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Zoosk, The X-Multiplier and Social Networks

zoosklogo.jpg Facebook dating applications (1,414 and counting) are starting to get some serious traction. Recently week I spoke with Alex Mehr, who, along with Shayan Ghazizadeh and two developers, launched Zoosk, a popular dating application on Facebook. Zoosk was funded by Amidzad, which also funds Plugplaycenter, a technology startup incubator for over 100 companies in Silicon Valley.

Zoosk is a platform agnostic dating application that leverages the social graph to facilitate the dating experience.

Platform agnostic: Runs as an application, widget, embedded feature, etc. The actual application runs on Zoosk servers and is embedded, via various technologies, inside social networks.

Social graph: The global mapping of everybody and how they’re related.

After launching on December 21, 2007, Zoosk boasts 1.8 million installs, with daily traffic ranging in the neighborhood of 200,000 users and 2.5M uniques per month.

The company launched on Bebo on March 2nd. 1,433 users at the moment. The adoption rate at Bebo is much slower than on Facebook.

The Myspace launch was a few days ago. I spent far too long looking for the Zoosk application in the main menu or the menu on my logged-in home page. Turns out it’s here. Myspace applications are still in beta. Most viral growth mechanisms have not been released yet – such as invites, access to newsfeed, etc.

fbdatingapps.jpgZoosk is strongest on Facebook. For those of you keeping tabs on dating site growth on social networks, Appsaholic is like Comscore or Compete for Facebook applications. Appsaholic was created by Social Media. I’m not aware of a version of Appsaholic for Myspace or Bebo.

At first, I had a hard time differentiating Zoosk from Are You Interested, which boasts twice the traffic. User’s won’t notice much difference either, the applications are HotorNot clones with search parameters so you can find people near you built on top of the members of participating social networks. Later on we’ll talk about search aggregation across multiple social networks.

It’s when you start to listen to the plans Alex and the team has for Zoosk, that’s when my brain started to ache and that uncontrollable smile crept across my face, and stayed there.

Before reading on, check out this New York Times article, Piggybacking on Facebook. Talks about a Zoosk competitor funneling 2,000 members a day to a dating site, good background information before we dive into just what makes Facebook such a viral monster.

In order to understand how and why dating sites, or any site or that matter, should be paying attention to the viral nature of social networking, I’m going to outline some of the key features of viral marketing as they relate to social networks.

What is “Going Viral?”

Viral marketing is a lot more involved and complicated than throwing a video up on YouTube. You can hit your brother over the head with a frying pan and get a million views on videosharing sites.

Going viral on social networks begins with users add applications. I may not know about application NextBigThing, but when I visit your Facebook page, I see all sorts of “breadcrumbs” left by the application in your newsfeed and elsewhere. Applications are hardwired to create byproducts like notifications and newsfeed items as users use them.

This leads us to an important definition. According to Zoosk, X-Multiplier is defined as:

The number of new users that are gained as a direct result of activities of an existing users. In other words, let’s say you acquire one customer who, during her lifetime, on average sends out 5 invites to friends and generates 200 newsfeed items. Let’s say the conversation rate of an invitation to a friend is 8% and the conversation rate of a newsfeed item is 0.1%. Then for this one user that you gained, you will acquire:

5*8%+200*0.1%= 0.6 new users

If X-multiplier goes above one (i.e. you get more than one new customer for each customer that you get), the application experiences hyper-growth (exponential growth.) If X-Multiplier is less than one like the above example, the application grows slowly and linearly.

Our holy grail is to optimize the application to achieve an X-multiplier of above 1 and stay there for as long as possible.

To give you an example of one of our hypergrowth periods, on January 2, 2008 we achieved an x-multiplier of over 1. Our user base grew from 707,000 total installs at 12:01 AM on January 2nd to 896,000 users at 12:01 AM on January 4th (around 200K in 48 hours). The X-multiplier dropped below 1 on Friday January 4th and that particular hyper-growth period ended. In general, conversation rates are lower on Friday through Sunday. So on January 4th, because it was a Friday, growth slowed down and x-multiplier dropped below 1.

