You will find the original TechCrunch article here: http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/25/facebook-can-disrupt-online-dating/
by Brian Bowman
The responsibility of dating sites should be to facilitate great first dates. Unfortunately, the dating industry has chosen to protect its charge-to-communicate business model instead of give consumers access to information to make an educated decision about a potential date: Is my date a real person? Who do we know in common and what mutual interests do we share?
But there is a site out there with 1 billion people that is quite familiar with my friends and me, as well as all of our interests: Facebook.
I have been involved in the dating and social industries since 2003. I was the vice president of product at Match.com, then vice president of community at Yahoo and am now the founder and CEO of Likeit.com. I met my wife on an online dating site, and we have been happily married for nine years.
Since the launch of Match in 1995, singles have searched for fun and love online by attempting to describe themselves in 500 words or fewer. They check boxes, they answer quizzes, and they hope for the best. This method has worked for some, but it has left millions of other users dateless and dissatisfied with their online dating experiences. A shallow pool of compelling matches, coupled with outdated information, leads to a constant churn of unhappy daters. Singles belong to 2.5 dating sites on average, expressing their desire to reach more people and find a better solution.
Men and women experience online dating very differently – think hunter-gatherer. Men typically send out hundreds of quickly written emails hoping someone will respond. Women can receive hundreds of emails a week, but respond to less than 2 percent. Part of the single’s frustration is that you can’t respond to an email unless you pay. On average, fewer than 10 percent of people subscribe to and unlock communication, meaning 90 percent of people can’t respond to your emails.
To complicate the single’s experience further, most dating profiles are static and lack social network updates. The site restricts information sharing to prevent identity leakage and maintain control over communication. A common question you will hear most singles ask when they first meet is, “Who do we know in common?” While real identity is standard on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, a majority of dating sites require anonymity, which prevents consumers from seeing mutual friends. The result: Most consumers don’t pay, and they abandon sites in frustration.
WHY HASN’T SOCIAL DISCOVERY DISRUPTED ONLINE DATING?
The social discovery market can be distilled into two primary markets: business networking and dating. While Badoo, Tagged and MeetMe position themselves as “meeting new people,” their primary use case is dating. Each has achieved reasonable success, but they have not integrated Facebook’s social graph so you can see someone’s friends. There is a lot of untapped opportunity to disrupt traditional dating if they take steps to integrate further with Facebook.
WHY HASN’T A KILLER SOCIAL DATING APP TAKEN OFF?
I remain convinced that online dating will evolve and integrate social elements. People have always met through mutual friends and shared interests, and bringing these capabilities online will enhance the user experience. But for most startups, there is a significant cold-start problem. Few startups are funded well enough to afford the marketing required to achieve scale. To be a successful, U.S.-wide, general-purpose dating site you need about 250,000 profiles. This allows the display of meaningful search results when singles filter for age, ethnicity, religion, distance and sexual preference.
Since most social dating sites can’t afford to buy users, they launch features to get viral. However, independent of age, four out of ten people will not post publicly on Facebook that they are using a dating app, and this arrests virality. The reluctance to share romantic activities on Facebook seems due in part to the intimacy of dating and the desire to share only with close family and friends. Many people feel increased reluctance to share their romantic endeavors on Facebook, because their group of Facebook friends has grown substantially to include co-workers, high school/college friends and extended family.
To illustrate the challenge, no social dating site has gained meaningful traction: theComplete.me (10,000), Yoke (10,000—Buzzfeed acqui-hire), Circl.es (1,000), LikeBright (1,000), thedatable (200), and atthepool.com (Alexa Rank 164,000) have struggled, while Wings, Gelato, and Thread are shuttered.
Despite these challenges and lack of innovation by the leaders, the online dating industry continues to be recession-proof – it is growing and has won wide acceptance among singles today. With Facebook’s Graph Search and the company’s newly expressed interest in online dating, can it reinvent dating, drive down the associated stigma and expand the market?
While the primary hurdle for Facebook may be privacy, there are other challenges, too. Just because someone’s profile indicates they are single does not mean they are ready for dating or want to be contacted by a stranger. On Facebook, receiving messages from strangers feels creepy (paid or not).
Facebook’s profiles are shallow and not representative of a user’s current interests or romantic preferences. Facebook’s structured data for things like movies, books, restaurants and sports is not as good as Netflix, Yelp, Amazon, etc. If Facebook becomes more competitive in these areas, will they maintain access to structured third-party feeds?
The real question may be how important is the dating market to Facebook? It will be a challenge to run so many vertical solutions: dating, recruiting, ratings, reviews, etc. Will they pick a few ideas on which to focus, and will dating make the cut?
