Religion

JDate and JSwipe and their Hot and Cold Relationship

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There’s no doubt about it: JDate is a big name in the world of online dating, and when it wants something, it will go to great lengths to get it. And recently, its parent company Spark Networks decided that it wanted popular dating app JSwipe, owned by Smooch Labs. The two companies struck a deal in late October, and now JSwipe is one of the dating properties of Spark Networks, along with dating sites Christian Mingle and Black Singles in addition to JDate.

JSwipe, which launched in April of 2014, has grown rapidly, with over 450,000 downloads worldwide and over 40 million messages between users. The dating app was definitely posing some competition to JDate, and attracting a younger user base who prefer apps to the traditional dating websites. This made the company an attractive target for Spark Networks, JDate’s owner.

In fact, JSwipe and JDate have had a tumultuous dating history, so to speak. Earlier this year, Forbes broke the story that JDate was suing JSwipe for copyright infringement because JSwipe was using the trademark “J” in the name of their app. In the lawsuit, JDate also claimed it owned the patent on software that “confidentially determines matches and notifies users of mutual matches in feelings and interests,” which would ultimately interfere with all dating apps using this technology (in other words, all dating apps).

JSwipe at first fought back, going to the press with the story of the lawsuit and calling out JDate for trying to shut the app down. JSwipe also started an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign to help them fight the lawsuit against JDate, assumingly because they didn’t have the funds to fight on their own. As it turns out, either the company ran out of money, or JDate put forth a really compelling offer, which Spark Networks said they would reveal later in the company’s 4th quarter financial statements.

The lawsuit has been dropped and Sparks Networks put out a press release, praising the new relationship between JDate and JSwipe. Michael Egan, Chief Executive Officer of Spark Networks, stated in the release, “We’re very excited to welcome the Smooch Labs team into Spark.  They’ve created a fantastic mobile application that helps young Jews meet and form meaningful relationships, and together with JDate, our leading Jewish focused dating platform, Spark is now able to significantly build on its mission to strengthen the Jewish community through dating and marriage.” David Yarus, founder of JSwipe had equally glowing statements about the union.

While JSwipe remains free to download right now, Sparks Networks has promised that new paid premium services will be rolled out in the near future. For more information on JDate you can read our review of JDate.

Christian Crush Brings Together The Single And Faithful

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Christian Crush Dating Service

Having something in common is key to any successful relationship. Intimacy requires shared interests and values, which often come from religious beliefs. Enter Christian dating sites, which bring faith to the forefront in the search for love.

Niche, religion-based dating sites are a simple way to weed out those who don’t share the same fundamental values as you do, ultimately giving you a greater chance of compatibility and long-term relationship success (or, at the very least, something in common to discuss on your first date).

Christian Crush is an up-and-coming Christian dating site. Though relatively new, having only been around since 2011, Christian Crush is making a name for itself. The service offers a balance of personality-based and faith-based matching in order to create the most well-rounded experience for members.

What makes Christian Crush stand out against competition like ChristianMingle? These are a few of the reasons:

  • New CC users receive their first two weeks free
  • CC is the only Christian dating service that's Christian owned and operated
  • CC is the only Christian dating service developed by a Christian psychologist
  • CC is the only Biblical dating site using video profiles
  • CC is the only Christian personals site using a derivative of the Big Five personality assessment
  • Ten percent of all CC proceeds are tithed to local ministries

Christian Crush says its mission is to “provide the highest quality ministry on the web for Christians to connect and develop Godly, covenant based relationships.” In service of that goal, the company operates based on six core values that define its vision and inform its operations.

That's not to say that Christian Crush relies entirely on faith. The profile is composed of an interesting combination of religion and psychology. You'll find all the usual questions about appearance, education, politics and lifestyle, but also more specific questions about the role of religion in your life.

A detailed personality quiz offers further insight into Christian Crush members. Although it's 120 questions long, it only takes around 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire. The results are scored in accordance with a modified version of the Big Five personality assessment, which evaluates personality traits across the five categories of extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience.

Christian Crush is an innovative player in the religious dating game. It doesn't seem to follow a particular mold – it isn't secular, but it doesn't feel entirely Biblical either. Instead Christian Crush takes a new school approach to finding love based on faith, which could be exactly what it needs to claim the top spot in the Christian dating industry.

