Cuban Disses CMB, Funds Competitor Courtem

courtem datingThe Coffee Meets Bagel crash & burn on Shark Tank has led to an interesting development.

Mark Cuban, who’s $30M offer the CMB sisters turned down, has invested in Courtem, a dating app from the Anheuser-Busch family. Cuban serves as an advisor and holds an equity stake in the company.

Singles join Courtem to see, “what someone might offer them as the best date of their life.” Courtem goes beyond simply the shallow (at first glance) interactions of other dating apps and urges users to thoroughly review another’s profile, interests, friends-in-common, proximity, and rating to help them develop their best date proposal. The direct date proposal system eliminates swiping and judging on a “hot or not” basis.

Oh the lies. The first thing I see when I log in is a Tinder interface, complete with swiping! They call it a 360-degree dating application. I call it yet another Tinder clone with some reputation and scheduling baked in. Plus, they use “court” as a noun, the press release is full of grammatical errors and there is a big dumb Patent Pending thing on the home page. As if. I’m picky about this stuff, big boooo to the Courtem marketing and PR teams.

Progressive communication features are nice, I’ll give them that, but they lost me already because even though I am in Vermont, the app only shows me two 18 year old women. How can such esteemed founders forget to front-load the database and make sure this doesn’t happen? Facepalm.

There’s more than a little HowAboutWe baked into the mix as well. Because we know how well date suggestions work out, right?

The Doodle-like scheduling of the day and time of our next communication is neat but talk about friction.

As I thought, the app is as bland and tasteless as the beer.

Maybe version 2.0 will grace us with a bevy of stellar improvements, you never know.

Scamalytics Release Industry Report on Scammers and Dating Fraud | Scamalytics

GDI

Global Dating Insights and Scamalytics have collaborated on a scammers and dating fraud report.

The report covers scammers and dating fraud and what the industry and third-parties can do to combat the threat they pose.

They look at the current frauds infecting mobile apps like Tinder, trends like sextortion, and how these scammers are adapting their methods to the new dating landscape, and cleverly circumventing security measures.

The report also seeks to show that stopping dating scammers is not only a huge positive for both the customer and the industry as the whole, but can also be good for business.

Download the report here (PDF).

Coffee Meets Bagel Lands $7.8M Funding

Today’s dating industry jaw-dropper is that Coffee Meets Bagel has managed to convince investors to give them almost $8M to continue to build and grow the straggling service. Investors just gave a niche service a huge pot of gold. Full details at TechCrunch.

Only a few weeks ago, CMB failed spectacularly on Shark Tank, flubbing their pitch and then turning down $30 million from Mark Cuban, the biggest offer ever on the show. Unbelievable.

I would have taken the money and run. Delivering singles one match a day doesn’t work. People want choice, just look at Tinder.

The Kang sisters report the site has made more than 20 million matches with 10,000 couples in relationships and about 80 couples engaged or married. As for the turning down Cuban’s offer, they say they have no regrets.

I don’t care about:

  • 20 million matches
  • 10,000 couples in relationships
  • 80 engaged/married couples
  • Mark Cuban’s television posturing

Engagement numbers are where it’s at, not visitor or number of matches, whatever that means (different definition for many sites). What I want to know is how many people have responded to communication requests. Everything else is investor spin.

Somebody call me a doctor. Speaking of spin, my head was spinning when I read about the twenty million matches. Just what does that mean? I assume it means 40 million people have been matched. That’s crazy. Or are they counting people matched multiple times? The lack of any standard metrics in the dating industry is a decade-old problem with no solution in sight. Drives me nuts.

I would have loved to sit in on the investor partner meetings when they dug into the hard-core due diligence. Those guys have balls of steel and need a place to spend their cash, and ding ding ding CMB welcome to being owned by The Money People, best of luck keeping them at bay. If there was more traction I’d be less likely to say that, but CMB has to execute perfectly, otherwise they’re toast, especially since they admitted to at linking up around 30 people a year.

Millions of dollars and 5+ years to strongly connect 160 people. Think about that.

In what other industry can a 0.05% success rate raise $8 million dollars? That’s about the same chances as getting someone to click on a banner ad.

At this point we’ll sit back for the year and watch Hinge and CMB battle it out, at least from the perspective that they have both raised significant amounts of capital and have some overlap in terms of functionality.

I think Hinge will go the way of HowAboutWe. Big buildup, funding, media darlings and then when the hype has settled, reality sets in. Friends matching friends is old hat, and strangely it’s never really worked in the digital space. Sure there are many matches being made across a couple of services, but in the grand scheme of things, barely making a ripple.

