Facebook Debuts its Dating Service, Match Group has a Lot to Lose
Facebook announced that it had finally launched its dating feature in the United States on Thursday. Meanwhile, Match Group has been getting a lot of love from investors, and it had seen its stock more than double in value this year, making it one of the more successful technology stocks of 2019.
Massive User Base
In using the Facebook Dating feature, users must be at least 18 years old, have the most recent version, and opt-in. They are then asked to complete a dating profile separate from their main Facebook page. The app won’t be limited to those in the user’s friend circle, it will suggest potential dating partners based on interests and preferences from the pool of others who have opted into Dating.
Users can also link both their Facebook and Instagram accounts into their Dating profile. The Secret Crush feature will allow users to explore matches with up to nine people already in their circle of friends whom they might have a romantic interest in. By connecting their account to Facebook Dating, users will also be able to add Instagram followers to the pool and they will be able to pull photos and eventually Instagram stories into their dating profile.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in the Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference, in early 2018, that the company was planning to enter the online dating space, saying the move seemed a natural fit.
Down the Incumbent
In online dating, Match Group is the industry leader and most likely to feel the impact of Facebook’s move, which some believe will drain Match’s paying subscribers. With revenue and subscribers both jumping 18% year over year, the company generated impressive second-quarter results. At the same time, Tinder grew direct revenue by 46% versus the prior-year quarter, while its subscribers increased by 39%.
Facebook’s latest move did not persuade everyone that it will cut into Match’s subscriber base. Singles will use the Dating app as another means to seek out partners, rather than removing their existing online dating services as the theory goes,
SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Analyst’s Youssef Squali upgraded Match to buy from hold on Thursday and raised his price target to $106. Squali wrote in a note to customers that positive intra-quarter app revenue and traffic trends for Match’s multitude brands across several countries show sustained positive energy quarter-to-date, causing them to raise their estimates and upgrade the stock, and that they also expect Tinder to once again print one of its best quarterly nets adds with further headroom to grow.
Given Facebook’s track record, after much well-publicized privacy failure and continued brushes with government regulators in different countries, it remains to be a mystery if users will relegate something as personal as their love lives. Will this Dating feature change the game?
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