OPW Interview – Plentyoffish CEO, Markus Frind - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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Fernando Ardenghi

"How many employees do you have?.....
Just me, myself and I.... "
See http://www.plentyoffish.com/about.aspx
"The People ... and i've recently suckered my girlfriend into helping answer some emails. ... I would like to thank the handful of volunteer moderators who make sure the forums aren't overrun by spam. "
And "There are one million people who have moderating powers in the Plentyoffish forum".
Are they employees without salaries?


> "I met Markus at iDate2005 and barely gave him the time of day"

Now see - that's why people shouldn't act like that! :p


i dont know your history, but were u always in some sort of technical or computer field?

Bill Broadbent

Hey Markus,

I love you man. How about a loan? Hope you don't sell out for a long time - no need to. I knew your model rocked, but are you really growing that much virally? A few servers and bandwidth and 10% advertising, anything else? Expanding beyond dating? What happens to the numbers if you really start to hockey stick in the US? Damn man, don't forget your supporters. LOL


Bill Broadbent


Looks like almost everyone thought he was "hokey" until they saw that check. Seeing your increased coverage, when did you believe the reality of his model? How do you think this influences the industry?


Bill Broadbent


A lot of people barely gave Markus the time of day at iDate 2005. I first thought the same thing. Then I heard Jon Ward of eHarmony say something to Markus at the Safedate party that made me really look into what he was doing. He said something along the lines of "your the guy I want to get to know." Jon is one of the sharp guys in the sector, so I knew he saw the potential. That got me to really take a look at it. I knew a little about PlentyofFish, but looked at it as simply a good traffic generating site. What I found was a site that was growing with what looked like minimal promotion. I know his early days were using a lot of irrelovant and obscure PPC search terms, in fact Markus admitted it, but he could only take that so far. He grew through community. A community of people fine with being called fish, can you believe it? (That could get you slapped where I come from.)

There is a Chinese Proverb that says "The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." A lot of people laughed at him, he just got it done. He boasted about what he was doing, now everyone can see that it was true (especially if he is only spending 10% on marketing). Will his candor push others to his model. I'd say it is highly likely.


David Evans

I continue to me intrigued by the algorithms Markus has created. To me, thats the real value of what he has created. Dating site rankings are often highly suspect, difficult to believe anything these days, but numbers on a check are cold fast reality, and impressive.

I don't buy the hundreds of servers statement. The top few sites have a lot of redundancy built in, somthing POF doesn't at the moment.

Mark, why do you confuse POF with web 2.0? Bulletin boards do not put a site in this category.

I would put POF near the top of a category for making money on advertising on a free site that drives visitors to other sites through affiliate marketing.

We don't have to wait for 3 other large free sites to know the dating industry is in trouble.

Starting a company that doesn't have a defined revenue stream is perfectly fine in certain circumstances.

However, in the dating space, subscription-based services are pretty much impossible to start at this point, with very few exceptions.

Sam Moorcroft, ChristianCafe.com

Marcus, as you well know, I was one of the major doubting Thomas', but now I am a believer, and, I have to admit, an admirer - hey, I was wrong and you were right! (my wife makes me say that a lot to her, so I am used it;-)

Bill has been rooting for you for a while now, when no one else was. As I said, when he called me on it, "I have to hand it to you Marcus, you have proven me wrong! I publicly stand corrected!"

Good for you - I hope those AdSense cheques go from $450K/month to $4.5M/month!


Thanks Sam, I hope they go up as well!

The trueth is though that I'm not making that much money for what I have and other sites are making more per CPM. Date.com, Lavalife.com,loveaccess.com, True.com have ads displaying. Americansingles said in their quarter conference call they are building a huge adnetwork.

People are impressed with the check, but they forget just how massive Plentyoffish.com is. In terms of pageviews ie potential pages for ads it is clearly the third largest in North America. I keep forgetting I don't track all my pageviews in one place, but its around 20 million pageviews a day when added all together.

20 million REAL pageviews is more then date.com, lavalife.com,loveaccess.com and true.com get combined per day.