Keeping the X-multiplier above 1 is the holy grail. Application developers have to rely on the somewhat problematic Facebook application API, which leads to all sorts of unforeseen issues. Given a set of ways your application can interact with user data, what else can a developer to do aim for the <1 X-multiplier? That’s where things start to get interesting. There are a lot of very smart people working on that problem right now. Some of these people are going to become incredibly rich.

Now, what do do with all these users? It helps to think of a funnel. At the top (the wide part), is FB, Myspace and Bebo. The middle are the graduated subscription tiers. At the bottom are the serious singles. With this model, Zoosk can offer something for everyone.

Match is going in this direction, but they jumped right to the pay-to-communicate model. This was a mistake and is why Little Black Book has 27 users. Talk about a missed opportunity. Match can save face, but they have a lot of strategizing to do if they want to move past T&A advertising on social networks and truly benefit from the power of effective, inexpensive viral marketing on social networks. I’ve talked to some of the people involved with the application and I hope to continue the conversation.

Zoosk, unlike Match, started out a simple application, there’s not much to do but click through people. Threw it up, saw what sticked and canned what didn’t. 200,000 daily users vs. 27, just sayin’. Advanced filtering and features are promised in the future and Zoosk is testing fee-based subscriptions.

I have no doubt in my mind that at some point people will pay to bridge the gap between social networks and paid dating sites. Who’s going to win that game is anyone’s guess at this time. It sure is fun to watch though.

Think about Zoosk running on all popular social networks, as well as parter sites and their own destination site. A platform agnostic transparent communication system where people email/wink back and forth, never knowing that other person is on a different social network. A dating service, (née site) that doesn’t have a specific destination, distributed across the Internet. That’s the holy grail of a true open online dating platform.

Of course there are many issues to surmount, and there is nothing stopping other companies like Are You Interested from following Zoosk down this path, but something in my guy tells me these guys have the whole social net viral thing figured out as much, if not more than anyone else in the space.

The idea of aligning with a particular dating brand is going to seem positively antiquated in a few years. Match and eHarmony will continue to spend $120M+ on marketing every year, and smart upstarts will leverage social networks for cheap traffic.

Something tells me that people are more open to checking out new upstarts in the dating space via social networks than older more established brands. It’s just a gut feeling mind you, and I don’t have any evidence to support this, but it’s still a strong feeling.

Now that Mate1 and SinglesNet have ad-spammed us to death, a new company will pop up and replace them at the top of the traffic list any time now. I like that term ad-spam.

Ponder this: What happens when social networks start asking for a cut of the subscription fees dating sites are getting?

In the future, people will be able to export social graph to That’s going to be incredible. Not that you want to date your friends, but you want to date their friends. Tie in some reputation management tools and you start to have a meta-dating system that blows away anything we’re using today.

As I said, there is not a lot to Zoosk. A few concerns I have:

The flirt options are terrible, glad there is an “other” option where you can type in your own text.

When you are flirting, you can’t get back to the person’s main profile page in the application. either you wink or flirt or they are gone forever, or at least until you cycle around to their photo again.

The Super Flirt feature lets you buy the person a virtual gift. Prices range from free to $1.00 for everything from handcuffs to roses to a beer or boxers. “Hi, I just met you, here is a picture of a pair of boxer shorts.” Weird, but then again I’m old.

I can’t stand that I have to click a link to see the person’s entire profile. but then again, it’s another opportunity to “share” an obnoxious and useless ad with users. I would gladly pay $50 a year to Facebook to get rid of all the ads. Thankfully, I found a cheaper way with Faceoff or this or this one, which can basically strip a Facebook page down to the essentials.

With Zoosk, I’m not sure if I am winking multiple times at the same person. Are they getting bombarded with winks or is only the first one going through? Simple feedback here would be helpful. Again, the application is bare-bones at this point and the profile fields are scarce. Uh Oh, I went to my Zoosk Box, which the rest of the world would call the inbox, and see that I winked at someone four times. Like she is every going to flirt back at this point. Talk about a squandered opportunity.

