The Disruption of the Online Dating Industry

As a person working in the online dating industry, I’ve had the opportunity to experience and analyze a lot of popular online and social dating services in the U.S. and abroad. OKCupid, Bang with Friends, How About We,… there are lots of great online dating services that help you find dates in your region. The concept of online dating closely resembles that of social networking, except people are looking for romance, not friendship. Online dating serves the purpose of bringing people together, putting them into a carefully created “virtual” space, and letting them freely hang out with people they like. Remember when you went clubbing or just chilled out with your friends at a bar, you met new people and became friends with them in 5 minutes, only to forget most of them the next day? Online dating has a similar flow. You meet new people in a virtual space, chat with people you are interested in for a few minutes, and unless there is some chemistry, you don’t contact them or see them again. Just close the chat window, and talk to someone else. There’s even no concern about being rude or mean online, because it’s anonymous.

Every excellent Internet service has one thing in common, and that is, it mimics real life. For instance, Evernote is like an online diary. Coursera is like your online classroom. Facebook is like your online contact book. Online dating is no exception. It’s like your online social “club” where you meet someone just for a drink or for a long-term relationship, depending on what you want.


The problem is, unlike real social events or clubs where there is a limit on the number of guests, online dating services have no such limit. In other words, there are too many members approaching you and saying hi to you, when all you need is only a few quality matches who are truly compatible with you. When people are given too many choices, they can naturally feel overwhelmed and end up making poor choices. It takes hours to sift through profiles and to chat with them individually, only to choose one or two persons you want to meet for a coffee chat. It’s not only taking your time and energy but also making you stressed out. If the Internet is created to make a human life more convenient, why are people more stressed out by using online dating?


This question led me to build a casual, social dating game called Funfundate. As the name suggests, it’s built for people to have fun. I wanted a product that is easy to use, social, and stress-free. True, nothing is ever stress-free in this world anymore, but I wanted to “minimize” people’s stress by making algorithms do all of the works for humans. Isn’t that what the algorithms are supposed to do anyway? And of course, I tried to make it resemble real life dating as closely as possible. It’s a web service, not an iOS or Android app, and we’re on a testing phase to figure out what people “need” and what they don’t need. Since FFD lets you sign up via Facebook, registration takes only a few seconds. You don’t need to fill out your profile information (unless you want to fill out optional questions like truth or dare.) Plus, it’s FREE to sign up and use! 🙂


And then, something magical happens. It gets you two quality matches a day, from which you can anonymously pick one. (Your matches would live nearby your region.) We call it as a “Pick-who’s-hotter” game. A hotter match would be a person who is closer to your type. Only two choices a day for each member. Not one, not three, not tens or hundreds. If there is a mutual interest, a match is made, and you can chat with your match for free within our platform and then you two can meet up! Matching gets updated every 24 hour, and you can invite your Facebook friends over to play with you.

Online dating has been used by over 40 million people in the U.S. alone (data source: Pew Research Center). The industry is being disrupted by new, innovative platforms that embrace social, intuitive, stress-free, casual approaches to dating. It will be interesting to see how old players will respond to this disruption stage and how new players will shake up the industry in the future. (Innovation is always fun to watch, isn’t it? :))

Top 3 Gainers from Yahoo’s Tumblr Acquisition

Top 3 Gainers from Yahoo’s Tumblr Acquisition

Yahoo surprised us by announcing a billion dollar acquisition of Tumblr this past week. There’s been a lot of debate about whether Tumblr’s competitors can benefit from this acquisition since Yahoo is likely to “screw up” Tumblr one way or the other. Will Tumblr eventually lose its unique identity? If so, which company will benefit from it?


To start with, we need information about Tumblr’s target users. Tumblr has been very popular among teenagers. You can never go wrong once you get those teenagers as your customers. They spread words virally if they find something “cool”, get addicted to things more easily, and spend a lot of time creating, decorating, and reblogging contents! Teens who don’t want to share anything on Facebook have been expressing their creativity and voice on Tumblr. It’s like their “secret” blog where they can be anyone they want to be and say whatever they want to say. It’s a perfect platform to do so because it’s anonymous, your friends or parents wouldn’t know about it, and you’re free to post anything you want (even porn!). Other target users include small businesses, creative artists, and college students, but they don’t create and reblog as often. Teens have indubitably made Tumblr popular and go viral.

Since Yahoo announced its acquisition of Tumblr, many Tumblr users have complained that they will “ruin” Tumblr and have even threatened that they will leave to use other platforms like WordPress. Will a lot of users leave Tumblr in the future? What will happen then? 

Here’s a list of top 3 gainers from Yahoo’s Tumblr Acquisition. (This is solely based on my opinion, so feel free to share your thoughts by leaving comments!)

1. WordPress is a popular blog web hosting service provider owned by Automattic. Since Yahoo’s announcement of acquisition, many people migrated their blog from Tumblr to WordPress. Why? Because it’s super-easy to import your contents from Tumblr! I personally imported all of my contents to WordPress and it took about 15 minutes to migrate 2000 contents that I had on Tumblr. Not bad, huh? (FYI, my WP link is https://gingerbunnyme.wordpress.comI can definitely see more people doing the same if something bad happens to Tumblr (i.e., too much advertising, other users leaving, not many great contents..). If their most popular users are leaving, their followers are likely to follow as well.


2. Pinterest

It’s interesting to see whether and how Pinterest would benefit from Yahoo’s Tumblr acquisition. Pinterest’s target users are quite different from Tumblr’s: it’s popular among women, rich, adults under 50, with some college education (Source: Pew Research Center)

Once Tumblr users migrate to Pinterest and start “pinning” like crazy, Pinterest’s demographics and its contents will change significantly. What will happen if Pinterest gets both teenagers and older, richer women? Can it be the most popular social media in the U.S., surpassing Twitter or Facebook?



3. Instagram

Instagram is very similar to Tumblr in many aspects. They both heavily rely on photos, are mobile-friendly, and their target users are also similar as Instagram is also popular among teens and people in their 20s. Instagram was also acquired by Facebook, so it’s interesting to see whether Instagram will be able to allure some Tumblr users after Yahoo’s acquisition. (Some Instagram users were angry about Facebook’s acquisition, but many decided to stay because there are no other great alternatives.)

The main difference between Instagram and Tumblr is that Instagram’s contents tend to be much more “personal” than Tumblr’s. I see a lot of photos of celebrities, cute people, fashion, food, art, and funny, gif on Tumblr, whereas I see a lot of “real” contents on Instagram like photos of themselves and their friends and family. Because their contents are quite different, it’s more likely that Tumblr users will start pinning on Pinterest than posting on Instagram. 

Do you use Tumblr? Are you going to migrate to another platform or are you going to stay? To which platform will you move? Please share your opinions by leaving comments!