Go to

Zoosk, the world’s largest social dating community, today announced it has closed a $30 million Series D round of funding. The Series D funding round brings Zoosk’s total financing to $40.5 million. The round was led by new investor Bessemer Venture Partners, the oldest venture capital firm in the United States. Existing investors Canaan Partners and ATA Ventures also participated. As part of the funding event, David Cowan, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, joins Zoosk’s Board of Directors.

The funds will support the company’s rapidly growing user base, continued global expansion, marketing activities in key geographies, and investments in new features and applications.

A social dating site raising this level of capital in the current economic climate is a tremendous indicator that the social dating space is energized, growing fast and here to stay.

I’ve stayed in touch with Zoosk and have watched the the company grow by leaps and bounds ever since they launched on Facebook several years ago. Congrats to Alex, Shayan and the rest of the team. Talk about a wild ride.

Phase 1 of Zoosk is now ready to be a case study. The power of the the social graph and viral marketing to lower customer acquisition costs for dating sites significantly has been proven. I can’t wait to see what sort of partnerships, deals and expansion Zoosk embarks on in coming months.

Zoosk and Are You Interested were the first companies to take dating to social networks. Back then, it was much easier to attract more users as they figured out the art of viral loops and the social graph.

Much smaller in size, Thread, Gelato, Are You Interested and the rest of the competition are variations on social dating, each with their own unique value proposition. Their primary challenge is that Facebook has made it more difficult to “go viral”. They can’t get away with the wild west early days of Facebook, where sites could do just about anything to get traffic (ask for forgiveness later.)

To the 20 other companies trying to build a dating site on top of Facebook, remember, less is more. Complicated matching algorithms are great for serious dating, but on social networks, casual dating rules, at least for the time being. The only service I’ve seen that tries to do serious matching on social networks is MatchMatrix, which needs a huge marketing push to get any sort of reasonable traction.

I would expect further investment in the space to occur as investor interest grows and they start funding clones and me-too services.