Yesterday, Sam Yagan did a Reddit AMA, fielding questions from the community about the three main dating businesses he has influence over – Match.com, OkCupid and Tinder.
Yagan follows in the footsteps of other dating CEOs in doing an AMA, such as HowAboutWe’s Aaron Schildkrout and Brian Schechter, along with Dattch’s Robyn Exton.
While Yagan did respond to a number of questions from Redditors, he also left quite a few (reasonable) questions unanswered, which engendered some ill-feeling amongst the community, and some amusing questions and comments.
Here is a breakdown of his most interesting answers, and those questions he neglected to answer:
On a requested feature for OkCupid
Q: Could you please implement a function on OkCupid that allows for people to search and see if they’re in their matches’ preferred age range? This is a common addition that gets asked for a lot on /r/okcupid.
I’m not sure we’ll do it exactly that way, but we have often discussed ways of enforcing people’s age preferences. The problem is that not everyone cares about their age ranges equally, meaning that many people don’t at all mind chatting with people outside their ranges — their ranges are a preference, but not a firm filter.
His use of dating sites
Q: Being the CEO of a group that discernably specialises in finding love, have you personally used any of your services and subsequently found success?
Here’s some OkCupid trivia: None of the four founders has ever been on an online date of any kind.
Difference between free vs subscription sites
Q: Does the free-ness of OKC attract a different group of people as compared to Match’s subscription fee? Do you think this would even go as far to affect the relationship that could be formed from each site? Which site see’s the most traffic? How does that relate to matches? Last one, how it feel know you’re sites have paired literally tens of thousands of people together?
Each dating product attracts a different user, and “freeness” is just one component (Tinder & OkC attract different users; Match and OurTime attract different users, etc.). So, yes, Match users and OkC users are different. I hate talking about “better quality” when referring to human beings, but it is true that people who pay for Match likely have higher intent than people on OkCupid or Tinder.
Data and algorithms
Q: How has the role of data and algorithms changed in the life of OKCupid? I feel like initially, it was more data-driven and gave users more access to match percentages. Lately, the interface has felt more Tinder-like, focusing on spending less time per match and showcasing photos and quick blurbs of text if any. Do you think this trend of focusing on quick, picture-based interactions will continue? Thank you!
I wouldn’t say it’s about picture-based or not picture-based. Pictures are always important in any dating environment. More important, though, is the form factor. The average person checks her smartphone over 100 times a day and the average time a person spends in an app is about 90 second. Consumers now expect to get value from an app in under a minute, while we at OkCupid are as data-geeky as ever, the interface for users will continue to evolve to feel as current and relevant as possible.
Q: You’ve owned and sold many successful companies. What are some of your best productivity tips?
Bonus question: What’s your favorite color?
I’ll take the extra credit first: Orange. 🙂
As for productivity:
1 – I view every minute as previous and try not to waste time doing anything that isn’t very productive or very enjoyable.
2 – Email can be a huge waste of time or incredibly efficient. For me, it’s the latter; I write about 25,000 emails a year and it’s easily my primary mode of communication.
3 – I set priorities and try to stick to them. If I am working on something really important or really urgent, I ask myself why I am doing it.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
Gosh, so many. I think the biggest challenge was turning OkCupid around. In 2009, OkC really wasn’t doing well. Growth had slowed. We were running out of money. We’d been doing it for six years and the founders were all getting impatient. But we all dug in and saved the company, turning it in to what it is today.
Online dating and society
Q: Is online dating “good” for society? Why or why not, and what are the potential unintended consequences of this behavior?
Btw, I met girlfriend of over a year on OkCupid, so thanks! 🙂
I love this question. I’ve long believed that dating apps truly make society better, in several ways:
1) Undoubtedly, greater choice leads to the selection of higher quality spouses.
2) Technology makes it easier to meet people who are less similar (farther away, different socioeconomic levels, different ethnicity, etc.).
3) The ease of getting back in the dating market makes empowers people in bad relationships to leave them, knowing that loneliness isn’t the only alternative to their current situation.
New Year users
Q: Hi Sam! I was wondering what historical data tells us about all these new users (for both genders) that pop up at the beginning of the year, presumably because they made finding love part of their 2015 resolution? Sometimes I wonder how many of them will actually end up sticking around the OKCupid community, or will most of these ‘rush’ profiles end up being abandoned/deactivated in a few days, much like gym goers in January disappears after the first week, and not really worth messaging?