Luckily the rotation feature doesn’t work very well, so it’s easy enough to see the same people over and over again. Either something is broken or they are doing the repetitive thing for a reason.

Here is some interesting information Zoosk has learned, and continues to learn, about conversions and usage on Facebook. More conversions on Monday vs. Saturdays. Sometimes they don’t know what’s happening. Numbers spike and drop, but what’s the cause? They have a ton of sensors tied to metrics to evaluate value and help with optimization.

Zoosk changes the user user workflow depending on the day of the week. User workflow is the pathway and pages a user takes to use an application. Sometimes they try to add more “invite users” pages to workflow to see what happens. Experimentation is key. I’d love to see the output of that dashboard, so much uncharted territory here and you live and die by your stats and metrics.

Overall, I’m underwhelmed by Zoosk from a user experience standpoint. There are plenty of other applications that do the same thing, with many more people. Zoosk has a chance to be a real game-changer, thats for sure.

Just think, it took years for PlentyOfFish to get 2.5 million visitors a month. Zoosk got 200,000 in only two months.

Leveraging social networks is the cheapest way to build out a dating site from zero members. Keep up with what’s happening at the Zoosk blog. Make sure your Google Alerts and newsreader are tuned into companies like Zoosk and track them with Appsaholic. Over time, trends will start to emerge and we’ll have a better sense of just how effective social networks are for driving traffic. Then we can discuss how my definition of quality traffic probably differs from yours.

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  1. luis delfin sastre says:

    conocer chavas de mexico asta los 30 años

  2. I got hustled out of alot of money by a guy who lied on Zoosk , i have emailed Zoosk twice to tell themincase other women we abused also they senr a quick automated email saying they would get back to me and they never have , im disgusted and could soon be ho,less with my son

  3. Melissa,

    One of our support staff contacted you to get more information a few minutes ago. Please respond to that email and help us investigate this issue.

    Thanks for bringing this problem to our attention,
    The Zoosk Support Team

  4. Suzanne De-La-Fay says:

    I’m really random i like 2 have a time and a good laugh in fact im always up 4 a good laugh

  5. Suzanne De-La-Fay says:

    I’ always up for a good laugh

  6. Suzanne De-La-Fay says:

    I’m always up for a good

  7. does a person have to be a premium member to reply to flirts?
    because i am not a premium member but i can reply to flirts.

  8. I used to like zoosk, but seems as though they have done what everyone else seems to do gotten greedy and added this premium bull shit, facebook, myspace, bebo they are all free the apps shouldnt cost money to use fk off

  9. Keith Smith says:


    They take your money and do not give you the service they advertise.

    I paid for Premium membership but other members still could not send me messages which is one of the advantages stated on their website.

    Emailing Zoosk support is futile – they never reply. And they even delete your complaints in their own community forums.

  10. Hi Keith: Once you become a premium member, you can freely contact and be contacted by other members. If you think there is an issue specific to your account, please email our support team. I actually searched for your name in our support database and I couldn’t find any emails from you. Perhaps for whatever reason we didn’t receive your email? Please email our support again and I’ll personally look at your account.


  11. Keith Smith says:

    Alex – thanks for the reply.

    I sent 2 messages to Zoosk support. And no reply. I have cancelled my subscription now. I am not paying for a service that I dont receive!


  12. Keith, sorry to hear. If at any point in the futre you wish to try us out again, simply drop a line to support and put my name in the subject line. Our support staff will forward your email to me. I can offer you free premium subscription to make up for the inconvenience. Thanks.


  14. Dale Maria DiPalo says:

    It is unfortunate that when a pop up on my screen came up and read you have a message, I foolishly clicked thinking it may be importance such as due to the health of a family member. I never in my wild dreams expected to find a charge on my bank statement. I never willingly subscribed and informed you of this error last weekend. I am not in good health or a wealthy person for that matter and certainly not a fool. I want this charge removed immedately. Please let me know as soon as possible how long it will take til my money is credited back. Now I will say back around Nov. of 08 there was a 3 day special for zoosk to try it out. After 2 days I informrd the company I had no interest and thought that would be the end. This will never happen again as now after you reverse the credit I will have to take action my bank notified me for my protection. So please get my money back in my account asap as quick as you illegally helped yourself to it. I will have much better feelings about you if this matter is dealt with fairly.

