SF Home to Next Generation of Online Dating Services, but Algorithm for Love Remains Elusive
When it comes to online dating, like with all types of social media, San Francisco is at the center of the action.
“We have the most fans in San Francisco, as a percentage of the population, and probably our biggest penetration of any market,” says Sam Yagan of New York-based OK Cupid, one of the larger online matchmakers. “It’s always been one of our best markets, there are more techies, more early adopters than anywhere else.”
Industry leaders Match.com (which last week bought OK Cupid), and eHarmony maintain a high profile in Northern California as well, but the Bay Area is also home to the next generation of dating services, like DateBuzz and Skout.
DateBuzz, which just launched in December, positions itself as a place where busy young professionals, who don’t have much time for dating, can meet. Founded by three Harvard graduates, the site has teamed up with the Harvard Club to host an Ivy League (plus Stanford) Young Alum Mixer on February 11th.
The site’s blog features three appealing young women who talk about their dating experiences in short video clips. Rather than the long profiles that are required at other sites, DateBuzz offers members short “get-to-know-you” sessions, where they vote on different aspects of someone’s profile as to what they like and don’t like.
The more times a person votes, the smarter the technology becomes, and therefore, the match. “It’s addictive,” says CEO Sunil Nagaraj. “ We see people voting a thousand times in the first week. They love to interact in a more transparent way.”
Skout, meanwhile, which is headquartered on Townsend Street in San Francisco, is a mobile apps company that bills itself as the “future of online dating.”
Skout works on on smartphones (iPhones and Androids) with GPS to help people flirt with each other based on proximity. The advantage of this approach is that it is quicker – people can meet on impulse.
Managing Director Robin Wolaner says “Skout users are a generation younger that Match's and eHarmony’s. The dating is much more casual and real-time.” On its blog, the service says it takes care not to reveal a user’s exact location, and filters out any “douchebags and perverts” (or spammers) who try to use their app.
All the dating services are busy this time of year, naturally, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. “This is our version of Christmas,” says Yagan at OK Cupid. “And we do hope all our members find their match.”
Besides the services mentioned above, there are many other dating sites out there – Zoosk, Chemistry.com, Spark, J-Date, Ready 4 Singles Over 40, Singlesnet, PlentyofFish.com, PerfectMatch.com, and Mingle2s.com, to name a few.
There are so many, in fact, that if you get the impression that no one has yet discovered an algorithm that can accurately predict love, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
As Marita, one of the bloggers on DateBuzz, says: “I don’t think romance is ever easy for anyone.”