because of its free service, quickly gained a lot of users – many of whom hadn’t tried online dating previously. Typically, dating sites made their money through selling subscriptions to members, but POF tried a different model to attract a larger audience, and it worked. Instead of selling subscriptions, the site made its money by selling ad space. After all, they had an engaged audience.

At its peak and before its sale in 2004, Lavalife had over four hundred employees. Frind launched POF in 2003 and operated the service alone from his apartment for the first five years, without hiring another employee despite the service’s rapid growth. He managed to turn it into the largest dating site in the world by focusing on the US market (even though he was based in Canada), and by keeping the service free despite the naysayers.

Frind’s experience wasn’t in the dating industry when he first thought of the idea for POF. In the interview, he admitted that he just needed to learn a new programming language and the best way to do that would be through creating a dating website.

Croxton was complimentary in the interview, admitting that Frind was incredibly innovative in the dating space, despite the endless number of dating apps launched in the last few years claiming to change the online dating industry. “I find it ironic because many of the tech ideas on the show really emphasize that it’s not about the technology anymore because you can be up and running very quickly, it’s really a marketing barrier to entry. But you were pioneering that back in 2003,” Croxon said.

Frind Agreed, noting that he sold his company (for $800 million) because he was tired: “There isn’t really much innovation in the dating space; the features we have today are the same features we had five years ago. It just got kind of boring and I wanted to do something new.”

You can watch the whole interview here. To find out more about POF you can read our review on Plenty of Fish.

Online Dating Sites Still More Popular than Tinder

  • Friday, May 22 2015 @ 06:35 am
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Are you on Tinder? Chances are, you’re also a member of a traditional online dating site – and many of you are paying for the service. According to a recent survey by Global Web Index, 70% of Tinder users also use an online dating site – and the majority are accessing all dating sites through their phones (58%).

Tinder has changed the online dating market in a big way – more people are participating, simply because Tinder has helped online dating lose its stigma by providing a low-intensity, game-like experience. It’s much easier to swipe left and right according to potential matches' looks, and have Facebook and Instagram photos populate your profile without having to do much. It takes the pressure off of the whole experience, plus it’s free unless you upgrade to Tinder Plus.

However, many people who use Tinder want to add to their online dating experience, and therefore join paid sites like Match.com along with other online dating sites, paid or free (although most free online dating services are moving to a tiered premium service model to create more revenue).

Global Web Index found some interesting statistics in their study – including the fact that 31% of those surveyed used an online dating site in the last month, but only 1% used Tinder. Six percent used a location-based dating app, which means people are looking for other alternatives to Tinder, even in the dating app market.

Obtaining revenue from Tinder Plus could be an obstacle for the company. According to Global Web Index, only 14% of online dating site users as a whole pay for a service, while 24% of Tinder users pay for an online dating site (which makes it seem likely they wouldn't also pay for Tinder). And more than a third of dating app users say they use ad-blocking software, which means premium services like Tinder Plus have to come up with compelling features to attract paying clients, in addition to promising an ad-free experience. Perhaps this is why the company is placing limits on its free service, restricting the number of profiles a user can look at each day – to get people to invest in the paid service.

One last interesting statistic from the study: men outnumber women on Tinder 6 to 4, so ladies are definitely at an advantage using the app. However, although half of Tinder users are single, a substantial amount (30%) are married, and another 12% consider themselves in a relationship – even though they are on Tinder.

So if you decide to use Tinder, it’s a safe bet that your online dating experience will be enhanced if you decide to invest in another service as well.

 

New Dating App Glimpse Hooks You Up Through Instagram

  • Wednesday, March 25 2015 @ 06:54 am
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Glimpse

The most successful dating apps are based on visuals, and typically pull your photos from Facebook to create your dating “profile.” This allows potential dates to swipe left and right, rejecting or showing interest – depending almost entirely on the photos you have posted.

Now dating app Glimpse takes things one step further. Acknowledging the power of visuals, the new app uses your Instagram account to help you find matches. That is, Glimpse reveals photos you have taken on Instagram to potential matches, so they can get an idea of your interests, who you are, and what you like.

Instagram seems like a natural fit for online dating, but Glimpse is not the first to make a dating app using visual social media platforms. Take dating app Dreamcliq, launched a couple of years ago to little fanfare, which allows you to create a “vision board” of your interests to attract potential dates - matching according to photo-based profiles. The company marketed the app as being inspired by Pinterest.

There are some challenges with Glimpse. First, if your Instagram is full of selfies, it might be a turn-off for your dates. There are only so many duck faces potential mates can handle. Same thing if you like taking pictures of your food, or your puppy, or even your hiking landscapes – a few artful photographs are great, but sometimes it's too much. Also, what does an extensive photo collection tell you about the person taking the photo, other than they like their dogs, hikes, or crème brulee?

