|Traded as||LSE: CUP|
|Key people||Bill Dobbie, co-founder & CEO
Max Polyakox, co-Founder (no longer involved with the company)
Niall Stirling, CFO and Company Secretary
Mark Doughty, Commercial Director
Phil Gripton, Managing Director of Dating Services
Tatyana Seredyuk, Senior VP, North America
|Products||Cupid.com, Flirt.com, BeNaughty.com, other|
|Users||54 million (June 2012)|
|Available in||English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, other|
Cupid Plc is the owner and operator of multiple high-volume online dating websites, covering the range from mainstream to niche audiences. The full network of websites is available worldwide in a variety of languages, and by the end of the first half of 2012 more than 54 million users had created profiles in the company’s websites. As is customary among all internet dating companies, all of their products are available across multiple devices (web, mobile, Android, iOS) and platforms (on web browsers, within Facebook).
Founded in 2005 by Bill Dobbie and Max Polyakov, the company was originally made up of a range of dating websites operated from and off-shore base. In 2006, Polyakov and Dobbie acquired the EasyDate business and brand to complement and serve as an umbrella for their network of sites, which had been experiencing a steady growth in user base. The company quickly grew its user base – by 2007 they had their first million paying users, and a few years after that they hit an impressive 13 million paying users across all networks.
By early March 2010, the user base was growing at a rate of 300,000 per month, and new products were succeeding in increasing these numbers and expanding the user base. A year later, in May 2011, the company boasted 23 million members in 39 countries. The company was named as Scotland's fastest growing technology firm by Deloitte in its October 2011 Fast 500 listing, and in May 2012, went on to be awarded the UK Stock Market Awards 2012 award for Best Travel & Leisure PLC.
This success, and the desire to fund further growth, prompted the company to become listed in the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange (AIM). Upon admission, the company had an approximate market capitalisation of £45 million. The fresh capital brought about by the listing enabled the company to perform some strategic acquisitions in markets where it had detected potential, like France, Germany, the USA, and Brazil. On 24 July 2012, Cupid Plc announced that it had acquired the French dating site Assistance Genie Logiciel (AGL) for the sum of €3.7 million. The deal to buy the 1986-founded company includes French dating sites amour.com, serencontrer.com and ulla.com. Also in 2012 Cupid acquired Uniform Dating, a niche website aimed at uniformed services personnel such as firefighters, nurses, armed forces and police.
In February 2013, the company was the subject of BBC Radio 5live Investigates programme. Users told the BBC that they had received many messages from potential dates as free users of the site but that, when they paid for membership to be able to reply, the volume of messages dramatically decreased. The company denied that it was sending the messages to entice users to pay for membership and has commissioned an independent audit into its operation. After a subsequent investigation into these claims, one of the sources of the accusations made a public apology regarding factual inaccuracies in his blog postings on the subject.
Business and products
Cupid’s business can be split into two main areas: mainstream dating websites, aimed at the general public with some level of differentiation between them (for example, Cupid.com is aimed at people looking for a steady partner in a more long-term relationship, whereas BeNaughty.com is geared towards users looking for more casual dating); and niche websites, where the whole concept fundamentally hinges on the users looking for partners of a similar background and tastes.
Some of Cupid’s main sites are:
- Cupid.com – mainstream dating website aimed at longer term relationships. Cupid.com is not to be confused with OkCupid, the rival dating site owned by IAC.
- Speeddater.com and Speeddater.co.uk - in addition to a website, also organise 'speed dating' events across the UK.
- BeNaughty.com – this site aims at the casual dating market, but with a cheekier and more sensual brand image throughout.
- Flirt.com - this site is also aimed at the casual dating market.
- GirlsDateForFree.com – as the name implies, female users do not need to pay in order to interact with other users, unlike other websites.
- DatingForParents.com – this website is aimed at single parents looking to meet other single parents for friendship or sentimental relationships
- PlanetSappho.com – the target market for this website is homosexual women of all ages, worldwide.
- UniformDating.com – this site is aimed at people in the armed services, police forces, firefighters, and medical services, and those interested in dating within that group.
- MatureDatingUK.com – this website is directed to middle aged users in the UK who are looking for friendship and other types of relationships.
- IndianDating.com – while available worldwide, this website is directed more towards the Indian expatriate and immigrant population in the USA, as well as to Indian Americans.
The business model varies slightly depending on the website. In most cases, users can join for free – this gives them access to the website and allows them to browse the profiles of other users. Once they are ready to begin interacting with someone, the website charges depending on the level of access the user wants. This is a fairly common practice across the industry. Cupid makes most of their business through the charging of these fees, as there is no advertising on their websites.
In addition to this, Cupid also partners with other companies in order to provide a branded, specifically targeted online dating experience. For example, in December 2010, the company announced a product in conjunction with WhatsOnStage.com (a theatre review and ticket sales website). The result of this collaboration was TheatreDate.com, a niche site aimed at theatre lovers which combined Cupid’s expertise in delivering a solid online dating service with WhatsOnStage.com’s experience catering to theatre enthusiasts and the general theatre going public.
The company had been trading as EasyDate since 2006, when it acquired the name. Because of this, it was under that name that it became initially listed in the markets (as EasyDate plc). However, in December 2010, as a result of pressure from easyGroup founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the company changed its name. The name Cupid plc was chosen as it had been acquired in September of that year, along with all associated domains for £4.4 million.
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