Romancing the single surfer.
Finding one’s soulmate has never been a simple endeavor, but with the Internet, it may have gotten a little bit easier and a lot more wired. Those surfing to Dallas-based Match.com find that romance is sometimes just a few clicks away. Company president Tim Sullivan talks about online dating, cultural norms, and of course, love among the circuits.
How did Match.com get started?
Back in 1994, a small team of people had a fantastic idea about creating an online classifieds business and built an application to do this, envisioning using it for jobs, autos, rentals, and personals. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the application, they elected to first build out the personals product, which quickly surpassed early expectations regarding consumer acceptance. Singles loved what Match.com could do for their dating life, which was to provide fast, fun, efficient, and affordable romantic opportunity–more opportunity then they saw in their day-to-day, offline lives.
Are there reasons why the Internet is particularly attractive to people trying to meet their match?
Because it works, and for many it works profoundly better than other alternatives. There really isn’t a comparable dating experience out there. There are upwards of 85 million single adults in the United States, and while certainly that must mean there is someone for everyone, it’s gotten more and more difficult to casually bump into each other in the course of our very busy, complicated day-to-day lives. Online dating is the better mouse trap, as it provides single people with the one thing they seem to lack these days–access to each other. And we can deliver that access in a manner that is a lot of fun, convenient, and very efficient.
What are some of the challenges you encounter in providing this service?
One interesting challenge we’re facing right now involves understanding the complex needs and beliefs of singles around the world, as we’ve recently launched 25 international sites. While the desire to connect with someone is a universal one, there are cultural nuances that influence the manner in which singles date and the attitudes and beliefs they have about using an online dating service. The learning curve can be very steep at times, as we grow this business in numerous directions simultaneously.
What other kinds of expansion efforts are you doing to build the company?
We launched two new companies this year. MatchTravel.com is a travel business catering to singles, and MatchLive.com is an events business for singles. So we’re moving in a direction that allows us to provide numerous services and broadly expand what we can offer.
Do you think that people are less shy about using online dating than they used to be?
These days the stigma associated with online dating is fading and many of our members encourage other singles in their lives to try Match.com. More than 5,000 members leave the site each month because they met the person they were seeking here, and on average we hear about more than 75 engagements and marriages each month. We think we’ve changed the dating experience of singles around the world, and all indications are that we will continue to lead this effort. It’s pure adrenaline these days and a tremendously exciting time in our industry.
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