Unlike apps like Tinder, Glimpse doesn’t match based on location, but rather through your hashtags, events, locations and other similarities on Instagram. So, let’s say you include #sunsets or #foodporn tags in a few photos – you’ll be matched with singles in your area who used the same trending phrases. Or, you could be matched with someone you met last month at a party during your work conference. In other words, there seems to be a little more flexibility as well as common interests than a typical dating app. Plus, it gives you a starting point for conversation – something that is missing with Tinder.

Another advantage of Glimpse is that you can advertise yourself through visuals – but instead of worrying about how great your hair looks or whether or not you look big in a certain dress, the app lets you tell a story of who you are through your photos.

Glimpse launched in February and is available on iTunes, but by invitation only.

New Report on Dating App Trends Reveals Some Surprises

  • Wednesday, March 11 2015 @ 06:34 am
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If you’re a woman looking for a date, you might have better luck on dating apps than the guys. According to a new report from GlobalWebIndex, there are nearly 91 million people around the world using dating apps, but two-thirds of these users are men. The market skews younger, too – 70% of users are between 16 and 34.

While dating apps are certainly hot right now, they are only making a dent in terms of overall popularity in the online market. The report also states that 6% of Internet users use a location-based dating app, which puts the category behind niches like augmented reality (108 million monthly users), as well as games and social networking with 655 million and 582 million respectively.

Tinder might be the most popular dating app among Westerners with $1 billion valuation this year according to the report, but Chinese dating app Momo seems to be doing three times better with a $3 billion valuation as of 2015. Momo claims that they have 60 million active monthly users compared to Tinder, who projects 40 million users by April of this year. Of those 60 million Momo users, 25 million are in China, but the rest are across the globe in places like the United Arab Emirates, Phillippines, Thailand and India.

But what about the valuations? Considering most of these apps are free to download and use, how is it that they can be worth so much?

The report notes this discrepancy, too. Despite the large pool of dating app users, only one fifth of users have opted to pay for premium services. This research comes as Tinder is rolling out its new paid premium service, Tinder Plus. The initial roll-out of Tinder Plus in the U.K. was not received well, and in fact caused people with the free version of the app to downgrade its overall score in the app market to 1.5 stars. (In rolling out the new features, Tinder had also curbed some of the existing features of its free app – including limiting the number of matches a user could get per day.) Momo has only signed up two million for its paid service.

While other competitors aim to find their place in the market – offering more features, options and quality to the large and growing pool of dating app users - it seems that making money could still be elusive. Most apps draw users in by offering a free product, and then rolling out a paid “premium” service, but the people aren’t really responding. At least not as much as they need to for sustainable growth. The report points out that generating ad-based revenue is still a viable alternative, even if it means in-app advertising to maintain a free service.

We’ll see what the major dating app companies do next.

Coffee Meets Bagel Secures $7.8 Million in Funding

  • Friday, February 27 2015 @ 06:29 am
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Coffee Meets Bagel has been overshadowed by its more aggressive competitors (like Tinder), but lately has emerged as a serious, lasting contender in the dating app space. The company is showing its app has real growth potential by securing $7.8 million in a Series A financing round led by existing investor DCM Ventures. Quest Ventures and Azure Capital also participated in the round.

This round of financing is followed by the steadily growing success of an app whose founders like to take things slowly, testing what works in each market (starting with its launch in 2012 to New York and Boston markets) before moving on to the next. Recently, the company expanded from an iPhone-only app to include an Android app as well, opening markets further.

Coffee Meets Bagel sets itself apart by making the dating app experience feel more personal. People are connected through their social networks – through mutual friends on Facebook, for instance – so there is a level of assurance that you can avoid the scammers and fake profiles. Also, CMB users receive only one match per day, avoiding the whole Tinder hook-up potential. Each day, users have 24 hours to message their match, and then a week to set up a date before they vanish into the ethers. The point is to keep the conversation going, instead of just letting messages and matches accumulate while users see who else is out there.

While the design is game-like (you can get “coffee beans” by providing information or referring friends to the service, which in turn can be used to access additional features, like the ability to see who your mutual friends are, or to rekindle the flame with a match you neglected to message in time.) The company also teamed up in certain cities with local businesses to offer discounts to places you could go for a first date, although the growth of the app nation-wide has prevented them from doing this in more than a few major cities.

The additional funding will pay for engineers and developers to help build the core business so it can handle the projected growth in users. While the company hasn’t publicly shared their subscriber figures lately, the interest from investors is telling.

CMB has been compared to dating app Hinge and Are You Interested, which also focus on matches based on mutual social media connections.

The additional financing follows the company’s earlier participation in the TV series “Shark Tank,” where the founders proposed their business plans to celebrity investors in the hopes of gaining additional funding. While they didn’t get it from the TV show’s panel of judges, they have been successful in raising the funds elsewhere.

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