Edinburgh-based site adapts to increased tech usage

One online dating service based in Edinburgh has been fast to adapt to the increased amount of technology, such as social networking sites and smartphones, being used by its members.

The dating site, Cupid, founded by Bill Dobbie, a Scottish entrepreneur, has been growing by leaps and bounds since June of 2010, when it was first listed on the junior Alternative Investment Market.  George Elliott, the chairman of the company, told investors that the firm was currently looking into several new tech-based opportunities that could lead to an increased market share in the ironically cutthroat dating site sector.

The company, which has several niche dating sites under its umbrella, has been performing well, with its shares hovering at around 200p. This may be a significant drop from its June 2011 high of 260p, but it’s still more than three times higher than their initial 60p listing price.

If you’re a dating site aficionado, there’s a good chance you may have already looked into one of Cupid’s many offerings. They’re a worldwide company, with dating sites in several different countries such as Brazil and Germany, and also offer niche dating experiences for many types of love-seekers, such as single parents or members of the LGBT community.

The company has plans – undisclosed as of now – to spend some of the massive amounts of dosh it’s been raking in to improve website infrastructure and diversify their products. Industry analysts say that this could almost surely mean that smartphone apps for its more popular dating sites could be currently under development, or that more wide social networking integration could be on the horizon as well.

New site for Oxford students gets a relaunch

It looks like there’s some life in the old girl, yet: one student dating site, one of the most active of its kind in its heyday, is getting a relaunch soon.

The Oxford Romance dating site – or OxRo, as Oxford students affectionately referred to it – had originally been launched in 2008 before becoming a victim of its own success; the number of successful couples that found love or companionship effectively crippled the free website’s user base.  But now, four Oxford students have banded together to relaunch it, hoping to capture some of that early success.

Students using dating sites is nothing new; OxRo isn’t the first website dedicated to the endeavour of finding a partner.  Its predecessor, Cambridge-based CamRo, was even more successful, as both CamRo and OxRo delivered a much-needed service to the community.

Richard Neill, the site’s creator and current Trinity College, Cambridge DPhil student, said that it was established to provide an outlet to the amount of intrigue and romance that was so prevalent on campus.  Neill added that the site allowed users to forge intellectual or emotional bonds with someone else before actually dating them, leading to much more legitimate and lasting relationships than those that began in a local club.

The site has always been a labour of love, with Neill stating that he’s lost around £500 in hosting fees, mostly through events and server costs.  However, knowing that there have been more than 400 successful relationships forged on the website – not to mention the 13 weddings and one soon-to-be-born child – is ‘quite heartwarming,’ making it totally worth it to the site creator.

Ten million dating site members – is it too many?

I’m almost convinced that there will be a time when online dating is compulsory, as will be further education. You’ll finish year eleven and, instead of trying to sneak into the nearest pub to get an under aged drink in the hope of meeting someone with whom you can pop your cherry, you’ll be using the dating site membership that you were given at the same time as you collected your exam results and college enrolment number.

I draw that conclusion based on the fact that White Label Dating, the company that hosts dating sites for individuals who would like to develop a brand in their own dating niche, whether that be mainstream or an aspect a little more tailored to an individual’s circumstances and/or sexual proclivity, have recently announced their ten millionth dating site member.

Keeping up with rising dating site numbers

Going back a few years, Matt Pitt, Whitelabeldating.com’s Director of Operations, may have been forgiven for thinking that the huge volume of singles recorded across their brands would be ten or fifteen years away. But, as he acknowledges in his summary in the announcement that they’d reached this milestone, social media has become such a big part of our lives in such a short space of time, people are a lot more accustomed and trusting of ‘social interaction’ than could ever have been predicted, even as short a time ago as fix or six years hence.

Also in his summary, he was quick to acknowledge the variety of personals sites that have sprung up in more recent times.

It is not only your ‘lonely housewives’ types of sites that have grown in stature, but it seems that for every type of passion away from dating, their will be someone who finds a way of getting people of similar interests together to see if a deeper meaning can be brought to the relationship.

Some surprising names amongst the clientele

You only have to look at the corporations that use WLD as their base platform for hosting their own online dating sites to realise exactly where he’s coming from.

Jazz FM, the radio station for lovers of that swinging beat and Jongleurs, the comedy club, have both chosen to host their dating sites with WLD. But there are, no offence to either of those, much bigger household names who have chosen this option.

The Independent, Bauer Media and Cosmopolitan media publications all entrust their reputation in the dating niche to WLD to look after their membership.

Is so much choice a good thing?

The issue is, with so many singles using online dating sites to deliberate over potential partners, the question has been asked if people are genuinely holding back on commitment because the ‘next best thing’ may be just a click away.

If you were single with so many other singles looking for – well, a bit of everything by all accounts – how readily would you want to sacrifice the freedom of choice on offer on these platforms? Okay, to gain access to the best features, there is usually a monthly fee, but that fee is often less than one night ‘up town on the pull‘ and you get up to 31 days (whilst sober, mainly) to choose without worrying that someone’s slipped a pair of beer goggles on you.

Matt also expressed that, having reached the ten million milestone, he cannot wait until the twentieth million member joins up. Something tells me, he’s not going to have to wait too long before WLD realises that goal.

Giving up monogamy this hogmanay

According to all sources, if you’re intent on cheating on your beloved, betrothed or bedraggled other half, your objectives will be outlined on 4th January more than any other day in the year. That’s the word coming from the media, backed up by new sign up figures at dating sites dedicated to adultery.

Illicitencounters.com is just one of the niche dating sites specialising in secret affairs that have reaped the benefits of one desperate half of a couple being released from the cage that has been their marital home over the festive season.

As the business sector slowly wakes up, in many cases to find the economic outlook equally as gloomy – if not worse – than it was before Christmas, phones rest in their cradles and order books lie open with a list of numbers that are nothing more than the cappuccinos and black coffee combinations to the drinks machines. All without sugar, of course, as individuals look to lose pounds, as well as fidelity, as they log back on to their computers straight to the secret dating site, rather than to a supplier’s stock screen.

It is this freedom, as married individuals become fed up of their home life and the claustrophobia that has been the festive season, coupled with the realisation that the run of the mill job isn’t going to do anything to lift the cloak of boredom from their lives, that has been blamed for increases of up to 300% for new dating site membership sites design to provide the stealth needed to have an elicit affair.

The figures really are astounding.

One of the leading dating sites aimed at capturing this unsatisfied married market had received over 600 new sign-ups by lunch-time on the fourth and missed out on a thousand for the day by a mere six individuals.

This is more than double the average daily number.

If you take the basis that, in one recent survey almost 20% of married women had admitted to cheating on their husband at least once and 25% of men on their wives, you can surmise that almost 600 of those new dating site sign-ups were the male of the species. Whilst the women are not charged for using the online dating facility in question, it will cost the married man (how he covers this up in his bank statement or explains the outgoing, we’re not sure) €100/£80 month to actually contact the results of his matchmaking search. That’s a cool £50k, almost, for the site, yesterday. In one day. More than I earn in a year. One day. Wow!

With the dating site boasting 640,000+ ‘genuine UK users’, assuming 60/40 male/female split, you’re talking over £3.5M income per annum from male members’ fees alone.

There’s an old saying in these parts: where there’s muck, there’s money.

Dagnammit, the old ‘uns got that right.