Dating website PlentyOfFish sells for US$575mil

Timeless business? Dating websites are doing roaring business.

IAC/InterActive Corp’s Match Group, which owns, has agreed to buy Canada-based dating website PlentyOfFish for US$575mil to push deeper into the lucrative mobile-based dating business, ahead of its planned public listing.

Canada-based PlentyOfFish was launched in 2003 and has over 90 million registered users worldwide, 80% of whom access the services on mobile devices, according to its website.

The company’s founder and chief executive Markus Frind grew the site to 10 million users on his own while running the company out of his Vancouver apartment.

“As more people than ever use more dating apps than ever with more frequency than ever, PlentyOfFish’s addition both brings new members into our family of products and deepens the lifetime relationship we have with our users across our portfolio,” says Sam Yagan, CEO of Match Group.

Dating websites and apps have attracted users with their instant messaging, photo-sharing and geolocation services. About 31 million Americans have used a dating site or app, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study.

IAC, controlled by media mogul Barry Diller, said last month it would float a fifth of Match Group later this year. The business houses popular mobile dating app Tinder and websites OkCupid and OurTime.

IAC’s shares rose as much as 2.2% to a record high of US$84.39 on the Nasdaq.

“The deal makes a lot of sense ... it really bolsters the portfolio in terms of the quality of assets (Match Group) has,” Benchmark Co analyst Daniel Kurnos says.

Kurnos, who pegs PlentyOfFish’s 2015 revenue at US$100mil, says privately-held dating website eHarmony could also be a potential acquisition target for Match Group.

PlentyOfFish works as a subscription service and offers premium membership with additional features, just like Tinder.

“PlentyOfFish has doubled its revenues, from what I understand, since 2013, or at least is on pace to do so,” Axiom Capital analyst Victor Anthony says. – Reuters

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