Online Dating Industry News 8-10-12

Welcome Back Dr. Warren
The founder and chairman of eHarmony, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, is returning to the job of CEO! Its been years since we were graced with Dr. Warren’s presence on late-night tv, lets see what he can accomplish after ousting Jeremy Verba, the former Zynga exec who was named CEO a year ago. The new guy probably couldn’t bring in enough revenue so they bring back good old trustworthy Dr. Warren. I bet he tried to turn eHarmony into Farmville to get users clicking “Level Up” buttons like on Badoo, people said “whaaaat?” and they bounced him. I for one am looking forward to seeing more Good Old Grandpa commercials.

True dating service adTrue.com Bankrupt and Owes $100M: True.com has filed chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in Texas Federal Court. According to the filings it owes up to $100M to creditors in amounts from $1M to $10M. One can only assume that this includes several CPA Affiliate networks and publishers, many who had already entered into payment agreements with True.com after they failed to pay their bills. According to the filing, there are at least 255 non-insider secured creditors owed, most of them unlikely to be paid what is owed, since the secure creditors, including the founder are owed as much a $61.5 Million. Via Pace Latin.

This is a fitting end to a site that represented everything that is wrong with the online dating industry, from unsavory billing practices to bait and switch advertising to outright lies about their criminal screening.

However, their legislative efforts were a brilliant marketing ploy, and as it turns out, True.com may go up in flames, but their dating site safety legislative efforts live on.

This week a woman claimed that Match.com had tried to pair her with James Holms, the man accused of killing 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Here’s his profile and the scoop at TMZ. Just now I received an email from someone pointing me to a murder-suicide that may have started on OkCupid. Terribly sad all around, my heart goes out to the victims and their families.

FriendFinder bought a daily deals site for $4.3 million, crashed it and sold it back to the original owner for $1. Ouch.

POF has been busy fishing for more revenue. A couple of new sites, a deal of the day site, and now they are selling sex toys as part of a $34.95 a month subscription. No word yet if POF plans on offering medical marijuana in states where its legal.

But why pay for your toys? New York City has just reversed its decision barring Trojan from giving away vibrators. Thousands of people showed up to the Meatpacking district yesterday to pick a vibrator from the Trojan Pleasure Cart. And yes, batteries were included.

Did anyone make it to the OkCupid Labs Tech Talk featuring Sam Yagan, Founder of OkCupid?

SNAP Interactive, makers of Are You Interested, have been pumping large amounts of cash into product development and marketing as they start focusing on social discovery. They realized that casual discovery is a much larger business opportunity than pure-play dating and are pivoting the company as such. Read the 10-Q to see the flattened growth, the huge ad spend increase, running at a loss, etc. All well within range and not into “Uh-oh” territory. These are finance people running a dating site, I’m sure they are keeping an eye on things so as to avoid negatively affecting share price. Lets give them a year to figure out matching on Facebook data and see what the numbers are like next summer.

SNAP defines social discovery as basically leveraging Facebook data to help in the matching process. I define social discovery as meeting people through your friends. Truth is, the definition is a bit of both. Many dating sites are finally starting to do decent data-mining with Facebook data. Simply more data to match on and we have been talking about this for years. I’m waiting to read about the results (tapping foot).

Zoosk as well is now some sort of social/relationship site. I signed back in again this week and couldn’t really see any difference except that it feels more like Badoo. The dating industry, both casual and serious, needs to work harder at paid discovery features. The current crop of apps is basically useless. Paying good money to have a little thumbnail show up at the top of the page just doesn’t do it for me. People pay out the nose for these features though, so there’s that. POWER UP FOR LOVE, ONLY $9.99, CLICK HERE NOW! Sigh.

I want to see paid features that lead to serious interest from targeted people. Full stop.

Last I hears Badoo was doing $150 million in revenue, how long can they keep that up? Most dating sites run at losses ranging from a few million to $100 million to grow quicky (See SNAP, see True, see FriendFinder, see lots of dating sites who keep their financials private.)

The problem with most of these sites is that they overspend to grow, which is fine, and then never figure out how to reduce that negative load over time and end up in a deep hole with no way out.

Little black bar dating notes

Great idea, Little Black Bar is an annotation service for Chrome browser that works with POF, OkCupid and Match. Leave comments about people and read what others have said about them. Install is kludgy but I’d imagine that they will sort that out soon enough.

Look at me, no LOOK AT ME!. Cornell University researchers have confirmed that sexual orientation can be revealed by one’s pupil dilation when viewing attractive people. In the experiment, they found that pupils widened most to videos of people who participants found attractive, thereby revealing where they were on the sexual spectrum from heterosexual to homosexual.

Huntcha is a successful social dating service in Chile thats making inroads into the US. The service helps you discover who your secret love is without the risk of rejection. Huntcha pairs someone with people they already know on Facebook. It allows a user to anonymously express a love interest for another without the embarrassment. Only when you’ve both expressed interest in one another will Huntcha privately reveal a love connection. Huntcha’s mobile app also identifies Huntcha users in proximity to each other, say at a party or nightclub, and through photo identification two people can express an interest and be notified that the feeling is mutual.

music bunk

With MusicBunk, a free iPhone and Android app. you can invite anyone to be your “bunkmate” and once they’ve accepted, you can browse their entire mobile music collection. Is she a Barry Manilow fan? Does he own every Black Eyed Peas song? Have a playlist titled “Cry myself to sleep”? Does your romantic interest’s music taste leave them “not fit for public consumption,” or does it resonate with your excellent music taste? Find out with MusicBunk.

FindBetterLove is designed for individuals who are ready to make a commitment and tired of playing the “dating game” – people ready for something special. Creating a site and saying its for serious singles is fine, but unless it has the features that serious daters want, its just another dating site. Adding video, audio chat and blogs is not enough. How are they going to filter out casual daters? As with any new dating site, an enormous advertising budget on Google and Facebook is the only way to reach serious singles, hope they have deep pockets.

IvyDate invites Online Dating Insider readers to a 2-week complimentary membership, invitation is code ivylove0813.