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Startups Nipping at Dating Site Achilles Heel

Upgraded the blog last night, new templates and some functionality added. Now you can see my bookmarks for dating-related stuff I come across during the day.

To date, no dating site has gotten close to offering a comprehensive suite of functionality that pushes dating to the next level.

  • Reputation management
  • Image search
  • General search
  • Profile help/coaching
  • Introduction facilitation
  • On-site activities like games and speed dating

It’s interesting to watch the current gaggle of startups trying to push their way into the dating space. These sites are smart to focus on functionality and service instead of creating a new community around their technology.

I’ve starting writing more about companies such as Eyealike, LoveDetect, WooMe and SpeedDate. [Disclaimer, some companies are clients.]

eyealikeToday I’ll talk about Eyealike. Great concept, something I’ve been pushing for for a long time. Eyealike was started by Gary Heuss, who spent time as an executive at Kiss.com and PerfectMatch.

My idea was always to start out with a 6×6 matrix of faces based on your preferences and then reshuffling the thumbnails based on which people you click. Eyealike is kind of like that. It’s a novel way to refine the laborious search process, but only if the technology behind the system actually works.

I met with a company recently that is considering rolling out something similar. Let’s the business development battles begin. My algorithm is better than yours.

Will people use the feature? Will it be truly useful? Searching for women that look like Scarlett Johansson returned a lot of photos of women that look nothing like her, but the services is beta after all.

Will Eyealike add significantly to dating sites revenue? Probably not. Most likely the big deals will be for advertising-driven revenue from social networks.

Most companies trying to sell their stuff into the dating space have a backup plan in case things don’t work out. Going after pedophiles on Myspace makes sense for Eyealike as a business model. There is money to be made there.

I’m playing around with the celebrity matching feature. Great traffic driver for destination sites, although it’s a one trick pony. Better for social networks. Nobody is going to pay an extra $4.99 a month to see if they look like Brad Pitt. Match will never add this to there endless upsell page during the signup process.

The downside is that it’s hard enough to get a date, now I have to look like Brad Pitt?

I would like to know how the image search system interfaces with dating sites. Eyealike is currently scraping 250,000 images from dating sites, including Match and American Singles. The devil is in the details. Dating sites don’t have the openness that social networks do, unless you count Engage and eTwine, which makes it more difficult to share data with partners.

Although Yahoo, with it’s new Personal’s platform, is probably in a better place than any other site to take advantage of the new openness we’re seeing in the social networking space. They use the new API’s to connect with existing dating partners, something most people probably don’t know.

Seattle PI has a writeup of Eyealike. Go check out the service and let us know what you think in the comments.

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