Plenty of Fish is a 100% Free online dating and matchmaking service for singles that was started four years ago by Markus Frind because he could see people were wasting money on paid dating and matchmaking sites. It has grown from a nickel and dime operation run from the owner's apartment to a huge business with 30 million pageviews a day....still run from the owner's apartment. But now he's making $10,000 a day as well as making a lot of singles happy by finding them relationships and love.
The success of PlentyofFish isn't just in its free service - its in the very sophisticated algorithms that Markus wrote and uses. He explains it on his site -
The CP was designed to pair people who come from very diverse backgrounds – such as are found on dating sites like POF that have a huge, global membership base. In a group like this it is always possible to find people with significant and healthy differences (or complementarities) in their personal characteristics. Accordingly, the CP firstly assesses the degree that two people have the right recipe of similarities. In other words, good partner candidates should have similar profiles of personal characteristics.
Profile similarity alone is not sufficient. Decades of empirical research on the ingredients that make a healthy and satisfying relationship suggest that intimate partners who have strong similarities across key personal characteristics are more satisfied in their relationships and are less likely to break up than are partners that differ on those key characteristics. Thus, secondly, regardless of profile, simply being similar matters as well.
Thus, to maximize potential satisfaction the matching algorithm takes into account both the rank ordering between two persons’ profiles and the overall level of their scores on the relationship factors. This approach works extremely well, while simultaneously avoiding some of the problems in other systems that focus on one of these approaches in isolation.
If you don't understand that (and I don't blame you) Markus has described his algorithms more succinctly elsewhere as -
I've invented stuff like multi-dimensional wheel sieve. I create very advanced algorithms. The more you search and the more you use the site, the more it limits your view of the people you see. So if you only message smokers, then it doesn't matter what pages you're on, you're only going to see smokers. It generates a database on the site that's built around your preferences, which is something that no other dating site is capable of doing yet. It's technically not feasible for them at least using known algorithms. I invented algorithms that no one else thought were feasible. What you say you want and what you actually want are two different things. It hardly ever corresponds on a dating site. So I just track a user and see what they're actually doing on the site and then show them matches based on their actual surfing preferences. My site is deceptively simple but no one knows just how complex it is under the surface.
What he's saying is that if a girl says she's looking for a nice boy-next-door type who's an accountant and wants to get married but the tracking shows she's checking out Tattooed rock band drummers who love to party, he'll show her more matches of the latter.
PlentyofFish also uses what Markus calls a Relationship Needs Assessment that determines in great detail a person’s overt and hidden needs in a relationship. But that’s not all. This assessment provides users with highly specific guidance for putting the results in practice. Therefore, each user receives customized “Action Plans” that outline specific questions and topics for the user to ask or explore with potential partners.
These “Action Plans” are based entirely on the unique answer patterns of the test taker, so everyone receives guidance that is custom-made for them. There is nothing like this assessment on the Internet today.
It's no wonder that Markus Frind has been able to write his own algorithms - it's not very well known - but Markus was the instigator of a project that on July 24th 2004 discovered the worlds first 23 primes in arithmetic progression. 56,211,383,760,397 +K*44,546,738,095,860 for K =0 to 22. I think this means this guy is a genius. Here's what he says about it -
Several years ago I came up with a algorithm that was thousands of times faster then anything else known at finding long chains of primes in sequences. I created the application, and then recruited Paul Jobling and Paul Underwood to provide computers to aid in finding the record.
In 2004 Terry Tao (an Australian) solved one of the hardest problems in Math and cited our record http://arxiv.org/pdf/math.NT/0404188Earlier this year I refined the program and found several more chains of 23 primes. I am amazed I managed to create this program in the first place, I barely even understand how it works and I wrote it. This is because the program scans in multiple dimensions is very hard to conceptualize. At any rate I think its cool that my record is cited in the Fields Medals press release.
The Fields Medal - is a prize awarded to up to four young mathematicians (less than 40 years old) each International Congress of the International Mathematical Union, a meeting that takes place every four years. It's is widely viewed as the top honor a mathematician can receive. Interestingly my wife's uncle, Alain Connes, won the medal back in 1982. Eggheads can read more about Arithmetical Progressions here.
PlentyofFish is a one man show run on five or six servers; one database server, one web server, an image server and a mail server. As Markus says "It's a dating site; it's not rocket science. You don't need thousands of servers".
PlentyofFish is making $5-$10 Million a year - Google Adsense's biggest earner. Markus talks about his life here in his Plentyoffish blog
I’ve come a long way in the last 3 years, today I’ve single handily built the largest dating site in the world with no employees. The site generates more relationships than Match.com yet only makes a tiny tiny fraction of Match.com’s 300 Million a year. So today I sit at a turning point, the site has over 1.1 billion pageviews and 45 million visitors a month, the maintaince and all that annoying stuff is growing fast and there is no way to effectively monetize the site without employees.
I can either sell and walk away with a few hundred million or start an office and grow the site. So in the coming weeks/months i’m going to turn my hobby into a business. Like anyone else founding a startup, i’m going to go get myself a business lisence so I can get office space. Then go office space hunting, set up the office, put up job descriptions etc etc.
The main goal is to start replacing adsense/dating ads and hire sales people. I spent the last few weeks working long days optimizing my ad revenue and as a result adding over a million a year net per week of work. Yet compared to match.com all these efforts are really just rounding errors. At the end of the day its not possible for me optimize revenues myself or to outsource sales as no one vender could sell more than 3% of my inventory. I am at a size now were there are no off the shelf solutions and everything has to be built from the ground up.This is going to be an insane next few months, Right out of the gate my hobby turned business plentyoffish is a Top 30 site in the US based on Competes Attention metric, Top 10 in Canada and Top 30 in the UK.
"I can either sell and walk away with a few hundred million" - I love the way he just casually says that. I reckon he's having too much fun, don't you? All that might change once he takes on an office and staff. This guy just amazes me. BTW - you notice he can't spell to save his life? (Not having a go at you Markus - I find it funny :-))
Millions and millions of dollars from a free online dating and matchmaking for singles looking for love and relationships. Who says there's not Plenty of Fish.