HOW CAN FACEBOOK DISRUPT ONLINE DATING?
First, Facebook can assure singles that dating can be a completely private experience, and that dating activities will not be published on a wall unless singles want it to be published. Facebook can create a pseudo-closed environment by offering a dedicated dating section in About Me and allowing singles to choose whether that section is public, private or only viewable by people with dating profiles.
Facebook can easily leverage their massive social graph to enable meaningful friend-of-friend introductions. They can create very detailed, self-updating profiles by displaying and structuring data from Pinterest, Spotify, Pandora, Yelp, Netflix, Amazon, ESPN, GoodReads and more.
They can dominate real-time communication: chat, check-ins, poke, texting and Skype video chat. To help singles feel more comfortable, they can even set up a “dating inbox” to isolate unsolicited messages. To improve both the quality and response rates of emails, they can allow anonymous ratings of senders, and reward those with good behavior and thoughtful emails.
If I am on a date and I know we share trail running, Bikram yoga, spiritual books, action movies and five mutual friends, I have a lot of topics I can discuss. Facebook Graph Search will allow singles to find that special someone and could be transformational to the industry.
But most importantly, by simply allowing consumers to share their user names from other dating sites, Facebook can maintain the existing industry’s niches while allowing search and free communication across all dating services. In doing so, Facebook can simultaneously dismantle the pay-to-communicate business model that underpins a majority of the revenue in the industry today, and reinvent online dating by creating a massive front door that allows consumers to have a compelling, high-quality experience for free.
Here’s the link to the original TechCrunch article: http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/25/facebook-can-disrupt-online-dating/
Raises $500K in Financing from Western Technology Investment
San Francisco, CA—January 17, 2012—theComplete.me Inc. today announced $500K in financing from Western Technology Investment and the launch of LikeIt™ (http://www.likeit.com), a fun way to discover people, places, and things via social graph interests and social games.
“We are thrilled to have the distinguished investor Western Technology Investment support our mission to help people connect through shared interests and friends,” said Brian Bowman, theComplete.me Inc. Founder and CEO.
Similar to Facebook’s new Graph Search beta product, LikeIt™ enables social people discovery, helping users connect to others who are talking about the things they like and share their attitudes. The LikeIt™ social graph—already more than 20 million people strong—expands people search beyond the Facebook network, allowing users to easily aggregate interests and activities from eight other social networks into their people-discovery experience. LikeIt™ considers a broad picture of a user’s preferences to make people recommendations, while saving the user the time of having to repeat movie reviews, music channels, favorite restaurants, and other interests from numerous other social sites. The site also uses social games to continually update users’ searchable interests and opinions.
How LikeIt™ Works:
- Users log-in using a Facebook account and share their favorite music, movies, books, hobbies, and sports across Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Photobucket, Flickr, Foursquare, and Goodreads
- The site uses fun social games to encourage people to share their interests, which are fed into a recommendation engine to present interesting people from around the world
- “Would You Rather” questions let users compare opinions on today’s hottest topics
- “Top Interests” encourages sharing of preferences for movies, sports, music, celebrities, food, books, and more.
- “SuperFan” challenges users to pick friends’ top interests, such as the San Francisco 49ers, Oscars®, and Adele
- “Who Wore It Best” lets users share fashion opinions and tastes
- Using intuition and compatible interests, users play matchmaker for single friends with FriendConnect™
- LikeIt™ is committed to privacy, is TRUSTe certified, and offers users control over who sees what and when
LikeIt™ is a fun way to discover people, places, and things. Founded by Brian Bowman (CEO), former VP Community Yahoo! & VP Product Match.com, and Shashikant Joshi (CTO), former Founder/CTO Perfode. The LikeIt™ startup team and Board of Advisors include Braughm Ricke, former CFO True Ventures, Craig Allen, CEO Spark Interactive, Fran Maier, Co-founder of Match.com, and Neal Sample, Former VP Open Social Yahoo! Investors include: Intel Capital; PlentyOfFish; CrunchFund; Western Technology Investment; Russ Siegleman; Ben T. Smith IV; Social Starts, LLC; and Spark Unlimited, Inc.
# # # #
Contact: Brian Bowman, LikeIt.com™
Here’s an excerpt from a San Francisco Business Times article that includes discussion of theComplete.me:
Pinterest pioneered a model that made it easier to connect with people that shared similar interests said Brian Bowman, CEO of thecomplete.me, “The Pinterest of dating.”
