In the last few weeks, e Harmony has launched a personal matching feature called eh that Langston says will combine the company’s huge database with a real-live matchmaker--for 00 a pop.And in May 2012, IAC launched Stir, which holds about 1,600 singles events per year nationwide.
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Of course there are sites aimed at specific religious or ethnic groups, but there are also those who aim to match couples with very specific interests.
The Passion Network, for example, is a small empire of 250 dating hubs like bronypassions.com, for fans of the My Little Pony TV series; for mustache mavens; and even zombiepassions.com, for those obsessed with the walking dead.
Target marketing, changing demographics, and decreasing stigma about online dating are continually bringing new users to fore.
That growth is already beginning to attract investors.
Even as the user base soars, it’s not clear that sites’ algorithms for pairing couples are improving their chances of staying together long term.
A 2012 paper in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest concluded that sites “build their algorithms around principles--typically similarity but also complementarity—that are much less important to relationship well-being than has long been assumed.” The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study reported that marriages that started online were only slightly less likely to end in divorce than others.
The field is already crowded, with almost 3,900 companies running dating sites, according to a report last fall from business research firm IBISWorld.
The report projects the industry to add about a hundred companies per year over the next four years.
Last December, more than 1 in 10 American adults visited dating sites, spending more than an hour a day there on average, according to Market research company Nielsen.