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Meanwhile, POF’s chief competitor is a veritable whale by comparison: New York-based IAC owns popular sites Ok Cupid and Match.com, the online dating leader in terms of revenue, and now Tinder.You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry more upended by the mobile revolution than online dating, and like that first fish out of water, POF will need to evolve to survive.
Everything’s mobile.” Already Frind has almost everyone at POF updating and improving the mobile apps—while only a single developer still monitors the website.Despite the dominance of mobile in terms of visits, Frind says up to 60 per cent of the company’s “tens of millions of EBITDA” still comes from its website.In terms of advertising, “you’re selling stuff for five cents a click” on mobile, he says.POF’s apps therefore make money from upgraded memberships (users can pay a monthly fee for extra features, such as the ability to add more photos).He's responsible for thousands upon thousands of marriages, earning millions upon millions along the way.Yet Markus Frind’s success can be boiled down to a simple formula.
In 2003, when dating websites were paywalled, the founder of Vancouver-based Plenty of Fish (POF) offered a free alternative by keeping costs low and leaning heavily on ad revenue.For years, Frind famously claimed to work only an hour a day, watching the money roll in as POF swam past the competition and grew into one of the world’s most popular dating websites. “Everything you used to do three years ago has tripled now,” Frind says.Or more than tripled: five years ago, POF counted just three people on its payroll, while today the company employs 80.As a result, the CEO’s one-hour workday has given way to “half a day” of labour.Yet while revenues have also risen in recent years—including this one, which Frind expects will outperform 2013 by 30 per cent—the mass-market adoption of smartphones threatens to roil the waters for POF.Despite the popularity of the company’s i Phone and Android apps (second only to Tinder, an explosively popular “hook-up” app), Frind’s old revenue model—that once-simple, web-based formula—is under siege, as advertising doesn’t work well on the smaller screens of smartphones.