Swipe right if their annual returns on stocks are higher than 20%.

Led by Match.com, Zoosk, and Tinder, online dating stocks is revolutionizing how we define relationships.

Newfound dating apps might not be the perfect match for everyone. But they have generated billions in revenue and grown to become some of the app store’s top-grossing apps.

The Rise of Online Dating Stocks

In 1959, the first notable matchmaking service was created when Stanford students created a school project for the “Happy Families Planning Services”. They used punch cards. With the help of Stanford’s IBM 650 mainframe computer, they matched 49 couples for a date function.

Many of today’s biggest dating sites were launched after 1994: when the internet was born. This set the foundations for a now-massive industry that continues to grow by the day. Give people access to the world wide web opened the doors to online dating. Online communication applications like E-Mail allowed for instant messaging between potential couples.

The History Starts With Facebook

The founding of Facebook (FB) in 2004 transformed the world of online relationships. The final touch before Facebook’s publication was the addition of the “relationship status”. As Mark Zuckerberg so famously quoted in The Social Network being crucial to the platform’s early success.

With the rise of Facebook (FB) came the rise of a slew of social media platforms. Pictures, statuses, interests, and everything in between became public information. The world of online dating flooded with new members.

Dating Stocks & Apps by the Numbers

In a recent study by Statistic Brain, about 49.5 million people have tried online dating before. There are currently 17.5 million eHarmony members and 25.6 million Match.com members. As our relationships continue to grow in the online space, these numbers are only expected to swell.

According to a study by Statista, about 19% of general internet users also use online dating apps. Day by day, technology pervades an increasing portion of our lives. We have socialized everything from our pictures to our payments, so it only makes sense to socialize our social lives.

Welcome To Tinder

While eHarmony and Match.com were early pioneers in the online dating industry, a newcomer has risen in the App Store: Tinder.

Tinder is a simplified version of popular dating sites. Its core function is swiping right if you are interested in the person and left if you are not.

If both people swipe right, a match is made and a conversation can begin. The fastest-growing dating app currently boasts about 50 million users who swipe, on average, 1 billion times per day. Tinder has simplified the way people date online. It has especially grown in the millennial community due to its quirky yet efficient matchmaking scheme.

Dating apps created outside the US have shown arguably more success than Tinder. Momo (MOMO), the largest China-based dating app, has almost 100 million active users. This is more than 3 times that of Tinder, and just acquired China’s equivalent of Tinder, Tantan. But with countless matches being made all over the world, we must ask: where does all the money come from?

The Value of Swiping Right

People value love and relationships. Therefore, it is easy to understand why there is such a lucrative business in dating apps. Through Q3 of 2017, Tinder was the highest-grossing app in the entire App Store. This includes beating out other tech giants like Pandora and Netflix (NFLX).

Tinder is part of a larger company, Match Group (MTCH), which, you guessed it, owns Match.com as well. This holding company accounts for a massive portion of the market; and is also why so few other stocks trade related to dating. This excludes Netflix of course.

Tinder was recently valued at $3 billion. Match Group as a whole was valued at $4.8 billion. This clearly shows a shift in value from dating sites to mobile dating apps.

Dating apps are able to take advantage of the growing online dating presence by offering premium services. Tinder is free to download, but it offers several “Freemiums”. These include Super Likes and the ability to see who has liked your profile in the past. This “freemium” business model has been a major driver of revenue for Tinder and many other popular apps.

With Success Comes Competition

Tinder’s success has opened the door for many similar services to mimic its fast-paced, efficient matchmaking service. Bumble is a nearly identical app, however, it only allows women to start conversations after a match has been made. Grindr also emulates Tinder’s simple service, however, it specializes in LGBTQ matchmaking. Neither have publicly traded stocks.

Tinder’s success has created a ripple effect in the dating industry as a whole, and several companies have been able to take advantage of the growing interest in fast-paced dating apps.

Momo’s acquisition of Tantan for $600 million proves the true value of the dating app industry. Tinder’s success around the world made clear to Momo the high potential of a Tinder-like app in the country with the world’s largest population, China. Currently, 43% of Chinese nationals have used online dating, and Momo’s acquisition of Tantan proves their intention to take over even more of that percentage.

Although the rise of the online dating industry has led to countless relationships, it has also led to some negative repercussions of taking away the intimacy of face-to-face interactions.

What Could go Wrong?

The online nature of dating apps has led some to point out the harmful effects of meeting people exclusively over the phone. By taking away the in-person interactions of meeting face-to-face, some people are concerned that online dating apps are changing the way we date for the worse.

The rise of Tinder on college campuses has lead many to believe the fast-growing app is leading to the proliferation of hook-up culture. According to Statista, 24% of US online dating users are looking for a sexual relationship. By simply choosing matches based on several pictures and a short bio, many argue that Tinder is basing interaction more on the likelihood of a sexual encounter rather than on long-term relationships.

Additionally, Tinder has drawn criticism for its datafication of dating culture. For example, Tinder draws a wealth of personal information from Facebook, Instagram, and other sites, which may include, “your profile and personal information such as your name and contact information, photos, interests, activities and transactions.” This data is of immense commercial value to Tinder and advertisers that work on their platform, as they hold a great deal of information on your personal interests and preferences, making it much easier to tailor advertisements to your desires.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Technology continues to change the way we live as it integrates itself deeper into our daily lives. Amazon (AMZN) changed the way we ordered books, Netflix (NFLX) changed the way we watched TV shows and movies, and now dating apps are changing the way we meet, interact with, and ultimately select our potential life partners. As long as we are alright with sharing our personal preferences and deeply intimate information with our electronic matchmakers, their algorithms will improve and so will (some of) our love lives.


In case you missed it, check out our recent post about how Bezos and Musk chase elusive tax grants from cities and states.

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