Online dating can be a good way to find a special someone for Valentine’s Day. But as a business, the romance is wearing thin. The industry has grown at a measly 1 percent annually since 2006, according to research firm IbisWorld. That’s in part because sites such as EHarmony and Match.com face a quandary: Every time their product is successful, they lose two customers.
Shayan Zadeh and Alex Mehr, both 33-year-old Internet entrepreneurs from Iran, think they have a solution. They’re the co-founders and co-chief executive officers of Zoosk, a four-year-old dating site in San Francisco. It’s successful, with about 15 million active users each month, but lately the duo has been thinking of ways to spur growth by becoming more like LinkedIn, a hub for job seekers that’s also a destination for people not actively looking for a new gig. Dating sites match couples and then say, “We’re done with you, now move on, there’s nothing here for you,” says Zadeh, speaking from Zoosk’s downtown headquarters in a former Yahoo! office. “We feel that we can change that paradigm and provide more services along the way and throughout your life.”