Here is a quote from date.com http://www.onlinedatingmagazine.com/industry/bios/meirstrahlberg.html

"Date.com’s advertising revenues have doubled in the past few months to 10 percent of total revenue"

Because plentyoffish isn't paid I'm letting at least $150,000 a day in revenue slip by from subscriptions which sounds about right.

Should the entire Dating industry in the USA go free, the total revenue that could be had would be between 40 and 50 million/year?

Sam Moorcroft, ChristianCafe.com

Yes, but your strength is based on the free model, so you can't say that you are losing out by not having paid subscriptions. It would completely change your dynamics (not to mention your KSF), consequently I don't think you can calculate *any* figure for money slipping by - this is not something you can quantify.

And, you could hardly have a paid model and keep on going as a staff of one.

You may be right, though, about your earnings relative to your size. However, given your particular model (and success), which is *unique*, again, I am not sure it is a fair comparison. I don't know how you would begin to quantify it.

Mind you, there have to be other ways for you to monetize POF, e.g. consider Meir's comment on http://www.onlinedatingmagazine.com/industry/bios/meirstrahlberg.html:

"...Date.com’s advertising revenues have doubled in the past few months to 10 percent of total revenue partially because the company can target an advertiser's products to almost any demographic based on user profiles..."

Alexander Shetinin

Markus, it's been less than 2 months when u decleared an all-out war against paying dating sites. What happened to u that u started thinking to joint the crowd?
Was it MySpace's plans to switch to paid subscription mode?

Fernando Ardenghi

Did you notice that Off Line Chains for Matchmaking/Dating, instead of disappearing, are still alive with good health?

Dating Industry: Off Line Chains (U.S./Canada market= USD 600 million) + On Line Sites (U.S./Canada market= USD 600 million by memberships)
Whole U.S./Canada Dating Industry market= USD1,200 million

There are more than 900 "Online Dating & Social Networking Sites" at the United States and Canada, but .....
Do many USA/Canadian Online Dating sites exist in order to allow OffLine Dating chains have an annual revenue of USD 600 Million AND top 10 Online Dating sites have an annual revenue of USD500 million by memberships (estimated)?


Fernando Ardenghi.
Buenos Aires.
[email protected]

Sam Moorcroft, ChristianCafe.com

Fernando, where are you seeing that off-line dating services have annual revenues of $600M US/year? I didn't think they were anywhere close to the online dating revenues in the US.

Fernando Ardenghi

Mr. Moorcroft:

Perhaps I should have used the term "OffLine Methods" instead of "OffLine Chains".

MarketData SITRAS Size: 274 KB "US Dating Industry Trends"
John LaRosa President - MarketData Enterprises
(but the file could not be download any more)

At page 6
year 2004
OffLine Methods involving Chains (USD159 million) + Independent matchmakers (USD229 million) + Personal ads, radio station datelines (USD178 million) == USD566 million

year 2008 Forecast:
Chains (USD184 million) + Independent matchmakers (USD255 million) + Personal ads, radio station datelines (USD178 million) == USD617 million

Dating Industry: OffLine METHODS (U.S./Canada market nearly USD600 million) + OnLine Sites (U.S./Canada market nearly USD600 million by memberships)
Whole U.S./Canada Dating Industry market nearly USD1,200 million


Fernando Ardenghi.
Buenos Aires.
[email protected]

Ersan Ozer

I think Marcus need a developer team any longer. PlentyofFish is full of bugs. Registration doesn't work. (Yes! Can you believe this?) Password reminder doesn't work. Add favorites doesn't work. (Only in session it does.) God! Who are using this BugParadise?


Turkey is on the list of banned countries.

Jean Paul

Nice job of Markus he made a site and made some money, it is really great that someone does it all by himself or with a little help.

I also made a site to make friends, date, just get in contact with others all by myself called Me Tarzan You Jane http://www.MeTarzanYouJane.eu

I'm not a company and yes I also started this to learn some aspx. I normally programmed asp but wanted to change to a newer more powerfull language.