  15. I wish to complain about zoosk dating as I have vever subcribed to you people and keep receiving pop ups about personal matches which is really ruining my relationship with my partner.If this problem continues I will take this complaint higher Regards Lee-Anne Burton

  16. tyler goodwin says:

    my friend subscribed to you when i wasn’t with him on my computer and if your charging me money then there is a problem cuz you guys when on facebook or myspace or anywhere yours or some other virus or website always pops up and people who are new or were knew like me to facebook didnt know what your site does and im only 17 so you should know im being honest. I’m worried about college”s and a lot of them are e-mailing me but whenever i check my e-mail you send an e-mail telling me im missing a zoosk photo? what the hell is that? you guys better delete and remove my account and tell me its deleted or something bad will happen to your site or your jobs and this will also happen if i see one more zoosk e-mail

  17. Anthony DeLoach says:

    You helped me a lot in online dating. Thank you very much.

  18. Jeff Erdahl says:

    I cancelled my zoosks and I’m still being charged to my credit card. would you please correct my account and refund my credit card.

  19. Jeff Erdahl says:

    I cancelled my zoosks account and I’m still being charged to my credit card. Would you please correct and credit my account. Thank you

  20. i sent an email asking to cancel my subscription after october because of now income comming in,but it was not cancelled and caused an overdraft to my account,can some one please contact me so it can be resolved,have sent emails an have not got a response

  21. DEAD ROCK STAR says:


  22. So I was using zooks… didnt want to pay anything till I tried it out and you get free coins if you keep logging on every day… this is a slow process unless u have many friends all on zoosk (and to be honest do you think I want my friends on facebook to know im looking for a date on the net? NO I DONT… ffs).

    Anyway… so seen someone I liked, kept logging on aiming for the 60 coins I’d need. Then today saw I got 58 and thought oooh this ll be good try it out, ill need to write something good.

    I clicked email just out of curosity and suddenly I need 90 coins… not 60. What a total F K I N G con! Really pissed off wit them now and will delete my profile etc.

    Have no words to describe how lame that is and disingenious.

  23. “Lee-Anne April 20, 2009 at 12:33 am
    I wish to complain about zoosk dating as I have vever subcribed to you people and keep receiving pop ups about personal matches which is really ruining my relationship with my partner.If this problem continues I will take this complaint higher Regards Lee-Anne Burton”

    Id love to know she she is going to take this complaint to? ‘Higher’ LOL… made me laugh my ass off.

  24. Susan Galipeau says:

    I just got my credit card bill and I was charged $119.88 and when I signed up for what I thought was only signing up for 1 month for 29.98 something of that sort but not 119.88. I had no luck with your service and I don’t want to pay this bill. If I don’t see a correction to my account I will go through the steps to take care of this with an outside source. By looks of things there are many other unhappy people with your business ethics. Please respond to this matter immediately. Sincerely Susan Galipeau

  25. Dating, Social Network, Web Messenger, Video Chat, Online Games, Videos, Mp3

  26. Susan Galipeau says:

    This zoosk is a big joke 4 e-mails and no return answer. What you guys going to do when you get caught? I hope everyone you’ve scammed sues you.

    Is there anyone else out there that got screwed by this service and your pissed and you want to join my war. I will check this comment screen for anyone who wants to tell me about their trouble. I’m currently working on reporting zoosk.. They don’t want to answer us, well maybe they’ll answer to a higher authority.

