Fringe Dating Apps Deserve More Bantr
Ted Lasso is quite the eligible bachelor, but he’s not on Tinder, Bumble, or Hinge. He and other characters in the latest Apple TV + streaming sensation are on Bantr, a fictional dating app that focuses on playful conversation rather than traditional selfies and swipes.
And even if you can’t buy a piece of Bantr, you can still bet on Lasso-style love by exploring the growing list of fringe dating apps. The industry is unique in that consumers use multiple apps at the same time. As of January 2019, data from App Annie shows that US users have spent an average of 7.4 million hours per month on dating apps on Android phones alone. It can seem intimidating to compete with dating giants like Match Group MTCH. -2.63%
which collectively boast over $ 50 billion in fully diluted market value, but many companies are trying.
Even lesser-known apps aren’t that small. Coffee Meets Bagel, which hits users with algorithmically curated matches every day at noon, says it has made more than 130 million matches since its launch in 2012. Hily, who works to make it easier to start conversations, says that it now has over 22 million users. Snack, which focuses on video dating first, was the 10th most downloaded dating app in the United States last month, according to App Annie. Ashley Madison, one of the 20 most downloaded dating apps in the US last month, is for people in a relationship or marriage looking for… something else.
They become even more grainy. The League claims its matchmakers are trained in the Ivy League while Raya blurs the lines between dating and professional networks and is so exclusive she would be honored by celebrities. