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While online dating sites may be socially valuable, they usually don’t offer their founders a financially satisfying exit strategy.
Few dating sites earn a valuation comparable to that of technology companies, perhaps because the online matchmaking business has a low barrier to entry, with thousands of sites worldwide and countless new ones launching every year.
“If you want to create a great experience for everyone, both men and women, you have to have a product and branding that speaks to women,” said Kang.
Waldorf recalled that during his time at e Harmony, the pool was mostly women, but the male members were more active, so “it actually created a good balance of the number of messages that were going both ways.” He added that “by getting the balance right, it worked for the business and worked for the users.” Like many couples, online dating businesses struggle over money, in particular over choosing how or whether to charge customers for the service.
Sites rarely know if the matches they recommend, whether based on analyses of members’ profiles, “compatibility algorithms,” or other data analytics, ever pan out into marriage, a satisfying relationship, or even a few dates.
The League considers the exchange of phone numbers a success, said CEO Amanda Bradford, MBA ’14.
The consistent flow of dating sites led by Stanford GSB alumni is a head-turner.
If they come back to a site after a hiatus, though, they may feel satisfied with their experiences.
Like dating itself, the online matchmaking business is complicated and exhausting.
For starters, it’s one of the few industries in which your customers, sifting through dozens if not hundreds of photos, messages, and suggested matches, will likely become increasingly disillusioned and unhappy with your product.
How we find love has changed dramatically over the past 25 years as singles turn to technology to find that special someone, said Weinstein.
(Although attendees mingling during the cocktail hour were encouraged to state their relationship status on their name tags.) Panelists discussed some of the challenges unique to operating an online dating site and gave their own advice on finding love online. One challenge for online dating sites is gauging their success at forging relationships.