Mad Data Science

OkCupid Brags About Manipulating Online Daters in Secret Tests

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After all of the furor over Facebook’s invasive experiments on users’ news feeds, other startups running the same plays had to be thinking: “What do we do now?” In the case of OkCupid, their version of ass-covering is to come out loud and proud about the games they’ve been playing with their users’ hearts.

OkCupid posted a snarky, image-loaded essay on their blog today called “We Experiment On Human Beings!” where they make a list of hijinxes they’ve pulled on their users without them knowing, all in the name of science. In the post, OkCupid cofounder Christian Rudder points to how offended people were that Facebook published a research report based on manipulating users’ news feeds. Read More

Dating: The Final Frontier

HowAboutWe’s New Couples’ Messaging App Is Great For Sexting

I sent my boyfriend some preeeeetty racy stuff. (Photo by Jordyn Taylor)

A little over a year ago, singles’ dating site HowAboutWe expanded to include a dating service for couples, their mission to help couples keep the romance alive after they find love. Today, they’re carrying on that mission with the launch of You&Me, a special messaging app for people in relationships.

You and your partner can download You&Me, and then each log on to your shared account. From there, you can send each other a ton of fun media, including written messages, customizable photos, videos, songs, and even Snapchat-esque “secret” images. As you communicate, the app catalogues all your interactions into a series of beautifully designed streams — kind of like a multimedia scrapbook of you and your partners’ relationship. Read More

Dating: The Final Frontier

We Ate Ten Pounds of Valentine’s Day Chocolate With HowAboutWe for Couples

Love at first chocolate making class! Here's a totally not staged photo of us holding hands with chocolate-covered gloves.

For a while, it seemed like single people got all the fun apps—do you know badly I always wanted to do that Tinder swipey thing?! Thankfully, last week I discovered HowAboutWe for Couples, the New York-based dating site geared towards people in relationships.

HowAboutWe began in 2010 as a singles’ dating site aimed at ending “endless online profile browsing,” cofounder Brian Schechter explained to Betabeat. He and fellow founder Aaron Schildkrout wanted to create an experience “where you post actual date ideas, and connect and meet in the real world, away from pokes [and] winks.” Read More

Blind Item

Okay, Which of You Got Freaky With the CEO of a ‘Prominent Web Startup’ at Davos?

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It seems no opportunity for romance is outside the purview of dating site HowAboutWe. Hence this recap of the pickins for participants at Davos, the Model U.N. for wealthy grown-ups. Apparently, “the dynamics at Davos are basically the same as the dynamics of any other group of human beings.” We’re as shocked as you are!

The primary source for the post was a nameless tech CEO, who swore the younger attendees, at least, kept it pretty chaste: Read More

startup rundown

Startup News: SoundCloud Goes Social and HowAboutWe Tries to Get Your Mom Laid

Soundcloud CEO Mr. Ljung (Photo: Twitter.com)

SoundCloud Busts Out Of Beta At this point, SoundCloud is basically the audio version of YouTube. A private-beta version of the site launched earlier this year called Next and the newest version integrates a bunch of those social features that the company hopes will help its users discover new music. “From today, ‘Next’ is now simply SoundCloud,” said Alexander Ljung, founder and CEO of SoundCloud in a press release sent to Betabeat. “It’s a platform for people to discover new, original music and audio, for creators to build audiences, and for everyone to share what they hear whether online or on mobile.”

The company claims that users now post over 10 hours of music and audio every minute while reaching over 180 million people. That’s a staggering 8% of the entire internet population, every month. On December 6th, mobile users will be able to enjoy reposts, updated mobile search, and UX updates on both iOS and Android SoundCloud apps. Read More

Love for Sale

Is Your Dating Site Selling Your Profile? To Keep Membership High, Niche Sites Get Sly

dating profiles

Angela is a 34-year-old single woman from Alabama. She’s a Leo. According to her online dating profile, she is 5’8” with blue eyes and dark brown hair. “I am a creative, witty, intelligent girl looking for someone to shower with all my love and affection!” she declares, appending a smiley face.

