It’s starting to get cold in London, as we catch the tail of September and the cold is settling in. The midsummer night dreams have gone, and the holiday period lull is coming to an end. Determined and ready for the second and last run of the year, many will be determined to make the best out of what is left of the year.
With online dating now becoming mainstream, for many of us in big cities, turning to the web to find love, friendship and companionship has become a no-brainer. Working the startup circuit, be it through the London Enterprise Tech Meetup, or through other various mediums such as The Golden Network and other bit.ly(s) and pieces , I’ve attended many an event just a walk down from my office on FinTech Square. FinTech Square being the cluster on Finsbury Square where many of the financial data companies (and Oracle now) have taken residence.
Nevertheless, the more interesting things I’ve heard in and around Silicon Roundabout, are probably the ones I’ve eavesdropped on in small coffee shops such as my favorite haunt Paper and Cup . The last one I overheard was about a new company trying to crack the Pre-Online Dating space, a well known issue of everyone who has tried online dating knows that the space is fickle, and is more of a jungle than a promised land.
The Online Dating Landscape:
OkCupid, the online dating site with a “gradual” online dating business model, i.e. There is no subscription fee and users can use the site to browse and contact each other for free, recently published their research that they have been experimenting on users by randomising their matching algorithm to “fudge” the percentage matches of incompatible people with each other. This was in response to Facebook recent admission that they also experimented on their users.
So they would show a fake 90% match when according to their traditional matching algorithm, which uses information listed on your profile, questions you’ve answered and preferences to match people, it would be 30% match. They reached the astonishing revelation that people just look at the picture.The percentage match did little to affect whether people contact each other or not. I won’t delve into their findings (and admission that they have no idea what they are doing) you can read them here. However…
It’s just about the picture? Shock and awe. Panic, mayhem.
Little do people know, that OkCupid, is a site actually owned by match.com – a behemoth in the online dating space, which uses a subscription based model. i.e. you have to subscribe to the site to be able to use it to contact people. They don’t admit that people only look at the picture because that would be an assassination of their business model, making all matching sites just about the same – so why pay for subscribing?
Tinder: Next Generation Dating
One must notice the parallels. Facebook has turned into a photosharing mechanism and entertainment link-sharing medium. To my admission of Mark Zuckerber’s good insight is his purchase of Instagram. Preposterous to acquire a 40 people company for $1 Billion, yet now dwarfed by WhatsApp acquisition. Snapchat continues to resist, however, what became obvious is that it’s all about the picture. Tinder, the defacto dating app of the moment, did acknolwedge that it is indeed all about the picture, and has taken away all the clutter. Swipe in either direction based on what you see. Simple, easy. As it’s become incredibly popular in big cities, using it’s location based mechanism, which thrives on densely populated cities such New York and Los Angeles, who have more women ratios to men according to Trulia’s map. Rumor has it that you now can go on a “Tinder” holiday where you are “taken” to locations with high density of the opposite sex. (Apparently Merseyside is the place to be in England for men.) They say humans instinctively identify with facial structures to figure out compatibility. You can even try it for yourself here. You can also read Joe Navarro’s FBI Guide to Speed Reading people through body language.
PreTinder – the PreDating app
Finally, to my eavesdropping at a cafe in Shoreditch. Apparently there is a new application called Hinge where you can meet people through friends. I am not quite sure that is the right path because I have been told by some swimming friends that they do not wish for their friends to be recommended to them by a dating app. So given that Tinder has proved the conjecture that it truly is all about the picture, it is very important that you choose the right picture that would maximize your chances. Not only should you have tigers and koalas caressing pauses, but you should also show a picture that brings your best features into light (literally). So the way I understood the PreTinder app works is you upload a picture and release it to the online community. It’s currently in beta phase where it’s just available to women (a tried and tested technique based on social networks that are predominantly used by women , with other successful apps such LuLu the app that allows women to rate men) the PreTinder app also mimics the Facebook like functionality by allowing your friends to rate your picture. No contact or matching happens. So, screen the picture, then put the highest rated one on your actual dating profile and wait for love to come waltzing in…..
I can’t stop but think that this is just HotOrNot all over again. Which proves that ideas in Technology are just recycled, and mostly cyclical (and synical).