    Susan Galipeau

  27. Michael Swartwood says:

    I signed up for the service yesterday for the first time. I chose the one month subscription for $29 and was billed $119 for the entire year subscription. I tried to contact you over the phone immediatly only to find that you cant talk to anyone, you cant even leave a message. Now this sucks, you stole $90 dollars from me, yes taking money that wasnt authorized is stealing. You can claim computer glitch or whatever, but the honest thing to do would be to refund the $90 back to me. I cancelled my subscription immediatly after noticing the mistake so that I wouldnt be accused of just trying to get my money back. I would greatly appreciate a response, I have sent 2 customer support emails with no response. Next step is filing an investigation with my bank, but I dont want to have to go that route, just refund the money and i’ll be happy.
    Thank you, Mike


  28. Michael please contact Zoosk by going to and clicking on the “Contact” link located there. This is a news article about Zoosk. It is not Zoosk owned web page.

  29. I have had the app for about a year through myspace. I use it infrequently and prefer to make contact on my own rather than having a picture up. I’ve looked at my own profile through the ‘my profile’ link to check spelling etc and the picture there was the generic ‘no picture’.

    What they DON’T tell you when you sign up through either myspace or facebook is that they USE your picture from that site as a default picture. Your profile will look to you as not having a picture but to everyone else it’s your other site picture. I only found out about this when someone teased me about being on the site as they saw my picture there and when I went to the ‘help’ section they tell you there.

    I simply couldn’t believe they did that; I thought I was misreading it. So i made a different profile in order to have my original one show up in the new profile’s search results (yes, that’s kind of cheesy) and low and behold, there’s my myspace picture. I really think that most people are unaware that as a standard zoosk does this. I read the terms of use/service pretty carefully when I sign up some where and did so with the new temporary profile I made today…there’s not a thing in there about them automatically using the profile picture of the originating site. They’re pretty lucky they’ve never been sued. Needless to say I uploaded a generic picture while deciding how I want to handle this.

  30. Zoosk is beyond a joke. I’ve emailed their customer support several times….and never EVER receive a reply. Quite often I’ve got a message saying that they can’t answer my question because I’m “not a premium member”. WTF?!! How the hell am I supposed to enquire about their product (before I decide to buy it) if they won’t answer some simple questions about it?!! Also, Zoosk Messenger is a joke – I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve tried to download the damned thing, only to get a message saying that error “2032” has occurred. “If the problem persists, contact the application author”. Well, I CAN’T – because you DON’T ANSWER MY EMAILS because I’m not a premium member!!!!! How the hell do Zoosk expect me to trust their service and part with my hard-earned cash, when their Customer Service is highly dubious and suspicious. I also wanted to know that (once I’d subscribed) can the person I’ve written to read my message…..or do they have to become a subscriber too?? If so, it’s just a waste of my money. Once again, they never replied. I’m going to email this message to Zoosk again in a minute (one last try), and if I don’t get a reply I’m going to set up a Facebook group called “Zoosk is a rip-off and a total joke” – and may even begin enquiring about legal action against them (on behalf of the public).

  31. I am really pissed… I found a charge on my credit card for zoosk .. I never subscribed for anything and WANT my money back. They haven ‘t responsed to any of my emails and I just want to get my name and money BACK!!!!!

  32. i deleted zoosk but its still on myyahoo messenger and i never put it on how do i remove it plz help

  33. I too am some pissed off! I signed up both my sister and I on Zoosk . She got the premium I got the shaft! I am being charged Monthly on my credit card her service. I have emailed them 4 times about this mess and like everyone else have gotten the automated reply. I want to talk to someone personally about this. It is a frigging joke. And to top it all off I tried to Sign up again to see what would happen and they tell me my Discover card is “black Listed ” whatever the hell that means! I use it everyday everywhere else. Is this the method that they use to continue charging ones card? Saying it is blacklisted ..I see what they are doing as a crime and should be made to pay the price. I am on board if anyone wants me to stand up to them with them…

  34. I am a former Zoosker who has received a complete refund of my membership monies paid and released from my membership. A business decision on their part, left me unsatified with Zoosk after being a member for over 2 months and when the found they could do nothing to satisify my complaint, they refunded my entire membership monies not a pro-rated amount as most businesses do. I may be the only one, but I have found Zoosk to be a company that cares about customer service who has gone above and beyond when they were faced with my dissatisfaction. To me Zoosk is not that bad or a rip off!!

