Dobbie looks to expand dating site network beyond UK shores

There’s an auld saying down our way: where there’s muck, there’s money. It’s a motto that perhaps Bill Dobbie and Max Polyakov ought to have hanging over their office doors, Dobbie in his office in Edinburgh and his recently departed partner in the US, where he’s gone to dabble in gaming – the gambling type, not prostitution.

Last week we reported on the amicable split between the two, the market reaction from Courtland Brooks and the sizeable chunk of profit each of the gents made. On paper, when you see quotes like ‘profit up 67% to £7M pre-tax’ and compare it to the global figure that online dating is reputedly worth, $2.1bn last official figure I saw, you tend to think of said chunk of profit as not such a big deal.

But then you read another snippet in Scotland’s Sunday Mail which states that Cupid Plc was not only the fastest growing technology company in 2011 but the nineteenth fastest growing company in any field, as reported by Deloitte; it’s then you start to sit up and take notice of exactly how much the dating site industry is worth – and particularly their little corner of it – and you get an idea of what these two guys have done in a comparatively short space of time. And they’re not stopping there.

Dobbie has achieved what he set out to do and that is become one of the most formidable players on the UK online dating scene. Perhaps that is the reason Ukrainian partner decided to turn his attention to pastures new in The States, but it is clear that Dobbie still believes there is mileage in pushing dating sites further. Next step, in his own words, is to become ‘a true international player.’

And, according to the same report in the Scottish newspaper this Sunday, he is well on the way to doing that with the links they ‘uncovered’ to other sites unnamed on his staple affiliate dating site page.

The ‘revelation’ is that Dobbie is the owner of Alcuda, who in turn own UpForItNetworks,com. This sees a new side line for Dobbie only in the fact that the dating sites in that network cater for those who are in a relationship, under titles such as BeDiscreet.com, whereas his main fortune has come from solely catering for the singles network.

Let’s face it, for every person on the planet there is a dating site for their sexual preference, so why the newspaper have taken umbrage with the dating site owner over this branch of his main business when he and Max have put so much back into the UK economy over the last five to seven years, who knows. The real story is how two guys with knowledge of a market and how to brand that knowledge have made a kick-ass living out of doing it and turned the dream into a reality.

Whether we like it or not, dating sites are here to stay and you’d rather have someone with an in depth knowledge of the industry taking care of personal details you may not want leaking out than a brand new start up. Something tells me, even though Max has gone to pastures new, Dobbie has not made his last million out of the dating game, yet.

Dating site owner leaving to go on the game in US

One of the most well-known names behind the online dating scene, Max Polyakov, has called time on the industry and decided to seek ventures new in the US after a successful two years with business partner Bill Dobbie as co-owner of CupidPlc.

Those who have been on the dating scene for a while may know the firm as Easydate, the name of the company before Bill and Max took the public limited company from commanding £0.60 per share before they joined forces to a peak of £2.60 in June of last year. News of Max’s departure from his role as business development director saw the shares dip below the £2.00 mark from it’s prior price of £2.04 to £1.95, a drop of 4.4%. However, as Dobbie and Polyakov each disposed of six million shares slightly below that value at £1.80 each as a sign of the parting of the waves; both have a healthy return of £10.8M each following Max’s decision to turn his renowned talent to launching a social gaming venture in America. The pair retain 13.8 million and 12.6 million shares respectively, with Polyakov unable to release any more share capital for sale for almost fifteen months and will need to seek CupidPlc’s permission further to sell any more stock after that next milestone of June 30th, 2013.

The business behind the many dating sites which are part of their portfolio is still in an exceptionally healthy position. So much so that the beneficiaries of the new shares are institutional investors, chosen partners that a spokesman for the dating site parent company said had been a very deliberate consideration.

It may well be that, having seen revenue double in 2011 to £53.6 million, within that figure an increase of two thirds in pre-tax profit up to £7M, the business needs some shrewd investment quality to maximise the potential of that much capital. Polyakov will still have a silent interest in the venture as the remaining shares he holds represents a 15.5% holding, with Dobbie’s shares give him a remnant 17%. But the industry is mourning the loss of a true character inn Max who’s knowledge of online dating has provided massive impetus behind CupidPlc’s recent successes.

It remains to be seen how the shake up affects the non-financial stakeholders in the business, those who do the day to day dating marketing for the firms under the CupidPlc umbrella (believe me, I’m very interested in how that particular aspect pans out!) or if it will at all.

Mark Brooks of Courtland Brooks, the company behind Online Personals Watch, reiterated how much Max will be missed, given that, in the early days Easydate as was was Courtland Brooks client. The thought of CupidPlc without Max there would be ‘tough to imagine’ as he was the ‘driving force’ of the dating site owner’s growth since the business’ concept.

We will bring you news of how the new ownership will affect the world of dating as and when the investors have their feet underneath the table.