Match.com buys OkCupid to spread the love

The subscription-based dating service courts new paying members with the acquisition

Topics: Coupling, Internet Culture,

Match.com buys OkCupid to spread the love

In the immortal words of warrior-poet Ke$ha, “Your love is my drug.” Well, that’s basically the phenomenon that Match.com hopes to cash in on, anyway. The online dating titan scooped up erstwhile rival OkCupid for $50 million today, presumably to inject some fresh blood into its business model.

OkCupid’s free service boasts 3.5 million active users, in comparison to 1.3 million subscribers on the Match.com rolls. The acquisition, it seems, hinges on the idea that Match can turn OkCupid’s non-paying members into subscribers — that the service will be so good that they just have to pay for more. Well, umm, good luck!

Greg Blatt, CEO of IAC, parent company of Match.com said in a press statement

We know that many people who start out on advertising-based sites ultimately develop an appetite for the broader feature set and more committed community, which subscription sites like Match.com and Chemistry.com offer, creating a true complimentary relationship between our various business models.

2010 saw record growth both for Match and OkCupid, and we believe coordinating the adjacent business models will help fuel continued growth for both. 

Some doth object, however. The Atlantic’s Nicholas Jackson derided the acquisition, pointing out that OkCupid itself said a subscription model would never work.

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Per Jackson:

Blatt’s goal, clearly, is to funnel OkCupid users into the Match.com subscription-based system. But I don’t suspect it will work. And that’s because OkCupid already offers a broad set of features and a committed community, something Blatt seems to believe can only exist in a subscription setting.

We’ll just have to wait and see if the move pays off.

Peter Finocchiaro is the deputy editor of Salon. Follow him on Twitter @PLFino.

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