Emulating that model, Thecomplete.me’s Pinterest-like profiles offer “a much more visceral way to understand who a person is,” Bowman said.
You can read the complete article here.
Now that the elections are over, let’s lighten the mood with these would you rather poll results. When we asked people if they would prefer to have Super Strength or the ability to Teleport… Teleportation one hands down. To our surprise, people prefer the ability to be invisible vs flying and most people love cookie dough (yum, yum) instead of brownie batter.
Come play our controversial “Would You Rather” game and let your “votes” be heard. http://www.thecomplete.me
In our latest poll we asked if the government should legalize soft drugs for medical use and a majority of people said yes (1,777 to 596). Interesting enough, when the same people were asked if they would legalize gambling 1,374 said no and 811 said yes. To round out the questions, we also asked people if they still need the right to carry a gun and the answer was a strong yes (1,963 vs 450).
How would you answer these questions, check them out on theComplete.me.
We have been running a new bit-sized social game called Would Your Rather, and after a couple thousand people have played, we have found the results pretty interesting and think you will too. To play for yourself, click here.
Who would you rather be President
Barack Obama – (1067)
Mitt Romney – (853)
Would you rather believe global warming is
Fact – (1058)
Fiction – (550)
Would you rather be Pro-Life or Pro-Choice
Pro-Life – (766)
Pro-Choice – (789)
Would you rather support
Gay Marriage – (503)
Civil Unions – (848)
Would you rather have
the Death Penalty - (924)
Life in prison without parole – (539)
What would you do with immigrants
build a wall / kick them out – (639)
pathway to citizenship – (780)
Should legalize soft drugs for medical use
No – (389)
Legalize it – (1131)
Would you legalize gambling
No – (865)
Yes – (531)
Do you believe we still need the right to carry a gun
Yes – (1263)
No – (280)
Obesity is a disease
yes – (847)
No – (555)
Would you rather have steroids in sports
Make them huge and fast – (82)
No, I like them natural – (1365)
Would you legalize doctor-assisted suicide
Yes, end of life is a personal decision – (712)
No person should be able to legally kill – (612)
Would you stop medical research on animals
Yes, it should be stopped. It’s cruel – (839)
No, we need safe animal research – (482)
Would you allow cloning of animals
No, we do not understand the long term issues – (893)
Yes, it has been proven safe – (388)
Would you allow cloning of people
No – (1094)
Yes – (211)
Would you encourage your kids to participate in sports
Yes – (1300)
No – (80)
Would you rather be
best chef in the world – (763)
best film director in the world – (579)
Would you prefer cigarettes are made illegal
No – (769)
Yes – (536)
Would you prefer zoos be shut down
Yes – (237)
No – (1079)
Would you prefer all citizens be required to vote by law
Yes – (488)
No – (782)
Do video games contribute to youth violence
No, it’s just a game – (540)
Yes, too much violence – (420)
Would you prefer military service be required
Yes – (388)
No – (500)
Would you prefer hunting be restricted to environmental areas
No – (443)
Yes – (426)
Do you prefer sex education be taught in schools
Yes – (743)
No – (159)
When Lesley Workman decided to meet up with a prospective Romeo from OkCupid, the 30-something Internet entrepreneur noticed something wrong on first sight. “He looked at least 10 years older than his profile picture,” she says.
It’s become a loathsome part of the dating process. You spot an online cutie, develop some excellent chat banter and arrange an IRL (“in real life”) meeting with Angel214 or Casanova2012 only to be disappointed by what can most generously be called “discrepancies” in their profiles.
Workman nixed one suitor whose true personality was revealed via Facebook. He “uploaded a photo of a girl in a G-string bikini on a bike on his profile,” she says. “That extra information is why I had no interest in entertaining a conversation with him.”
After her run-in with the Dorian Gray-like dude, Workman joined theComplete.me. Since then, she’s ignored her OkCupid account because the site’s users share interests and other information via verified Facebook accounts.
“The goal is to mimic the way singles meet when they’re not in front of the computer,” says Brian Bowman, founder and CEO of theComplete.me. It also allows daters to weed out unwanted advances, like philanderers looking for a covert fling.
Julie Spira, self-proclaimed cyber-dating expert and author of the book “The Perils of Cyberdating” says sites like these are likely to become the new Internet standard for love seekers.
“People want to verify now,” says Spira, who coaches singles and even writes profiles for her clients. “The next generation of people dating online are looking for a real connection.”
That includes your real name and maybe a couple of references from your real friends.
To read the full article, click here.
A fun interview with Brian Bowman (Founder/CEO) The Problem with Women is Men! – Online Dating — Does It Produce Results?
