Zoosk Goes for Old-Fashioned Romance with New Gift Service

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Online dating site Zoosk just announced the launch of its new limited release delivery service. The new service allows users to ship romantic (and real-life) gifts to other Zoosk members they want to pursue who live in most U.S. states.

So if your online love lives in New York and you’re in California? Zoosk has got you covered, at least in terms of sending gifts. The idea behind the delivery service is to provide members with an innovative, romantic, and creative way to interact with each other. Instead of going for winks and video chats to grab a potential love interest’s attention, the site opted for something a little more traditional – chocolates and flowers for instance.

If you’ve just met online, is sending someone a gift coming on a little bit strong? Not according to Zoosk. In fact, the company sees it as a strategic way of making a first impression in an online dating world filled with a lot of noise from all the digital outreach. Online dating gets overwhelming after a while, and you forget who is who unless someone really captures your attention. Sending a gift is definitely more memorable than an email. (Also, some people are better with witty online banter, and some would rather just buy a gift and hope that it piques some interest.)

To send a gift, Zoosk members visit an eligible member’s profile and select the “ship a gift” button. The gift recipient receives an email alert from Zoosk that a fellow Zoosk member would like to send him or her a gift, and can either accept the gift by providing a shipping address, or decline to provide an address.

“When we created Zoosk, we set out to provide a service that helps single adults make real-world connections and build lasting relationships,” said Shayan Zadeh, Co-Founder and CEO of Zoosk. “Testing new ideas is part of Zoosk’s DNA and this particular feature allows singles to catch the attention of someone they find special.”

The delivery service is limited to specific areas in the U.S. and is also limited in terms of what you can send. If you want to get really creative, you’ll have to wait until you’re familiar enough with your online date to meet in person. But in the meantime, you can send either chocolate, flowers or a teddy bear. (Personally, I’d go for the chocolate.)

With all of the latest mobile technology in regard to online dating, it’s refreshing to see something a little more “real world.” It’s also nice to see old-fashioned romance in the midst of last-minute drinks and mobile app hook-ups. For all its simplicity, maybe Zoosk is onto something clever.

For more information on this dating site your can read our Zoosk review.

The Biggest Online Dating Services, By The Numbers

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Despite still facing the occasional naysayer, the Internet and dating have proved to be a match made in heaven. With consumers using the Internet more and more each year, demand for online dating services continues its meteoric rise. In particular, the ever-increasing popularity of smartphones has made mobile applications a booming business for dating services.

IBISWorld, a global business intelligence leader specializing in Industry Market Research and Procurement and Purchasing research reports, recently put together a comprehensive guide to the online dating industry's market size and growth prospects. By all accounts, the future looks bright for the industry's biggest forces.

InterActiveCorp is the one to beat. The largest company in the industry, IAC counts Match, OkCupid, and Tinder amongst its brands. The New York City-based company is expected to grab 27% of the estimated $2.2 billion market for US dating services in 2014, according to the new IBISWorld report. Analyst Jeremy Edwards predicts IAC's US Match revenue will rise 11.5% to $605.1 million this year, with operating income up 14% to $192.8 million.

Coming solidly in second place is eHarmony, a privately held company based out of Santa Monica, CA. eHarmony proudly dominates 13.8% of the US dating service market, IBISWorld says. The company’s projected US revenue for 2014 is $310 million, up 6.9%, with operating income up 9.6% to $35.3 million.

Spot #3 goes to San Francisco-based Zoosk, with 5.1% market share. 2014 has been a big year for Zoosk so far. The company filed for an initial public offering in April and IBISWorld predicts it will generate $114.2 million in US sales, up 24.5%, and operating income of $3.5 million. That's a nice change from a loss of $100,000 in 2013.

Finally, occupying fourth place, is dating service Spark Networks, with 3.2% US market share.

Altogether, the four largest companies account for 49.1% of US dating service revenue. The industry’s other winners are mobile dating (26%), matchmakers (14%), and singles events (7%).  IBISWorld expects the US dating service industry to grow at an annual rate of 4.2% from 2014 through 2019 - at which point it predicts sales will reach a whopping $2.7 billion.

"It is estimated that niche dating networks and services catering to the baby boomer generation will see the most growth," Edwards said. "In addition, revenue for the mobile dating market is expected to nearly double in the next five years, with rising smartphone adoption and new location-based features leading the market." 