JDate sues JSwipe over Copyright Infringement

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Late last year, a lawsuit was discreetly filed by Spark’s popular niche dating website JDate against dating app JSwipe. According to Forbes who broke the story, JDate claimed that JSwipe was infringing on the company’s trademark “J” by using it in the name of their app.

JDate isn’t the only Jewish online dating website that caters to the Jewish community and uses the letter “J” in its offerings. There is also JCrush, JWed, JPeopleMeet, Jewish Café, and Jewcier to name a few. In fact, it seems difficult to name a niche dating app catering to the Jewish community without using the letter J. But there is more to the story, which potentially puts all online dating sites and apps in danger of patent infringement.

In the lawsuit, JDate also claims it owns the patent on software that “confidentially determines matches and notifies users of mutual matches in feelings and interests.” JSwipe is similar in its process to Tinder, which also notifies users when matches swipe right on their picture. This is in violation of JDate’s patent.

Why then has JDate not sued other websites or dating apps, since this is such a broad definition of matching that almost every dating app and website uses? Notifying users of potential matches is the bread and butter of online dating. Why not go after an app like Tinder?

The key might lie in the competition JSwipe presents, especially if it is gaining market share in the niche online dating space. According to the Forbes writer who broke the story, JSwipe’s founder David Yarus confidentially confessed the lawsuit to him, though he is forbidden from discussing details. Instead of accepting JDate’s acquisition offer (which he considered too low), he decided to fight the lawsuit rather than sell. (For all you fans of Silicon Valley on HBO, this sounds vaguely similar to Pied Piper’s plight as an up-and-comer in the tech world.)

But JDate might have a case against JSwipe. According to Forbe’s research into intellectual property law, the language used in JDate’s patent was registered in 1999, and it is broad – broad enough (as mentioned earlier) to cover most dating websites and apps on the market today – so they could essentially claim IP infringement over any other company in the space. According to analysts, this might be a move by JDate to acquire JSwipe for a steal. Chances are if they tried to sue Match or Tinder, those companies' lawyers would be able to fight and win. JSwipe is too small a player.

Using the letter “J” in a dating app or website is apparently less clear-cut in legal terms. JDate would have to find evidence that users confuse Jswipe with JDate, which means asking users to testify that they thought Jswipe was part of JDate, or somehow affiliated, which would be trickier and more time-consuming.

JSwipe is fighting back. They have set up a crowdfunding website and asked for Jewish lawyers to take them on pro bono. 

For more on the Spark Networks dating site, you can read our review of JDate.

Iran launches State-Run Dating Website

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Young singles in Iran have long been using Western online dating sites to meet each other, with over 300 operating within its borders. But now, the government wants to get involved in residents’ personal lives by creating its own online dating website – drawing users away from Western sites, which are perceived to encourage sex before marriage.

The move is prompted by a growing divorce rate among young couples – especially those under 30 – which has the country’s leaders concerned. Government officials link the high divorce rate to the “immoral” tendencies of the way Western dating sites operate, which they perceive are intended for more casual hook-ups. So now, the government is appealing to young peoples’ technologically-savvy tendencies to push their own agenda among online daters. The big question is: will it actually attract users?

In a country where Internet access and social media is tightly controlled by religious authorities, it seems an unusual step for the government to jump on the online dating bandwagon. The Iranian government has long been weary of online dating sites, but now with rising divorce rates, they want to turn things around.

The challenge comes with the dating site itself – hamsan.tebyan.net is run by the Islamic Development Organization, an institution under the supervision of the Supreme Leader that “promotes the Islamic lifestyle,” according to a report by the BBC.

Basic profile information is not shared among users – including pictures, hobbies, and interests like favorite movies or food. Religious authorities deem this type of sharing as “immodest.” Instead, users are only able to see things like a match’s height, weight, and parents’ professions.

There are some government-approved dating websites that operate in Iran, which offer for a young couple to meet and date under the supervision of a cleric, typically in the cleric’s office. The couples’ parents can be brought in if it seems there is likely a match to be made.

Single residents of Iran used to Western online dating sites are skeptical of the government-run site. One told BBC Persian: "Matches would be chosen by the people running the website, and I can't trust that they would make the right decision. Other websites have arithmetic that match candidates according to their likes and dislikes, but this one is entirely arbitrary," he said.

