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January 15, 2013

OKCupid releases app for 'Crazy Blind Dates'

(Continued)

OKCupid was acquired in 2011 by New York-based IAC/InterActiveCorp, media mogul Barry Diller's holding company. Last October, Yagan took over its portfolio of dating sites, which had $518 million in revenue in 2011, up 29 percent from the prior year. The company's other sites include Match.com, for people looking for serious relationships, and OurTime, for daters over age 50. Most of the sites either ask for a monthly subscription fee, like Match, or charge users to send messages. OKCupid, aimed at users ages 18 to 34, makes money mainly through advertising.

OKCupid attempted a Web-based version of Crazy Blind Date in 2007, but not enough users had smartphones at the time, the company said. Now the industry is shifting to mobile, with more people using apps than websites for dating in 2011 for the first time, according to an IBISWorld report. The OKCupid mobile app and website receive 20 times as much activity as in January 2012, according to the company.

Yagan has tracked all kinds of data on users to determine what they want from OKCupid — his company's blog, OKTrends, displays line graphs detailing things like a country's per capita GDP versus the percentage of people who are looking for casual sex on the site. Ultimately, he said, users are just looking for fun and convenience. But the average visit to the site lasts 20 minutes, since users must sift through messages or work on developing enough of a rapport with someone to attempt a first date.

Using the Crazy Blind Date app, the time spent on a smartphone can be less than two minutes. Your co-worker says you look good today? Go on a date tonight, and the app will pull options based on OKCupid's algorithm. Less forethought could be a good thing, said Sarah Wexler, author of "Awful First Dates: Hysterical, True, and Heartbreakingly Bad."

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