Zoosk Finds The Most Open-Minded Cities For Online Daters

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When it comes to choosing that perfect partner, some people are more flexible than others. We all have a dealbreaker or two, but some folks are straight-up close-minded about their love lives. For their latest study, Zoosk decided to identify where the most open-minded daters in America live. For the purposes of the study, “open-mindedness” refered specifically to how willing the person is to date someone different from himself or herself.

After using “advanced data technology” to analyze nearly 1,000,000 “deep conversations” (defined as communications that included two or more exchanged messages) between users, Zoosk handed the info over to their “brilliant data nerds” for interpretation. The top 10 most open-minded cities for dating are:

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Detroit, Michigan
  3. Columbus, Ohio
  4. Sacramento, California
  5. San Antonio, Texas
  6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  7. Indianapolis, Indiana
  8. Jacksonville, Florida
  9. Nashville, Tennessee
  10. Memphis, Tennessee

And the top 10 least open-minded cities for dating are:

  1. Raleigh, North Carolina
  2. San Jose, California
  3. Birmingham, Alabama
  4. Richmond, Virginia
  5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  6. Washington DC
  7. San Diego, California
  8. Atlanta, Georgia
  9. Riverside, California
  10. Orlando, Florida

Some cities that didn't score well for open-mindedness overall also ranked on specific dating criteria:

  • The most open-minded daters when it comes to height are found in New Orleans. The least open-minded are in Salt Lake City, UT and Richmond, VA.
  • When it comes to age, the most open-minded men are located in Seattle and the most open-minded women live in Indianapolis. The least open-minded men and women are found in Raleigh, NC and Richmond, VA.
  • Prior marriages are looked down upon in Hartford, CT and Cincinnati, OH, but daters in Salt Lake City and Vegas are unlikely to care about the ups and downs of your marital history.
  • Religion isn’t a big deal in California, where men in San Francisco and women in San Jose were rated the most open-minded. In Alabama, on the other hand, faith is extremely important. Birmingham is the most close-minded city for both men and women.
  • They like ‘em educated in North Carolina and California. Men and women who call Raleigh and San Jose home are the least flexible about college degrees. In Salt Lake City, on the other hand, college degrees aren't deal breakers for either men or women.
  • Body conscious? Then move to San Antonio or Oklahoma City, where citizens are most open-minded about body type. Steer clear of Louisville, KY, the least body type-tolerant city in the country, unless you're super fit.
  • Beware of your vices. Smoking is most acceptable in Columbus, OH and Buffalo, NY and least acceptable in Miami and San Jose. Drinking is most acceptable in Providence, RI and least acceptable in San Jose in Salt Lake City.

See the infographic here. To find out more about the dating site which brought us these statistics you can read our Zoosk review.

Zoosk Reveals the Cities with the Most Open-Minded Daters

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Do you consider yourself an open-minded dater? If you live in L.A. or New York your potential dates are not as open-minded as you might assume. In fact, Las Vegas is the number one city for daters who are more receptive to others who don't share the same beliefs - not the coastal cities.

Dating website Zoosk looked at a sample of about a million of its members to see what regions in the U.S. had the most open-minded daters. The site looked at members’ willingness to date someone with different viewpoints on important topics such as children, religion, previous marriages, and education – and unveiled that coastal and generally forward-thinking cities aren’t as open-minded when it comes to who they will date.

Cities in the heartland - Las Vegas Nevada, Detroit Michigan and Columbus Ohio - made the top three on the list of cities with the most open-minded daters. Rounding out the bottom, where you’ll find the least open-minded daters, was Raleigh North Carolina, San Jose California, and Birmingham Alabama.

In addition to overall open-mindedness, the study looked at the breakdown of different topics that are important subjects for daters, such as religion. They found that singles in San Jose, California are the most open-minded about dating someone outside of their religion, while singles in Birmingham, Alabama are the least open-minded.

Educational disparity can be a deal-breaker for some daters. Salt Lake City, Utah has the highest concentration of singles willing to date someone with a different level of education, while singles in San Jose, California predominantly look for a partner with the same level of education.

And what about those who have been married before? Would you be willing to date someone who’s divorced? As it turns out, singles in Salt Lake City, Utah are most open to dating someone who was previously married, while singles in Hartford, Connecticut are least likely to consider the option.

Body type can be a concern for daters, too. San Antonio, Texas has the highest concentration of singles willing to date someone with a different body type than their own, while singles in Louisville, Kentucky largely look for a partner with a similar physique.

And what about smoking and drinking habits? Singles who reside in Nashville, Tennessee are most open to dating someone who has different smoking habits, while singles in Miami, Florida are least likely to do so. Providence, Rhode Island singles are most open to dating someone whose drinking habits differ from their own, unlike singles in San Jose, California who are not.