Hopefully all of this money will allow Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel to figure things out. That’s a long runway and also a lot of time for competitors to come in with cheaper/better/faster and more effective offerings.

I worked on my first friends-matching-friends service in 2009. That was six years ago. And for all the hype, now all we have is Hinge and CMB, that’s it! Even LikeBright pivoted to anonymous chat, and they were deep into friend-matching.

Just wait until Match unveils a friend-matching app, that’s going to be fun to watch.

Unsecure Android Dating Apps Everywhere

ibm mobile security audit
Dating apps are fun to hack for knowledge and profit. No mention of iOS apps in this IBM story,  but this is not exactly surprising. Dating site apps are so easy to crank out these days, security is an afterthought at most companies.

An analysis conducted by IBM Security found over 60 percent of leading dating mobile apps on Android are potentially vulnerable to a variety of cyber-attacks that put personal user information and corporate data at risk.

The IBM study reveals that many of these dating applications have access to additional features on mobile devices such as the camera, microphone, storage, GPS location and mobile wallet billing information, which in combination with the vulnerabilities may make them exploitable to hackers. IBM also found that nearly 50 percent of organizations have at least one of these employee-installed popular dating apps on mobile devices used to access confidential business information.

The good news is that today’s mobile dating apps are so generic and basic, there’s not much personal information to steal. But in terms of corporate data, have fun hackers. #ismatchthenexttarget

More at IBM Security.

Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

For over a decade I’ve received thousands of press releases regarding Valentine’s Day. Here’s why I’ve stopped posting anything to do with this particular holiday.

Throwing an infographic related to dating on your Quick Loan website and asking me to link to it. Lame.

Anything to do with Tinder. Overdone and boring.

Guest posts of any kind: It’s not 2009 anymore. Fire your marketing person and find someone that knows that they’re doing. Anyone that doesn’t understand that infographics and guest posts are dead doesn’t get mentioned. So do people that argue this point.

Brands cashing in on Valentine’s Day hype that I don’t hear from the other 364 days of the year. Unless you’re sending me a crate of Internet-connected sex toys, don’t bother.

General polls and other stuff that is meaningless, like the amount of chocolate eaten per capita in the US. Really?

You know what I think? The Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day busy season for the dating industry is coming to an end. Dating is a year-around undertaking and people don’t expect to get a date for Valentine’s day anymore.

One way to gauge this is by looking at quarterly ad spend at large dating sites. Maybe someone enterprising will do this when this quarters’ numbers are out.

Dating Industry News Roundup 1-29-15

I wrote When Dating Sites Lie last August when OkCupid got in trouble for manipulating search results and not exactly coming clean to users until after the fact. Jaron Lanier recently discussed whether machine learning systems like Netflix recommendations, Facebook’s newsfeed, Google search etc are manipulative: “There’s no way to tell where the border is between measurement and manipulation.”

New Stanford research finds computers are better judges of personality.

According to Kosinski, the findings reveal that by mining a person’s Facebook “likes,” a computer was able to predict a person’s personality more accurately than most of their friends and family. Only a person’s spouse came close to matching the computer’s results.

Via New Stanford research finds computers are better judges of personality.

The UniformDating Icebreaker is designed to help users to break the ice and have fun, includes a mix of generic chat up lines as well as some tailored to uniformed professionals that they hope users find amusing.

A small Australian-based startup has launched a series of companion apps for Tinder – the most significant of which is called Match Genie. The “killer feature” of Match Genie is that it can (using a statistical analysis method they have devised) show you who on Tinder has actually already like you – meaning you can browse these potential matches at your leisure and instantly match with any that you choose. It also lets you browse profiles without the need to either ‘like’ or ‘reject’ up-front.

A Dating App, Happn, to Find a Match Nearby.

ThinkUp Helps the Social Network User See the Online Self: ThinkUp, a year-old subscription service that analyzes how people comport themselves on Twitter and Facebook, with the goal of helping them become more thoughtful, less reflexive, more empathetic and more professional — over all, better behaved.

Anomo is a new anonymous matching app that can successfully predict the chances of two people carrying on a successful online chat session. Over the past 12 months, we’ve analyzed over 30 million “get-to-know-you” ice breaker questions that people have answered on our app.  These are multiple choice questions like “what color makes you feel the best”.  With this data, we built an algorithm that can predict and match two people.  We are not making crazy claims like being able to predict successful marriages or personality compatibility like eHarmony or Match.com.  We are simply saying that we can predict the likelihood of two individuals having a successful online chat session or not.  The other nice part about our app is that there is no “dating” pressure.  People use our app to initiate friendships and meet new people with common interests.