You know how it goes: You sign-up for an online dating site, plunk down your credit card, and spend 90+ minutes filling out (what amounts to) a personality test. But those questions only gauge your wants and needs for that moment in time, and are often geared towards short-term relationships. Check out the radio interview with Brian Bowman, founder and CEO of TheComplete.Me — the first dating site that ties directly into Facebook to account for your interests, likes… and proves you’re who you say you are. Did reality just hit online dating? Find out in this episode.
Below are excerpts from an article by Eli Finkel published in Scientific America debunking the “matching algorithms” used by eHarmony, Chemistry.com, PerfectMatch.com, GenePartner.com, and FindYourFaceMate.com. To summarize the article, there is no scientific validity to the claims that personality testing can produce or predict relationship success.
I was the VP of Product Strategy at Match.com when eHarmony launched. After multiple conversations with PhDs, the company understood that personality testing was snake oil but it offered great marketing sizzle and Match decided to build Chemistry.com, our answer to eHarmony. In fact, we were very motivated because eHarmony had just taken out the most profitable part of online dating, people that are willing to pay a premium for help finding a marriage partner. Basically, we knew it would boil down to “my PhD can beat up your PhD” and the best marketing company would win.
Online dating has experienced very little product innovation since the launch of eHarmony and PlentyOfFish, so major dating sites have competed with TV advertising, branding and marketing claims. If you say you offer “secret sauce” enough times on TV, a chunk consumers will believe it. But times have changed and so have consumers.
I want to thank Eli for shining a scientific-light on the misinformation shared by several major dating sites. The industry has an opportunity to innovate by moving away from their dependence on snake oil, scientific matching and their reliance on charging consumers to communicate and instead move rapidly to embrace the social networking, real identity and true interest matching.
At theComplete.me our goal is simple, we want to help consumers have a great first date and we believe that is all a website can strive to deliver. We do this by approaching “matching” differently, we allow consumers to import their interests from nine social networks and quickly find people who share their passions and interests. Our interest matching allows people to discover easy ice-breaking conversations and find common ground for their first date… the rest is up to them.
Back to Eli’s article… two of the major weaknesses with traditional dating sites: the over dependence on profile browsing and the overheated emphasis on “matching algorithms.” A series of studies spearheaded by our co-author Paul Eastwick has shown that people lack insight regarding which characteristics in a potential partner will inspire or undermine their attraction to him or her (see here, here, and here ). As such, singles think they’re making sensible decisions about who’s compatible with them when they’re browsing profiles, but they can’t get an accurate sense of their romantic compatibility until they’ve met the person face-to-face.
It is not difficult to convince people unfamiliar with the scientific literature that a given person will, all else equal, be happier in a long-term relationship with a partner who is similar rather than dissimilar to them in terms of personality and values. Nor is it difficult to convince such people that opposites attract in certain crucial ways.
The problem is that relationship scientists have been investigating links between similarity, “complementarity” (opposite qualities), and marital well-being for the better part of a century, and little evidence supports the view that either of these principles—at least when assessed by characteristics that can be measured in surveys—predicts marital well-being.
… relationship scientists have discovered a great deal about what makes some relationships more successful than others. For example, such scholars frequently videotape couples while the two partners discuss certain topics in their marriage, such as a recent conflict or important personal goals. Such scholars also frequently examine the impact of life circumstances, such as unemployment stress, infertility problems, a cancer diagnosis, or an attractive co-worker. Scientists can use such information about people’s interpersonal dynamics or their life circumstances to predict their long-term relationship well-being.
But algorithmic-matching sites exclude all such information from the algorithm because the only information those sites collect is based on individuals who have never encountered their potential partners (making it impossible to know how two possible partners interact) and who provide very little information relevant to their future life stresses (employment stability, drug abuse history, and the like).
Based on user feedback, we wanted to simply the process for finding people and for creating deeper / more meaningful profiles. To be honest, we made a mistake and built the site “inside out”. To put this into Facebook terms, we built the Facebook Profile but people really wanted to see the Facebook NewsFeed (i.e. a Wall of People).
We heard from many consumers that they don’t always use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or other social networks with the intent of describing themselves through the products or services they have liked, followed, commented on, etc and that most people feel their profiles where too shallow to accurately describe themselves to a potential partner.
We needed to allow people to quickly find new interests and add them to their theComplete.me profile. We have over 2 million interest to chose from broken in to easy to find categories. Once a consumer finds an interest (say Lady Gaga), they can click on it and find other people in their area that also share the same interest.
We look forward to your feedback and thoughts.