Right now, the service only operates in Tehran, but the government plans to open it to other cities.

Spark Networks Reports Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results

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Spark Networks, owner of many special-interest online personals sites including ChristianMingle.com, JDate.com, and BlackSingles.com, has reported financial results for the third quarter ending on September 30, 2014.

It was a time of major transitions for the company. The majority of the Board was removed in July. The new Board was primarily focused on right-sizing the corporate cost structure and improving marketing efficiency, two goals which were, according to Executive Chairman Michael McConnell, largely accomplished. “Improved marketing efficiency at ChristianMingle drove subscriber acquisition costs ('SAC') in September that were less than subscriber lifetime value ('LTV') for the first time since January 2012,” he reports.

On the numbers front, Spark Networks presents the following highlights:

  • Contribution of $9.0 million, highest since Q1 2009
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $2.5 million, highest since Q1 2010
  • Average paying subscribers of 257,679, a sequential decline of 6%
  • Revenue of $15.0 million, a decrease of 14% compared to the year-ago period and a 5% decrease compared to the prior quarter

As you can see, it's a mixed bag. The drop in revenue was primarily driven by a 14% decrease in average paying subscribers, reflecting a year-over-year 15% and 9% decline in average paying subscribers for the Christian and Jewish Networks segments, respectively.

On the up side, direct marketing expenses in the third quarter of 2014 were down 52% compared to the year-ago period and 24% compared to the prior quarter. Contribution in the third quarter of 2014 was $9.0 million, an increase of 90% compared to the year-ago period and a 14% increase compared to the prior quarter. In both cases, Christian Networks was the primary driver (improved marketing efficiency and a better mix within the paying subscriber base, to be more specific).

Looking forward, McConnell says the company's primary objective is to improve product functions and features across all platforms. A JDate iPhone app was recently approved and a ChristianMingle app should be on its way soon. Spark Networks is also looking to leverage its presence in Israel and outsource some other development activities in order to speed up product development.

"In summary,” says McConnell, “much has been accomplished in the last several months, but much work remains. The team has embraced our future with a sense of urgency and focus. We look forward to driving changes that create a terrific experience for our customers and support the core communities we serve."

JDate Launches New iPhone App

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JDate, a popular dating website for Jewish singles, has launched a new mobile app for its members.

In the past couple of years mobile apps have taken off among daters, especially with the popularity of free and easy-to-use dating apps like Tinder, so traditional dating sites have had to step up their mobile game. After all, most people have their phones with them at all times and are able to log in anytime, anywhere, as opposed to their desktops.

Desktop dating is almost a thing of the past. Since it’s much easier to access phone apps, mobile dating apps tend to be stickier for users – attracting people to check in when they are waiting in line or for a friend to meet them, or just bored. The more often people are logging in, the more attractive it is to other potential users, which is what online dating companies want.

Enter JDate’s new app, which they describe as “a robust, on-the-go experience.” The features however are pretty standard, compared to what is already available via mobile dating apps. The big difference is their loyal user base – singles looking for relationships with similarly religious people.

Some of the new features include a better snapshot of each potential match. For each profile, you can easily see information such as location, religious preference (orthodox, reform, etc.), how well matched you are (0-100%), and from the same screen, you can choose to look at profile details, chat, email, or flirt with your match.

Photo access has improved, too. From the app, you can scroll through hundreds of photos of your matches (a la Tinder), as well as upload your own either from your phone, Instagram or Facebook.

Subscribers have the ability to chat instantly with other members who are either currently browsing the app or on the site from a desktop, and can hold multiple chats at once. They also have the ability to see who has favorited them or viewed their profile, and to see who is nearby via the “Members of the Tribe” feature.

The app also includes JDate’s popular “Secret Admirer” game, where a member can anonymously show interest in another member.

Reviews on the iTunes store have been mixed. Many users are happy with the results compared to apps of other traditional dating sites like Match and eHarmony because of JDate's easy-to-navigate format, but they are frustrated by the search capabilities as well as how long it took the company to make a well-formatted app.

JDate currently has over 750,000 members worldwide. To find out more about this service you can read our JDate review.