Angela was included in a 1,000-pack of allegedly single, supposedly American women, which Betabeat purchased for $35. Her profile is one of a purported 14.9 million for sale on SaleDatingProfiles.com, where the inventory also includes 10,000 U.K. profiles for $200; 15,000 Russians for $240, and 70,000 Australians for $95. A pack of 2,500 lesbian profiles goes for $120, or 4.8 cents apiece; gay men are .003 cents each and are sold in a pack of 410,000. “High quality Gays adult dating profiles for sale with multiplay photos located in USA, United Kingdom, Canada and other countries,” the offer states. At the time of writing, SaleDatingProfiles was having a 75-percent-off spring sale.

Angela, who asked that her last name be withheld, has been dating online for years. But she never imagined her profile was for sale on the open market, or that it now appears on MeetGirlsGuys.com, which she never signed up for. “I have never even heard of that site!” she said, adding that she lives in Texas, not Alabama, and the photo is at least seven years old.

Online dating is a fast-growing industry, with current revenues estimated to run between $1.5 and $3 billion a year. But every new dating site faces the same problem: finding souls to mate. Recruiting new customers is expensive; industry experts put the customer acquisition price at $1 to $5 per person.

SaleDatingProfiles and its competitors BuyProfiles.com and DatingProfilesSale.com offer a shortcut. They sell bulk packages of profiles that seem to include a fair number of actual singles alongside somewhat more questionable Russian beauties, Nigerian bankers and half-empty profiles, which sometimes sell for less than a dime a dozen. Read More

Love in the Time of Algorithms

Online Dating Isn’t a Failure, It’s Just That It’s Harder to Find Love These Days

Mr. Schildkrout.

Aaron Schildkrout is the co-founder and co-CEO of HowAboutWe.com—a dating site that’s all about actually getting offline on real dates. Yesterday he got word of the first HowAboutWe wedding.

Adrianne Jeffries of Betabeat pinged me yesterday with a link to a post from Philip Greenspun titled, “Is this continued existence of involuntarily single people proof that online dating is a failure?

STC (Save the Click): Here’s a summary of Greenspun’s piece: He argues that, given the falling rates of marriage over the past few decades and the continued plethora of single people who want to be married, online dating is a de facto failure. He believes that self-description in online dating should be abandoned for more of a peer-testimony system. His evidence is some census data about marriage rates and the success of a lengthy testimony he wrote on behalf of a now-married friend. The whole thing is framed in opposition to the claims of a pro-online-dating “26-year-old” guy who Greenspun met at a Hanukkah Party (“suspiciously held on Christmas Eve”). Read More

High Forms of Flattery

Clone Wars: Rise of the Fast Follower Startups

Which came first?

A FEW MONTHS AGO, AN ENTREPRENEUR in the tri-state area was soliciting web development help via Craigslist. “I’m looking for a Meetup.com clone script,” the listing said. “It must have all the social community features that Meetup.com has, including the capability to add new groups, users events, polls, connect to other social communities, shopping cart, sponsors and sub sites.” Meetup, which was founded in 2002 and has about 80 employees, is reportedly valued at more than $50 million. The asking price for a replica was $300 to $600.

Last week, two ads appeared from the other side of the fence: a programmer-for-hire looking for something to build who claimed to have built a Facebook clone in four days, a Flickr clone in three days and a Google clone in two weeks. He noted that he’d also created a Craigslist clone, adding, “but no one visits it so we are posting this ad to Craigslist.”*

When it comes to internet startups, much is made of the entrepreneurs who first bring an idea to market—innovators or “first movers,” in the parlance of market researchers. But vastly more common are “fast followers,” the ones who jump on a hot idea and dash off a carbon copy. After all, the first mover doesn’t always win the race: just look at the Mac, launched in 1984, versus the Windows PC, launched in 1985, or at Facebook, which came after Friendster, Myspace and the Winklevoss social network HarvardConnection. Read More

Oversharing

HowAboutWe Brings Back Taildaters!

"Sultry lounge" Madam Geneva.

Remember Taildaters, the MTV show that followed two people on a date as their friends talked smack and sent them text messages from a “control room”? Local dating start-up HowAboutWe does, and the action-based dating start-up is bringin’ it back by asking, “How about we do some oversharing?”

The plan is to watch a young, attractive couple on their first date tonight over cocktails and pork buns at Noho speakeasy Madam Geneva via a live date cam. Based on HAW’s blog, the proposal must have read something like, “How about we go to a sultry lounge replete with dark corners and plush booths, which, along with the out-of-this-world cocktails, make it an ideal location to meet someone for a date?” (And put it on the internet?) Read More