Zoosk Founders Step Down As They Shelve IPO Plan


The co-founders of Zoosk have stepped down from leadership positions, as the company cancels its plan to go public.

Shayan Zadeh will be succeeded as CEO by Kelly Steckelberg, the former CFO and COO of the dating company.

Zadeh’s co-founder and President of Zoosk, Alex Mehr, will also vacate his leadership position, but both founders will remain as board members.

And this leadership shakeup comes with a decision to cancel their plan to IPO.

The site filed in April, looking to raise $100m in its initial public offering, and trading under the symbol ZSK.

Steckelberg told TechCrunch that since filing, the market conditions around comparable companies has not been good, with subscription businesses suffering.

The company said their decision to IPO depends directly on how subscription businesses are performing in the market at that time.

Zoosk’s decision comes days after Edinburgh-based Cupid announced their decision to sell of their remaining dating assets – something that may have served as a warning to not be hasty with their plans.

In their filing statement, Zoosk revealed they have 26m members, with 650,000 subscribers in over 80 countries.

This increased from 18m members and 483,000 subscribers the year before.

In 2013, their revenue rose 63% to $178.2m, up from $109.1m the year before.

Their paying subscribers contributed $153.8m of this revenue, but 13% came from their virtual currency business.

This lets users pay to do things like promote their profiles, and this revenue stream has grown considerably — rising from $5.4m in 2012, to $24.3m last year.

However, the company is still operating at a loss – this year reducing losses by 87% to $2.6m, down from $20.7m the year before.

With regards to the leadership change, Zadeh, who set up the company in 2007 with Alex Mehr after meeting at Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology, said: “While this was an extremely difficult decision, Alex and I agreed that this was the right inflection point for Zoosk to carry out the long-planned transition from a founder-led company to a professionally-led company.”

Steckelberg has risen through the ranks at Zoosk over the past four years, promoted to COO after one year, while continuing as CFO.

Since then she has been more involved with Zoosk’s marketing agenda.

What their new ad campaign, First Comes Like, below:

Simon Edmunds

Simon is the former editor of Global Dating Insights. Born in Newcastle, he has an English degree from Queen Mary, London and after working for the NHS, trained as a journalist with the Press Association. Passionate about music, journalism and Newcastle United.

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