“Mention Match.com, and see how many say they met their partner on there, or encouraged a relative to go on it, or know someone who has.” When launched in April 1995, there were only 25 million internet users worldwide, compared to 2.92 billion in 2015.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.“I was worried that people would think I couldn’t get a boyfriend normally. Things were different, too – I didn’t have a laptop and certainly didn’t have internet on my phone, so I was logging on in my lunch break at work.” Then, Jane, a 28-year-old travel saleswoman from Twickenham, west London, came across Andreas Palikiras, an olive-skinned marketing manager from Corfu.
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”.
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.
“Try this experiment next time you’re out for dinner with a group of friends,” suggests Gregory, who is Match.com’s UK manager and European director.
“It started off as sheer geek territory,” says Gregory. Stigma was high.” Jane Stuart barely told anyone when she set up a profile on the site in 2001.
“Back then, there was a sense of 'Oh, you must be really desperate,’” she says.
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.
Eric Klien, a Las Vegas-based entrepreneur, had spent six months pondering the dilemma of dating.