By the way, thank you for founding OKCupid! You’ve helped me find happy, meaningful relationships that helped me grow over the years 🙂
Great question. While certainly a few of the people who signup for dating apps in the new year’s rush don’t stick around, the vast majority do. Not sure how that compares with gym memberships, but my guess is that dating apps do better since they don’t require you to actually get out of your house, show up at a gym, and then exercise. You can just fire up the app wherever you are and then have fun on dates. Dates are better than treadmills! 🙂
Same sex daters
Q: Why do high matches on okcupid ignore each other? Am I not grabbing peoples attention? Why is it harder for same sex daters to find dates on okcupid?
On your second question, I believe that OkCupid is the dating app of choice for most same-sex daters. We have always welcomed same-sex daters and individuals from other marginalized communities.
Why do high matches ignore each other? Well, most people ignore other people — online and offline — but Christian has done the research and we know for a fact that high match percentages definitely increase the probability that two people will communicate.
If you send me a link to your profile, I can try to see if I have any suggestions to make it more grabby. 🙂
Q: How do you feel about people using your sites for side action? It’s unfortunate, but I know it does happen.
Whenever I think about online dating, i always start with the offline dating analog. I don’t condone “side action,” whether found online or offline, but it’s not the bar or the dating app at fault, of course, it’s the “side actor.”
His day to day
Q: I was really wondering how a day in the life of Sam Yagan looks like.
Bonus question – What are some of your hobbies, and how do you get by a weekend?
I spend a lot of time traveling (we have offices in Dallas, NYC, LA, Paris, Rio, SF, etc.), but when i wake up at home, I typically get up early (today was 5:15) go for a run (today was 5k) and get my kids ready for school and off to the bus stop. I try to be at work by 8 and spend most of my day talking to the people who run the various businesses (Tinder, Match, OkCupid, Meetic, etc) or our big functions (Technology, product, finance, marketing, analytics, etc.). Then home for dinner with the family, before catching up on email after the kids turn in.
Hobbies? I used to have them. Now I just have little kids. 🙂
Q: How active is OKC’s user base outside of the US and EU?
Thanks for doing this AMA!
OkC does really well in English-speaking countries and really poorly outside. It’s on our list. 🙂
Making online dating cool
Q: What do you think is the biggest hurdle in making internet dating “cool”?
It gets more and more mainstream every day. I dont even really care about “cool” i just want it to be “normal.” I want everyone who wants love/friendship/dates/relationships to have them. I want to contribute to that mission every single day. And I dont want anyone to be deprived of affection or companionship because the most effective tool ever created — online dating — is somehow not “cool” or “normal” enough. It just makes me sad.
As mentioned above, Yagan did also leave quite a few questions unanswered, many of which were the top rated questions by users – which rankled with the community. Here are some of the questions, and a selection of the Redditors’ amusing responses.
These ranged from the fair:
Q: Any plans for a Tinder not linking to Facebook?
Q: How do you plan on removing the amount of fake accounts on some of your dating apps/websites? The amount of fake accounts on Tinder asking people (me) if I want to go private for 70 or 100 “roses” is unbelievable.
This right here. Match account expired 3 weeks ago, and all of a sudden, I’m getting 2-3 emails a day saying that someone has either emailed me or favorited me. What coincidental timing…
Q: I signed up for a match.com trial a year ago, and after unsubscribing at least 15 times from your mailing list I’m still getting spammed daily by match.com.
What do I have to do to make it stop?
Q: Why does OkC charge different prices for A-List based on who you say you are? For example signing up as a mid-30s male would see $19.95 per month but a 19 year old female would see $7.95 per month (or is it $5.95?) How do you justify this price discrimination? Especially since it’s largely hidden.
(I’m not criticizing, I’m truly interested in the answer)
Q: Do your sites still make fake profiles to lure users into a false sense of popularity?
To the annoyed:
Q: So, just like on OkCupid, you respond a couple times and disappear?
Edit: Thanks for the gold!
Q: Top 4 questions are unanswered at this point, and they all revolved around significant points. OP bottled this AMA.
That’s pretty much how those dating thing work, you only respond to those you want, and the moment it doesn’t go your way, you stop responding altogether.
To the funny:
Why do you look so different than the pictures on your profile?
If you enroll in the full price membership for just $49.99 he will answer all of your questions.
Read Yagan’s full AMA here.