The site now is english an can cope with a lot of extra members. So if you want some real honest site then support me and sign yourself and your friends up. All free.

You can also contact me via the site if you have any questions, have ideas and I will improve the site further.


think he'll enjoy success for a few more years... then he should sell...
I (disgruntled user)didn't particularly enjoy
being run through the fish sorting algorithm...
sooner or later...
sorting people,
and who they can contact,
using that method will result in nobody being able to contact anyone...
good for him...
I'm glad he's making money...
I hope he invests it wisely...
I've been reading this page...
and I've heard comment's like Low quality
contacts etc...
and really...
except for spam...
people will resent being treated like a number, or low quality anything...
I remember yahoo when it was free...
and it really wasn't that useful...
so a $20 monthly fee didn't improve it...
PoF is just as unless...
but it has the advantage of being free...
unless you count the aggravation of swimming up stream against his filter...
then it makes yahoos $20 seem more reasonable
I want to be able to browse the whole data base...
if I inadvertently look ant mostly smokers...
I don't want to be excluded from looking at non smokers...
(I'm a non smoker)
I wonder if the size of his member database includes profiles of people who don't really use his service anymore...
because they find it to prejudice or judgmental...
but probably... that isn't really irrelevant here...
because this sight is all about
the Numbers AKA $$$
but at some point the service will
effect the revenue...
but people aren't fish... they're sheep...
so it probable won't happen for some time...
but like I said... invest your money wisely...
and sell at the top of the curve...
like all good plans poorly executed...
Plenty of Fish will be replaced by something else...
here is a thread detailing some of the reasons people flee PoF...
you won't find any threads detailing the shortcoming of PoF... on his page,
because he wisely deletes any criticism,
constructive or otherwise...


Yes, POF has some bugs, but it is not about the bugs. It is about a website that is supported by hundreds of thousands of members who can find their love.
And yes, he blocks a few countries (including mine...) but anyone who ever built a large site know that sometimes this is a must... even if it is not the best way to do it...

free dating

I agree with MLH. Though it's great that he's making money out of his online dating site, a lot more quite interesting one's are coming along. And we all know the fluidity when it comes to the internet.May be he should consider adding some features to the site like PC-to-PC call and the like. There are very few free dating sites with so much features installed.

dating site

its really amazing work. This guy is really great. One man army. I have a dating site > www.datingsitefree4all.com
I am working hard. I hope i will earn atleast 1/10 of plenty of fish


Bill, you’d be amazed at what happens when you prevent people from emailing you if they haven’t read the FAQ.

but if they have read the FAQ you seem to just delete them anyway ?

ok so I sent an email to every type of option. I am at a loss now what to to if you can not be contacted I supose i can only mail you each time hoping that one day I might get a reply.

please tell me why my profile keeps getting deleted



Free online dating services for singles at Freedatingmarriage.com. 100% Free online dating site. Stop paying money to join dating sites. Free dating, Chat, Email messaging and Free personals. www.freedatingmarriage.com


I've seen the "free" this & that theme popping up a lot and drew some inspiration from what I'd read about Markus, which resulted in the creation of http://SearchNearMe.com. While still in its infancy, it offers free dating, vehicle, real-estate, and general classifieds, business & events promotion, and much, much more to come - all on one site, all from one account. 100% Free. No Fees. No Fuss.
Comments welcome.


The following is a quote from moderator Ticketoride in the forums to a member:

Member:And for the record, I am NOT affected ny this flag BUT I TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH IT!!!


Ticketoride: "The first step in this direction was taken about 1 year ago to limit Site Access to numerous foreign countries, answering up to the flood-calls from the wild such as:

"Me maka luv to u long time".

Act II: ... Gurjingh & Rashneesh walking up the Forum Planks proclaiming "Racism" and "Discrimination". From a more technical Perspective, the Site was constantly being bogged down by this Type of Non-Sense.

As the Site continued to grow, further similar Implementations were put into effect such as refining E-Mail Blocking, "Instant Messenger" Tools, Profile Hiding, and streamlining Reporting Functions.

