Industry of dating sites, apps ‘very mature,’ but fresh investors still take the leap


With more 2,000 dating services to choose from in North America and millions of consumers engaging in them, tales of searching digitally for a successful match — for compulsion, or perhaps just for the night — are now so common they’ve become an intimate usually of the way we live.

Canadians could have more options to choose from in up with years. According to IBISWorld, the number of companies in the dating services industriousness in Canada is expected to continue to expand, by 3.5 per cent this year and three per cent the practising year.

As the stigma around online dating has faded, it’s also fit a highly competitive — and crowded — industry. Companies have targeted slot communities and different religious, ethnic and age groups with apps such as ChristianMingle, JDate, Grangers Only, Grindr, and SilverSingles.

But in both Canada and the U.S., revenue — while at rest expected to increase — is forecast to grow more slowly over the next five years. And, in the U.S., chunkier players are expected to continue acquiring smaller ones, potentially flinch the number of companies, according to IBISWorld.

Match Group, the largest group by market share in both Canada and the U.S., has been buying up smaller old-fashioned services for years. In 2011, Match Group acquired OkCupid, and in 2015, it bought the Vancouver-based season site, Plenty of Fish, for $575 million US. 

The company says it dominates more than 45 brands, including and Tinder, but it doesn’t divulge a complete list of all of them. Still, its well-known brands have been usually of the Canadian landscape for years.

Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett says Tinder relieved him to meet his soon-to-be-wife after moving to Toronto. (Yanjun Li/CBC)

Take Tinder, for warning.

Chris Bennett worked in downtown Toronto, but he used to live remote of the city. He says that, without Tinder, he may not have met his fiance when he was purchasing the app two years ago.

“We’re getting married July 20th,” says Bennett. “It’s worked out definitely well.”

Loving advice from an industry vet

In its most recent three-monthly report, Match Group says more than three million Tinder narcotic addicts pay for premium services and its total number of global subscribers across all identifies soared 24 per cent to seven million. But as the popular sites be proper even more well-established, it’s becoming more challenging for newer websites and apps to yoke in.

“It’s a sign of a very mature market,” said Bruce Croxon, a antediluvian panelist on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, but also one of the co-founders of Lavalife.

Lavalife launched in 1988 handling the hot, new technology of the time: voicemail. It helped to pave the way for the rise in digital go steady with services after it.

“For a long time we had the market to ourselves. The technology was big and it was costly,” said Croxon. “The only way to compete now is to own a ton of sites and start to get some concisions of scale.”

Bruce Croxon

Before starring on CBC’s Dragons’ Den as an investor, Bruce Croxon was one of the co-founders of Lavalife. (Ivan Arsovski/CBC Hot item)

That’s what Scott Darling is up against with his dating app, Sniffr.

Sniffr points to help dog owners to meet other dog owners. It originally launched in 2014, but has relaunched with upgrades discrete times since.

Darling, one of the founders of Sniffr, says he’s invested $100,000 in the app but it has contrariwise had a few thousand downloads in Toronto, Los Angeles and San Francisco so far. Still, he’s hopeful.

Scott Darling

Scott Apple of ones eye is one of the co-founders of Sniffr. He’s invested about $100,000 in building the business. (Ousama Farag/CBC Intelligence)

“You do see from the reaction from people when you tell them nearly this product… they like the idea and they join up,” Enchanting said. “It tells me that, though [the online dating industry] may be suffused there still is opportunity.”

Slice of the dating app pie

In Canada, online and unfixed dating revenue is approximately $112.7 million, just a fraction of what it is in the U.S., at $2.4 billion, concording to IBISWorld.

To put that size in context, estimated Canadian revenue for Netflix was $517.8 million in 2016, according to the Canadian Standard Concentration Research Project.

Croxon and the other founders of Lavalife marketed the company in 2004 for $176 million.

“In hindsight it was the right time because the supermarket was already getting very busy,” Croxon said.

Croxon was on CBC’s Dragons’ Den from 2011 to 2014, and currently spends in digital startups through another company he co-founded, Round 13 Central.

But those with a dating service pitch should probably look to another place.

“When I see start up dating apps come through our door I say compelling, but no thanks,” Croxon said. “It is an industry that, to me, had its day.”

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