London review of books dating
In 2011 they sold the company for $50 million to IAC, the corporation that now owns Match.Like Match, OK Cupid has its users fill out a questionnaire.
One afternoon a routine email with a purchase order attached to it arrived in his inbox. At the time, emails from women in his line of work were exceedingly rare. Then there was the scarcity of women with online access.The photos arrived as hard copy, and Kremen and his employees scanned them in by hand.Interested single people who did not yet have email could participate by fax.They rented an office in a basement in San Francisco and registered the domain ‘ROMANCE – LOVE – SEX – MARRIAGE AND RELATIONSHIPS’ read the headline on an early business plan Electric Classifieds presented to potential investors.‘American business has long understood that people knock the doors down for dignified and effective services that fulfil these most powerful human needs.’ Kremen eventually removed ‘sex’ from his list of needs, but many of the basic parts of most online dating sites were laid out in this early document.When I met him, at a conference on the internet dating industry in Miami last January, he asked where I was from.
‘Ah, Minnesota,’ he said: ‘Have you ever been to the Zumbro River?
’ The Zumbro flows south of Minneapolis past Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic. ’ Then he had another idea: what if he had a database of all the single women in the world?
It turned out that Kremen had once driven, or been driven, into the river. In Miami Kremen recounted the genesis of his ideas about internet dating to a room full of matchmakers. If he could create such a database and charge a fee to access it, he would most probably turn a profit.
He turned his back to me to watch the monitor over the pool tables, where the pool players now applauded some exploit. That night I scrolled until I found a handsome man who had written a benign invitation: ‘Let’s get a drink.’ I looked at his profile. The man generally held responsible for internet dating as we know it today is a native of Illinois called Gary Kremen, but Kremen was out of the internet dating business altogether by 1997, just around the time people were signing up for the internet en masse.
Today he runs a solar energy financing company, is an elected official in Los Altos Hills, California and is better known for his protracted legal battle over the ownership of the pornography website than he is for inventing internet dating.
A more mobile workforce meant that single people often lived in cities they didn’t know and the chummy days when a father might set his daughter up with a junior colleague were over.