AMA: Sam Yagan, Co-Founder, OkCupid & CEO, Match, Inc.

Hi, I’m Sam Yagan, Co-Founder, OkCupid & CEO, Match, Inc. Ask me anything.

I’ll be taking your questions for half an hour starting at 4:00PM CT on November 1st.

 

 

 

Update: The AMA is now closed, thank you everyone who participated. 

-The Built In Chicago Team

 

5 votes

Hey Sam, thanks for taking the time!

So with a product like OKCupid, or any soical platform where the product is actually the platform itself, what are the questions you should be asking when you're about to launch? I am about to launch a social network of my own and I want to make sure I'm asking the right questions and analyzing the parts of my ux which will be the true catalysts for growth. 

Thanks!

Comments

I'd start by asking (a) what problem your social platform solves and (b) how growth will be driven by specific product features.

I don't think UX is the make-or-break for a social platform.

Sam

4 votes

Hey Sam,

I'd like to ask a few questions regarding the moment of launching of a dating site:

  1. How many users had OkCupid in the very first day? How many after a week and a month?
  2. In your opinion, what is the mininum number of users a dating site should have at the moment of launch?
  3. How did you attract first users to OkCupid? I mean what exactly did you do before the launch?

Thanks for yor answers in advance!

Sebastian

Comments

1. Zero.
2. Zero.
3. Personality quizzes. This test has been taken over 4 million times: http://www.okcupid.com/online.dating.persona.test.

Sam

3 votes

Hey Sam! Looking forward to your AMA.

I wanted to ask.. when starting a community similar to Match or OkCupid, what do you suggest a company can do to get that initial content rolling? It'll start empty obviously, so when people first sign on, there's not much there.. then engagement will be low, then it won't catch on. What can we do about that?

Thanks!!

-Josh

Comments

When starting any two-sided network or marketplace, there are a couple simple rules of thumb:

1) Determine which side of the market/network is more scarce (on dating sites, it's usually the women)
2) Give early users something to do OTHER than transacting in the marketplace (content, etc.)

Sam

When starting any two-sided network or marketplace, there are a couple simple rules of thumb:

1) Determine which side of the market/network is more scarce (on dating sites, it's usually the women)
2) Give early users something to do OTHER than transacting in the marketplace (content, etc.)

Sam

What do you do after you know #1?

2 votes

 

Sam, what do you think the concept of a dating-specific ad network?

1. Dating sites garner a very specific type of audience with specific intent

2. Users are transient (churns every 3 months so you get fresh eye balls)

3. Audience can be highly segmented, allowing for laser targeting, unlike content sites that are currently mixed in at generic ad networks 

Advantages:

1. Cut out expensive agency middle-men

2. More control and transparency for dating sites and advertisers

3. More efficient ecosystem based on bidding and use of performance metrics instead of just blanket CPMs

4. Highly sought-after targeting capabilities by advertisers

Would love to hear your thoughts on this and/or how to efficiently monetize at free or freemium dating sites.

Thank you,

Tom Fang

Comments

Good idea, but the problems are:

1. Dating sites have low CTRs
2. Many advertisers dont want to be on dating sites
3. Most advertisers can't take advantage of the data dating sites have.

Make sense?
Sam

Yes, but I'd like to share a few opinions:

1. Agree, but isn't that because the advertising isn't able to be very relevant/targeted to specific demographics and lifestyle of the users? Plenty of Fish ads achieve average ~0.15% CTRs (although ad approvals are more lax)

2. Agree that big brand advertisers stay away, but again coming back to the ability for very specific targeting--I would think a lot of more niche businesses would be interested to selling to specific demographic segments with specific intent

3. I think this comes back to sophistication of technology and the organizations. I'd love to speak to this point in person, but in general I think it's a lack of efficiency in ads market and lack of sophistication on some media agencies.

Thank you Sam!

-Tom

2 votes

Hey Mr. Cupid,

Just wondering - Being a founder of a successful dating site must have some perks. How many girls have you gone out with on your own platform? What's your conversion rate? jk... 

Richard

2 votes

I have two questions that I'd love answers to:

1. Where did you find your first OkCupid users?

2. How do you sustain membership when the goal is to essentially help your users find someone so that they won't have to date, and in turn use your site, anymore?

Thanks for doing this Sam.

Comments

1. We got some initial users from our previous site, SparkNotes.com.
2. People leaving due to success isn't an issue because:
-- They talk about their success to their single friends.
-- Most relationships dont end in marriage, so the majority of people will come back eventually!

Sam

Thanks for the answers, Sam. I appreciate it.

1 vote

What do you feel was the most sucessful way of increasing user activity on OkCupid?

Was it a particular feature? UI Tweeks?

1 vote

Sam,

Most entrepreneurs, designers and developers create this picture in their head how their product should/will be used, but once you get it in users hands they usually surprise you. So, what were a few assumpitions you had during Okcupid and now with Match about users behavior that totally took you by suprise, positively and negatively?  In addition how did the team adapat to these changes and implement or remove things to enhance the overall user experience?

Thanks, 

Zach 

@zzpreneur

1 vote

How do you know when it's time to launch?  If you've built the architecture to address 1 or 2 of 3 of target markets, do you launch the company and address the other target market(s) as you move forward, or do you wait until everything is ready before launch?  If it's the former, will it confuse potential customers and complicate branding and marketing strategy?  Or is it better to have some presence earlier versus total presence later?  They say timing is everything - does it hold true for start-ups?

Thank you for doing this.  It's very much appreciated.

1 vote

It seems that any small business needs a "growth hack" of sorts to give them a boost over their competition and a bit of traction.  What was a few of your initial "growth hacks" to get started with OkCupid?  

1 vote

Hi Sam,

With your experience at Excelerate Labs, how do you approach putting a value, typically through equity, on having a mentor(s)?

0 votes

Hey Sam, 

I wanted to ask - out of everything you've learned about people getting matched through questions, do you have any insight into the most important pieces of information that people need to know about eachother before they will decide to message each other, or even meet in real life? 

Thanks, 

Ellen from PeopleHunt in NY

0 votes

Sam Yagan,

How did you initially fund the your start up costs?

 - Corey J.

Comments

Hi Corey - The founders put in some money and we raised some capital from friends.

Sam

0 votes

Mr. Yagan, I am working with a social start-up and want to get your input on the most efficient way people meet. Is there any evidence to suggest whether search-based sites, such as Match.com, are any more or less effective if long-lasting relationships compared to match-based sites, where the company provides the user with selected people?

Comments

I'm not sure i understand the difference. What match-based sites are there other than eHarmony?

Sam

0 votes

Sam,

I worked at 1871 but we never met. I would like to what type of market/companies/startups would you invest money so I can hit the lottery as well. Thank you.

0 votes

How much luck have you had getting core users to evangelize your platform? What kind of incentives have worked?

0 votes

Hi Sam,

I was just curious if you read my article, http://www.builtinchicago.org/blog/entrepreneur-s-thought-when-goliath-e... here in Built In Chicago and wondering what your experience is so far in entering the roommate matching space.  Are there any pain points or advice you'd be willing to share? Cheers!

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