OPW – Oct 29 – In one of the most significant fines imposed by a government on an online dating site, UK based JDI Dating Ltd was fined by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission $616,165 for use of fake profiles.
The FTC claimed that JDI dating and its owner William Mark Thomas misrepresented their fake members to lure consumers to pay for memberships. Called „virtual cupids,“ fake profiles were indicated by a small “v” encircled by a “C” and observed within the profile. The FTC viewed the icon as difficult to both see and understand.
Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said, „JDI Dating used fake profiles to make people think they were hearing from real love interests and to trick them into upgrading to paid memberships. Adding insult to injury, users were charged automatically to renew their subscriptions – often without their consent.”
Apart from simply a fake profile, Steven Baker of the FTC said „this case involved the use of fake communication,“ between the user and JDI Dating.
The Restore Online Shoppers‘ Confidence Act (ROSCA) requires members to consent to credit card charges and understand what they will be charged for and understand the methods of cancellation.
The settlement also required the following of JDI:
- Disclose that they will receive communications from virtual profiles
- Prohibits them from misrepresenting their product, service refund and cancellation policies
- Unable to sell the customer database
- Cancellations must be simple and easy for the consumer
- Prohibits JDI Dating from violating the ROSCA Act
OPW was able to contact William Thomas by telephone. He said „JDI Dating denies the FTC’s accusations but was happy to have reached a resolution of the government’s claims that was acceptable to both parties.“
This is the second time a UK based dating operation was exposed for fake profiles. The first was White Label Dating (Global Personals Ltd) in a television investigation by Channel 4 news.
JDI Dating operates ~18 private label sites, including rudefinder.com, cupidswand.com and flirtcrowd.com. No business connection appears to exist between Global Personals, Ltd and JDI Dating Ltd.
CBC.CA – Oct 27 – POF (PlentyOfFish.com) is the biggest dating site with 90M users that sends 30K messages a minute. According to POF founder & CEO, Markus Frind, POF is responsible for over 1M babies.
See full article at CBC News
See all posts on POF.com
WSJ – Oct 29 – IAC’s Match Group reported revenue of $230.2M, an YOY increase of 12%. Dating revenue grew 5% due to 6% growth in North America and 3% growth in International. The growth in Dating revenue was driven by increased paid subscribers (up 9%). Adjusted EBITDA decreased 11%.
by Michael Calia
See full article at WSJ
See all posts on Match.com
BCBUSINESS – Oct 21 – POF grew into one of the world’s most popular dating websites. Despite the popularity of its iPhone and Android apps, POF’s old revenue model is under siege, as advertising doesn’t work well on the smaller screens of smartphones. POF will need to evolve to survive. POF CEO & Founder, Markus Frind, says that for people under the age of 35, 90% of POF’s visits now come from phones rather than web browsers. Frind says up to 60% of the company’s “tens of millions of EBITDA” still comes from its website. POF’s apps make money from upgraded memberships Frind is the first to admit monetization on mobile has a ways to catch up. Mark Brooks, one of the Internet dating industry’s few consultants, says that while Frind will never have the deep pockets of IAC, POF’s mobile numbers are promising. Now he just has to figure out how to make mobile visitors as valuable as its declining desktop ones. Brooks points to Craiglist for inspiration. “Most people think it’s entirely free,” he says, “and it is—except for people who want to advertise jobs, and they make a lot of money from that. Mobile is pretty much a land grab right now,” he says. “Grab as many users as you can, then figure out what to do with them.”
by Trevor Melanson
See full article at BCBusiness
See all posts on POF.com
PEHUB – Oct 28 – San Diego-based SingldOut.com has raised $600K in seed funding from undisclosed investors. The startup, founded by two female execs, uses DNA analysis to determine if a potential date has the “chances for long-term chemistry, greater compatibility and overall relationship success.”
by Alastair Goldfisher
See full article at PEHub
See all posts on SingldOut
This post also appears on InternetDatingInvestments.