Zoosk: The Netflix Of Dating?

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Zoosk just filed for IPO last month, but already the hype is huge. Upon the announcement of its plans to go public, Zoosk was dubbed ‘the Netflix of dating’ by the media and investor interest shot through the roof.

The "dating services" industry was valued at $2.1 billion in annual revenue by IBISWorld in September 2013. 68.7% of that figure comes from online and mobile dating services. IBISWorld predicts that the market as a whole will grow by 5% over the course of the next four years. The biggest players in the industry are names that are familiar to everyone, whether or not they have ever used the services: Match.com, OkCupid, eHarmony.

Zoosk may be smaller, but it’s no slouch. The online dating platform has over 26 million members, including approximately 650,000 subscribers across 80 countries. Zoosk’s membership grew from 18 million in 2012 to its current numbers, while the number of paying subscribers over the same period grew from 483,000 to 650,000. The company anticipates continued revenue growth based on its unique business model that’s similar to Netflix or Pandora.

What Zoosk has in common with those two Internet giants is its complex proprietary behavioral matchmaking engine. The technology analyzes your behavior on the site – from who you click yes on to who you linger on a little longer before saying no – to get to know you better (possibly even better than you know yourself). By tracking your actions on the website and evaluating your preferences based on it, Zoosk hopes to be able to anticipate your love life's every need, in the same way that Pandora guesses what kind of music you’ll like and Netflix suggests movies it thinks you should watch.

Of course, the stakes are a little higher when you can't just press pause or hit a skip button when you're not satisfied with the choice. Still, Zoosk is thriving. At the end of 2013, it was the highest grossing dating app and one of the top 25 highest grossing iPhone apps of the year. With a 2.9% market share, according to the IBISWorld report, Zoosk is one of the biggest players in the game.

That being said, Zoosk is not profitable. The company posted net losses of $2.6 million last year and admitted that it “may not achieve or sustain profitability in the future" in its S-1 filing with the SEC. For the future, if the IPO is to be successful (and the company as a whole), Zoosk will need to increase brand awareness via public relations, social media, and advertising. Zoosk must also create an effective system for retaining users and continue to expand its presence on mobile.

For more on this dating service you can read our Zoosk review.

Zoosk Reaches 26M Users And Files For $100M IPO

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This week’s round of congratulatory applause goes to Zoosk, which just filed its S-1 registration statement with the SEC and announced its plans to raise $100 million in an initial public offering.

The company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ZSK, with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, and Citigroup Global Markets underwriting the IPO. Oppenheimer & Co. and William Blair will also be joining as co-managers.

As part of its filing, Zoosk provided details of its global online dating business.  The company states that the website now has 26 million members across 80 countries, including 650,000 subscribers (users who pay for access to additional features and products). The company also states that its user base grew from 18 million at the end of the year in 2012 to its current numbers, a 44% growth rate. The number of paying subscribers grew to 650,000 in 2013 from 483,000 in December 2012.

As those subscriber numbers have grown, so too has revenue. Revenue increased 63% from 2012 to 2013, rising from $109.1 million to $178.2 million. Net loss also decreased drastically during that period, from $20.7 million in 2012 to just $2.6 million at the end of 2013. Subscriptions account for much of that revenue ($153.8 million), but Zoosk also has a rapidly growing virtual currency business that jumped from $5.4 million in revenue in 2012 to $24.3 million a year later.

On top of that, Zoosk has raised more than $60 million since being founded in 2007. Investors include Crosslink Capital, Keating Capital, Canaan Partners, Bessemer Ventures, ATA Ventures, Jeff Epstein, Plug & Play Ventures, and Amidzad Partners.

While it started out on the web, Zoosk has been hugely successful in the mobile arena. In the Apple App Store it's the #1 grossing dating app and a top 25 grossing app overall. Much of that success can be chalked up to the site's proprietary Behavioral Matchmaking engine, which learns from a user's clicks, messages and other actions to produce more compatible matches. The better the data it gathers, the better its recommendations get.

Looking to the future, Zoosk knows the biggest challenges it will face. The service must optimize its strategy for retaining current members as well as its approach to attracting new members and subscribers. Zoosk must find a way to retain high levels of user engagement and subscription rates and, most importantly, must continue honing its Behavioral Matchmaking engine in order to connect users with mutual attraction.

To find out more about this service you can read our review of Zoosk.