POF (dating website)
British Columbia, Canada
Markus Frind (Founder)
|Revenue||US$100 million (2014 estimated)|
Number of employees
POF, formerly known as PlentyOfFish, is a Canadian online dating service, popular primarily in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and the United States. It is available in nine languages. The company, based in Vancouver, British Columbia generates revenue through advertising and premium memberships. While it is free to use, PlentyOfFish offers premium services as part of their upgraded membership, such as who has "liked" a member through the service's MeetMe feature, and allowing users to see whether a message has been read and/or deleted. On July 14, 2015, PlentyOfFish was sold for $575 million to The Match Group (owner of Match.com, OKCupid and Tinder, based in Dallas). The headquarters remain in Vancouver and have recently been expanded.
In 2004, PlentyOfFish became a full-time business for Frind. He ran the site independently until 2008, when he began hiring other employees at his new Vancouver headquarters. In 2009, PlentyOfFish also launched a contest with Lady Gaga allowing single members to go together and meet the singer during The Fame Ball Tour.
The website for PlentyOfFish appeared in several music videos in 2010: in Lady Gaga's "Telephone", Natasha Bedingfield's "Touch", Ke$ha's "We R Who We R", Flo Rida and Akon's "Available", Jason Derulo's "Ridin' Solo", and 3OH!3's "Double Vision". In 2011, it appeared in Britney Spears's music video for "Hold It Against Me". Many of these appearances are undisclosed paid product placements which have been met with highly negative reviews.
In 2010, PlentyOfFish launched mobile apps for iPhone and Android. But now it is also available in iPad, and Windows phone. As of May 2013, about 70% of PlentyOfFish's logins come from mobile devices. In a June 2014 interview, Frind edited this number and now attributes 85% of all PlentyOfFish traffic to mobile with the number growing weekly.
On January 21, 2011, it was discovered that the PlentyOfFish website had been hacked which exposed the personal and password information on nearly 30 million user accounts. Since the alleged hacking incident, Frind alleges he has identified persons he believes are responsible for the hacking, and alleges he is threatening legal action in response to the widespread negative media exposure. At the time this received global media exposure and security experts blamed PlentyOfFish for the security and privacy lapse specifically for keeping users' passwords unsecured.
On February 28, 2012, the parents of US Army Lieutenant Peter Burks sued PlentyOfFish. The parents' lawsuit alleges photos of their son, who was killed in Iraq in 2007, were used without permission. The parents were seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Paul Bloudoff, the firm’s legal affairs manager responded by saying "Lt. Burks’ image was never used by POF.com in any way, shape or form, [a] third-party advertiser, with no affiliation to PlentyOfFish, ran an ad promoting another dating site using Lt. Burks’ picture, and one of the places this advertiser ran this ad happened to be our site."
In an August 2012 interview, Markus Frind stated that based on the millions of relationships and marriages PlentyOfFish has created over the past several years, it is estimated that over one million babies have been born as a result of the website.
On May 20, 2013, Frind implemented several changes to the website with the stated goal of focusing on "meaningful relationships". Among these changes were the removal of the "intimate encounters" option. A related eliminated feature was the option to contact clients of age differences greater than "Markus", presumably Frind, found tasteful. Although the PlentyOfFish site and its "matching" criteria continue to match couples with age differences greater than the 14 year guideline, attempts to contact these "matches" resulted in an inbox message from Markus stating, among other things, "[t]here is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact a 18 year old woman." Another implementation included with the changes is no longer allowing male users to attach images to messages. Additionally, the site automatically blocks messages from male users containing certain words while showing such messages as being sent.
The image sending restriction was apparently reversed after PlentyOfFish was acquired by Match Group (but not "quick messages" directly from the match's profile page) and members outside of the 14 year age limit no longer appear as matches or in searches. Attempting to contact members outside of the 14 year limit now displays a pages stating the user does not meet the member's contact criteria (even when untrue) and suggests several matches to contact instead of sending a message to the user's inbox.
The site relied on volunteers to monitor forums and sort through the 50,000 new photos that come in each day. By 2012 PlentyOfFish employed 75 people, including programmers, marketing managers, and customer service representatives.
- Registered users: 100,000,000 (March 2015)
- Dating site ranking in the UK: 1 (Comscore May 2011)
- Dating site ranking Worldwide: 1 (Hitwise, August 2011)
- U.S. site by market share: 1, with 18.57% of the market (Hitwise, August 2012)
- Number of page views a month: 2 Billion (April 2012)
- In 2015, users were targeted by cyberattacks via a malicious adlink.
- In 2017, The Sun newspaper described Plenty of Fish as "the most dangerous dating app in Britain" linking it to rape, stalking and assault cases amongst others.
- In 2018 Plentyoffish Media Inc. was fined $48,000 for alleged violation of Canada's anti-spam law.
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