Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemi Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemimah_knight or drop a line to [email protected]
Cupid, the Scottish publisher of online dating communities, is expanding its portfolio in the US with the launch of mature dating site LoveAgain along with a matching Facebook app.
The new site is designed specifically of the older dating market and as with most dating sites users can search for love, friendship or fun. Cupid CEO Bill Dobbie says that the time is right to push the company’s existing presence State-side, “This has been in planning for most of this year. We’ve been experimenting with this service in the UK and Australia while we built up the U.S. database.”
The latest addition follows its recent launches in the territory with Cupid.com, BeNaughty and Flirt which the company is supporting with online and offline marketing across the US and Canada.
LoveAgain is the US version of Cupid’s existing UK site for the over 40s, MatureDatingUK. The company has worked on the release of niche dating sites to try to help users find matches in ways that will be more likely to suit them for age, interests and goals.
Dobbie believes that by providing specialist sites for the U.S. market, Cupid has a better chance of getting past the big players, “It’s an identifiable market and it allows us to compete against more established players with larger data bases. It doesn’t make sense to take them on head to head, so a niche approach from Be Naughty, Flirt and LoveAgain can target the gaps.” The hope is that by selecting a specific group for dating, that matches will be more accurate.
Cupid has a close eye on the American territories of course and acquisition is not off the agenda as the firm expands, “It’s expensive to build critical mass,” says Dobbie. “We’ve spent around 25 million pounds to date and now it is starting to convert. If we find the right priced acquisition in the US we could accelerate our growth.”
The new service is designed for a community to mix freely. There are ways to message directly, have a quick chat or join a more open chat room.
Members of the site can connect on the Web, via mobile or on the Facebook app, which is a bit more open than the usual walled gardens provided by dating sites hoping their users will subscribe and not stray over social borders.
However, Dobbie feels that open social networks are not the most comfortable places to find a date. “People can go to these places anyway. Sometimes when you’re on something like Facebook there can be too many diversions. Sometimes you just want to spend time in a more focused environment. These social networks are also a very open place where you share things with your friends, a dating site like LoveAgain can provide more privacy.”
Cupid was established in 2005 and now along with the new digital presence, the company is also expanding geographically. “We’re opening an office in San Francisco where a team should be installed by January 2013. Also in January, we’re building a team of around ten people to take care of the commercial end of its business,” says Dobbie.
Cupid already has an integrated team that works between Scotland, the Ukraine and Germany. There are also plans for a small team to set up camp in France. “The Internet lets us do things that we could not imagine before and this means we have a growing presence in European countries,” says Dobbie. “We’re generating significant revenue in 15 countries now with registrations in over 60.”
Earlier this year Cupid bought military love site Uniform Dating for around £7m, the latest in a line of other acquisitions that is seeing grow fast as an international base of dating websites. This vertical is another area where Dobbie hopes to spread the service internationally, “It’s growing really well in the UK but we hope to release it in the US and Australia in the foreseeable future. There’s a viable niche market in both of those territories,” he says.
Image Credit: OscarE
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