Silicon Valley Insider’s SAI Digital published a list of the 100 “most valuable internet startups”, and while most of the usual suspects were on the list (Facebook, Zynga, Wikipedia, Skype, Craigslist, Twitter, Vente-Privee, Yandex, Betfair, and LinkedIn make up the top ten) one Canadian startup made the list: Vancouver-based Plenty of Fish at #84.
Yes, the free online dating site Plenty of Fish has been run from Vancouver since its start years ago. Now to correct SAI Digital, I know that POF has more than one employee than founder Markus Frind (last I heard his girlfriend was helping as well as they hired some more programming talent recently) and I believe they moved POF from Markus’ apartment to a “real office” in the last year or so.
However, the genius moniker for Markus is pretty much bang on. When I interviewed Markus a couple of years ago (good time to touch base I think), he worked maybe an hour or two a day (often less) to make sure the site was working correctly and the ads were serving. That was pretty much it. Markus built the system to run with the least amount of human interference. While other dating sites (Match.com, Toronto-founded Lavalife, eHarmony, and the like) started with a model of charing people to use the site and connect with people, Markus followed something more of the Craigslist model with letting people use the site for free and having ads pay for it.
Apparently Markus’ gamble worked.
Oh and you might scoff at online dating sites, but I met my wife through online dating.
On Plenty of Fish, in fact.