It has a Google-like track record of gobbling up its competition: it purchased Ok Cupid in 2011, and also owns Tinder, a wildly popular mobile app founded in 2012.
Having web access at home – like owning a mobile phone - was considered quite exotic. It promised a clever algorithm, which used character traits and interests to pair users with their perfect partner. At first, online dating occupied a seedy corner of the internet, ranking in people’s minds just above red light services.The first users of were a motley bunch: all of them tentative; some optimistic, others outright weirdos.Bill and Freddie Straus, aged 76 and 72, fall into the first category.The couple from California are among the first in history to have gone on an online date – and, two decades later, have a long, happy marriage to show for it.In one corner is a cluster of Hallmark-red sofas; romantic slogans adorn a board above the photocopier.There are hearts everywhere – from the pendant on an employee’s necklace to the novelty fruit bowl.
is not only the most popular dating website on the planet; it’s the granddaddy of them all.
This year, it celebrates its 20th anniversary – marking two decades since a little start-up suggested that Cupid’s arrow might strike through a screen. Its users are spread across 40 countries and exchange 415 million emails a year.
Reclining on a purple velvet throne, inside his castle – a sixth-floor office in a grey tower block in central London – Karl Gregory is reeling off some of his favourite statistics. ” He whisks a print-out from a pile of papers on his desk and prods a blurry image in the middle.
“517,000 relationships, 92,000 marriages and around a million babies,” he grins. It’s a picture of a customer’s baby scan under the words: “all thanks to Match.com”.
At the British HQ of the world’s biggest dating agency, every day is Valentine’s Day.
The lift doors ping open to reveal a wall plastered in photographs of happy couples – cliché upon cliché of wedding shots, beach scenes, even a pair strolling through a sunflower field.