Why eHarmony is rebuilding itself atop Hadoop.

5 Viewability Findings From Google.

Tacklebox Provides Crowd-Sourced Chat Assistance

The folks at Tacklebox understand how difficult it can be to communicate with potential dates and have come up with an app that crowd-sources responses to those tricky early-days chats.

The premise is simple: upon login, users are brought to a feed of “baits.” Each bait consists of a person’s last response and the context of the situation. Other users can then comment with feedback or potential responses. In order to post a bait, users must also earn points from commenting and earning upvotes, thus enabling monetization potential, gamification, as well as automatic curation (karmic credit economy). Baits are then archived by the author whenever she/he sees fit, and thus unavailable to public viewing except by those who commented, saved, or wrote the prompt. This core set of features allows for passive browsing, shareability, high engagement (push notification of comment), dismissal of the 1% rule, and rapid iteration/adoption.

This is brilliant. A company actually created a service to help people be better daters that goes beyond the usual dating site tips, all of which were written in 2002 and never updated. Color me impressed.

File under #onlinedatingtrainingwheels

More at the Tacklebox blog.

Whitney Wolfe, Other Former Tinder Employees To Launch Direct Competitor Called Bumble

bumble

A bunch of ex-Tinder staff have left to start a competing service. They may or may not have raised several million dollars. This reminds me of the mass staff exodus from JDate who left to start a competing site. That site lasted a year then faded into oblivion.

Whitney Wolfe, an early employee at Tinder who sued the company for sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, has joined up with two other early Tinder employees, Chris Gulczynski and his parnter Sarah Mick (cofounders of YayNext), to launch a direct competitor to Tinder called Bumble, sources tell TechCrunch.

The company, which is officially called Moxco Limited, lists its place of business in London, according to the privacy policy. But you can see from the Instagram accounts of Gulczynski and Mick that the team has been traveling quite a bit. There was a trip to Greece on a private plane, where they stayed in a villa, and then to Paris. Not to mention multiple trips to and from London and Los Angeles.

Sexcapades, lawyers  and private jets, I’d love to meet the people who funded Bumble, they have stomaches made of iron to deal with all of the drama.

There is little chance of this turning out well. Generic app and too many strikes against them already.

I know this in part because they state, “We suggest you read this in conjunction with our brilliant Terms and Conditions of Use.” Who does that? Signs of too cool for school indeed.

Read more at TechCrunch: Whitney Wolfe, Other Former Tinder Employees To Launch Direct Competitor Called Bumble.

Dating App The Grade is Tinder With Report Cards

The Grade dating
SNAP Interactive, creators of Are You Interested, have launched a new dating app called The Grade, which bans “failing singles.”

The Grade, which uses an algorithm to assign letter grades to users ranging from “A+” to “F,” is to create a community of high-quality daters.  By expelling low-quality users who receive an “F” grade, The Grade enables users to have a high-quality experience by viewing potential matches without sifting through hundreds of undesirable, inappropriate, and unresponsive people.

Grades are based on entirely objective criteria and are determined by a sophisticated algorithm that analyzes user behavior based on three categories – popularity, responsiveness, and message quality.  Users must maintain one of the passing dating “grades,” ranging from “A+” to “D,” while users who are undesirable or behave poorly will receive a failing “F” grade, and will be expelled from using the app.  Users are given instructions on how to improve their grades and receive a warning if they fall below a “C” grade.

The popularity grade is based on the quality of a user’s profile and incorporates how often a person is liked on the app.  The response rate grade is based on how often a user responds to messages and gets a response back.  The message quality grade is based on the content of a person’s messages and checks for spelling mistakes, use of slang, and inappropriate words.   The three categories combine to make up a user’s overall grade, which is visible for other users to see.

Dating App The Grade

 

If you are expelled from The Grade, you can appeal the decision.

“Please explain why we should reconsider your membership for The Grade. The Grade is a place for high quality people looking to meet other high quality people.  If your appeal is successfully reviewed, please visit The Grade in  5-7 days and you will be let back in.”

I’d gather that expelled people are pushed to a person somewhere like the Phillipines who then reviews their appeal, and decides whether or not to let them back on the service.

I have to say, I was not impressed that the Appeal process was driven by a mailto: link. Kind of killed the excitement of being banned and trying to get back on.

The Grade is basically Tinder with a report card. I like the direction they went in, but I think there needs to be more transparency into their algorithm that analyzes user popularity, responsiveness, and message quality. Give it a shot and let us know what you think in the comments.