I met Markus Frind, owner of PlentyofFish, at iDate. Markus is quite open about his plans for the industry, which refreshing after listening to various dating executives duck and weave the difficult questions during the final Octoberfest-style executive panel.

Be very, very afraid of Markus. He’s made more money each month running dating site affiliate programs than many dating sites make a year. via Google Adwords and Overture than many dating sites make a year.

He’s technically savvy, with a deep understanding of the black art of SEO and other marketing tricks. He will steal your Google/Overture traffice before you have a chance to hire Hitwise to figure out where your traffic went. Remember how you felt listening to Scott Butler at iDate? Markus is like that. At first he comes across as a know-it-all, which can be maddening. Plentyoffish, free service, couple hundred thousand profiles, whatever. Then he starts to throw out figures, the kind that make the competition shudder. Markus has the tough skin and the right kind of hubris to believe that he can be a top-ten player in the online dating industry. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, as many of you know, and only time will tell, but things are looking up for him and his upstart service.

Markus was nice enough to go on the record with the following. I think you’ll be surprise at what he has to say:

Plentyoffish.com is a completely free online dating service, last time this year we had ~30,000 members right now we have over 385,000 members and growth is still accelerating. So far the growth has posed no problems to the site performance as I’ve designed plentyoffish in such a way that it requires next to no resources to run. Excluding listening fees for the Instant messenger all operating costs (including cost of all hardware) for last year averaged well under 5 grand/month. I think plentyoffish will have a impact on the world of online dating in 2005, as i fully intend to keep plentyoffish free and convert the entire industry to a free model.

His dating forums get 150k posts a month. Yesterday he served 2 million pages views in 24 hours for the first time. Userplane has deployed their A/V communications tools at PlentyofFish. Supposedly PoF is their largest customer. one of their largest customers.

Keep an eye out for Markus and PlentyofFish. 2005 is going to be a big year for them both.