  35. how do i remove the automated messages that are sent when people wink at me? :Thanks for the wink. Unfortunately, I don’t respond to winks. If you’re really interested, please take a look at my profile and send me a more detailed message.” i need this removed. im unsubscribed also.

  36. when i turn onmy computer the fist thing that comes on thescreen is zoosk, how do i get it to stop? please some one help me i m 59 and very new at the computer game,thank you.

  37. Like I’m qualified to help… but here goes. I take it you are done with Zoosk and no longer want it coming up every time you sign on??? When you joined, you downloaded their programming so that you could use the site. If you have closed, deactivated your zoosk account.. you need to remove the Zoosk Program you previously downloaded to chat, use messenger, etc. Not knowing what computer system you are using.. I suggest search by typing in your computer info i.e. Mac / Dell Windows vista i.e. remove downloaded program and then just follow the website instructions. Sorry I am not a computer whizard. Gave birth to them so I let them take care of my technical problems. Hope this solves your Zoosk annoyance.

  38. I have tried downloading ZOOSK messenger over and over and over and over..etc
    And it does NOTHING. It just keeps saying Ìnstalling…`
    I don`t know if it is the browser I am usingÉ (firefox) or that this Zoosk site is shit.
    By the look of all these complaints, I guess it`s safe to say the techs on this site are morons of the high degree.
    I`m just going to remove my account, as I`m losing patience trying to download the messenger………………Newfie

  39. If you’re tired of traditional dating and matchmaking website, you should try a social meeting network where respect, fun and security are the master words. Managed by a team of 10 psycologists, and elaborated on scientific grounds, aims at get people to go beyond first contact.

    the concept of social meeting network is totally new : it gather social network, matchmaking and affinity matching of partners over specific thematics (for example : you want a partner not for love but to go to cinema, parties, and so on : goodwizz is for you) games, coaching, meeting places suggestion and other meeting management services.

    This is the new trend for dating and matchmaking websites : community and experts lead, with many meeting management services, coaching, games for a better interaction. they also organize diners and parties for singles.

  40. Don’t sign up for this site! They are falsely advertising rates on the first page. The next page they harvest your credit card information and the last page they hit you with extortionate Fees. Nothing new here, the old bait and switch used to collect your credit card information. At the end even, if you cancel they have your info. Next you’ll have an identity left problem. Which Russian crime family is running this scam? After I cancel my current Visa card(a costly pain), I’ll be off to the NYS Attorney General’s office to generate some billable hours. The rest of you really need to re-consider whether you wish to do business with Yuppie gangsters.

  41. …Zoosk are a bunch of deceptive parasites…even those who pay are denied access to those who refuse to pay…it simply means that they aren’t getting their moneys worth, zoosk is set up so that people who pay for the service end up wondering why-after a msg or two with someone they’re interested in-the person just stops responding, leaving those who pay completely clueless to the fact that it’s because ZOOSK is blocking the messages from the non-paying member. WTF?


  1. […] david is writing about Zoosk and are you interested saying they are the next big thing because they have so many […]

  2. | Zoosk, The X-Multiplier And Social Networks says:

    […] ONLINE DATING POST — Apr 1 — Leveraging social networks is the cheapest way to build out a dating site from zero members. Facebook dating application Zoosk boasts 1.8M installs, with daily traffic ranging in the neighborhood of 200,000 users and 2.5M uniques per month after launching on December 21, 2007. The company launched on Bebo on March 2nd. 1,433 users at the moment. The MySpace launch was a few days ago. FULL ARTICLE @ ONLINE DATING POST […]

  3. […] david is writing about Zoosk and are you interested saying they are the next big thing because they have so many […]

  4. Encuentrosenred Blog » Blog Archive » Como ganar dinero con los sitios de encuentros? says:

    […] david esta escribiendo sobre Zoosk que dice que va a ser algo grande porque tiene muchos  “usuarios”. Seguramente que estas […]

  5. […] thousands of dating applications on Facebook. I’ve written about two of the most successful, Zoosk ($6 million raised) and Are You Interested (partnered with Match) many times. I like the companies, […]

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