This newer particular Feature under Question was brought into Existance as the Result of endless Abuse by too many Men on this Site mass-mailing the Inboxes of too many Women who were not interested in any "Intimate Encounter" Relationships. Their Mailboxes were cluttered up to the point where "ease of oversight" was lost and were practically forced to delete their Profiles and start anew.

Doesn't leave a very favourable impression among Women of this Dating Site.


*****The only thing being driven away are people who believe that Nazism shuld be a thing of the past and that public hatemongering of non-caucasians should be prosecuted.*****


I think Marcus should be commended for his achievement in the free online dating market. He has done what the paid dating sites have failed to do- to create a very user friendly site that offers more features. People do not need to pay hefty prices to meet other singles today.
He was actually my friend's inspiration to start a free dating site called http://www.allsinglesmeet.com . She actually started it with no html knowledge. Just a desire to make a great free dating site

seo consultant

as someone offering seo services i know how tough it is to rank free online dating sites which do not have huge advertizing budgets...so Kudos to you Markus for not only making a very user friendly site, but also managing to get it rank well.

Dating Site

I think Markus is absolutely amazing!! As the owner of a free online dating site I know how tough the competition is. We constantly work at optimization and keeping our standards high.
He is a really smart guy and is deserving of his success!

Jon Sandler

Thats a great article sounds like a smart guy and thats one hell of a adsense check

Free dating partner

I read the similar article somewhere but every time I read, I am impressed about Mr. Markus. He is so smart.
Thanks for sharing.


Plentyoffish is heads and tails above friendpad. What I like is that the site has an increasingly number of features that people really want to use. There is no clutter or BS. Plus, they have tests/quizzes that sure seem to be higher in quality and usefulness than all the other sites (the tests actually coach people in specific ways and this is something unheard of before).

Keep up the good work, plentyoffish!


No doubt plentyoffish is the best dating site on the net.

web development


What's the best way to start out getting sign ups for a small dating site (one that doesn't want to take over the world, but just wants to make $10k a month or so)?

Easy SEO Blog

There are so many different software packages out there really. I use SpyFu for free results, someone who generates a great percentage of their revenue off of pay per click might consider something like PPC Web Spy.

I have an article on my blog about analyzing your competition that covers this topic a little more thoroughly.

Free Dating Ireland

Why don't you get a least a web-designer?
Not even full time but just to get things to look correct, just once.
Other than that, I love this business model (make it free and get from the adv), but once the traffic is very big you can switch to a paid one.
It will be easier to maintain and you'll earn more money.
Leave some space to the coming ones ;)

Robert from Dating Asia

I'm in the same boat as the last post. I think plenty was one of the first dating sites to be totally free. That was my inspiration to start my own site Asiandatingfree.com . It's an interesting type of site to work with. From a webmasters point of view dating sites are perfect because the content of the site is created by the users themselves. The only problem is the moderation. To a certain extent the users can moderate by reporting bad members. As for organising parties well I guess that's a fair way off.


I'm interested to know just how much sites like myspace and facebook will really impact on the regular dating sites. It could be that dating sites will still be here in the long term. My reasoning is that there's a degree of straight forward honesty about creating a profile on a dating site. You're basically saying "I'm here to find a date" . Facebook or myspace is not so specific and to the point. So here's hoping the dating niche will still be here for a while yet.

Mark Brooks

Social networking sites have taken traffic and attention from idating sites. But they have also expanded the market and fed people back to idating. I think there's a net gain. The idating industry continues to expand, albeit nowhere near as fast as Facebook.


I echo the OP's views, I think may people see Marcus as being a bit of a headless chicken at times but you can't fault him for his business credentials which have got him to where he is now


Plenty of fish is a great site bur the down fall to free dating sites is that members find free dating sites as expendable, so they get bored of the site easily and then leave because they have nothing at stake as such, but with dating websites that you pay to become a full member, members tend to really give online dating a go and they become much more successful in their search for the love of their life.


Why Can I not log into my account , I have set one up twice in past 2 days, when I try to log in , I can't , Won't recognize my e-mail and would not let be download pics on my account???

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