August 30, 2021
While online dating may have once bore a negative stigma, it is now a socially acceptable part of today’s society, with tens of millions of users in the U.S. alone. The pandemic last year fueled its recent growth, which resulted in an enormous surge in singles turning to dating apps to find romance – or something a bit more casual. In the U.S. alone, market research provider Statista estimates 44.2 million users of online dating services in 2020, with projections of that user base increasing to 53.3 million by 2025.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, three-in-ten U.S. adults say they have ever used a dating site or app. Even Facebook Inc. (Tii:FB) got in on the act, launching Facebook Dating in 2019, incorporating the ability to integrate Instagram posts directly into their Facebook Dating profile and giving users the ability to add Instagram followers to their Secret Crush lists.
With August 31st designated as National Matchmaker Day, let’s review a few of today’s leading publicly traded matchmakers – online dating platforms. While there are dozens of dating apps and sites, many of them fall under the umbrellas of just a few public companies.
Let’s start with the reigning king of matchmakers and the one that credits itself as a pioneer of the online dating industry, Match Group, Inc. (Tii:MTCH). Founded in 1993, the company was part of IAC/InterActiveCorp (Tii:IAC) until its separation in July 2020. Match.com now oversees a massive portfolio of online dating services, including Tinder, Match, Meetic, OkCupid, Hinge, Pairs, PlentyOfFish, OurTime, Azar, Hakuna Live, and more. In fact, the company claims that 60% of relationships in the U.S. that started on a dating site or app began on a Match Group platform. Its Tinder app is the most downloaded and the highest-grossing overall worldwide. Tinder contributed $1.4 billion of Match Group’s nearly $2.4 billion in revenues last year.
A newcomer to the public markets, Bumble Inc. (Tii:BMBL) closed its $2.5 billion IPO in February 2021. The company attracted a fair bit of attention for putting women in the driver’s seats, so to speak, by only allowing men to chat after women have reached out to them. The platform also has a verification process to ensure all parties involved are who they claim to be. Bumble experienced significant growth during last year’s pandemic. Total Paying Users increased 22.2% to 2.5 million in 2020, compared to 2.1 million in 2019. By the second quarter of 2021, Total Paying Users increased another 20% to reach 2.9 million. This growth increased year-end revenues to $542.2 million compared to $488.9 million for the prior year.
Spark Networks SE (Tii:LOV), which began in 1997 with Jdate, a dating site for the Jewish community, now oversees a portfolio of premium and freemium dating apps that also include Zoosk, EliteSingles, SilverSingles, Christian Mingle, and JSwipe, among others. Unlike other platforms, Spark Networks focuses on the over 40 demographic and has approximately 1 million monthly paying subscribers globally. Though not as large as the other matchmakers in this article, Spark Networks nevertheless experienced similar growth during last year’s conditions. Revenues for 2020 increased $62.1% to $233 million for 2019 as Monthly Average Revenue Per User rose 7.4% to $20.93.
While online matchmakers may have begun in the 1990s, computer-aided matchmaking goes back to the late 1950s when two Stanford students used a two-ton IBM computer and a questionnaire to match 49 men with 49 women. These days, much of the crowded field of dating apps and websites are owned by the three companies mentioned here, meaning competition for users will grow increasingly aggressive for the foreseeable future. When combined with a Pew Research Center study showing that 31% of America’s 258.3 million adults identify as single, that means more than 80 million single Americans may potentially turn to matchmaking platforms when looking for love.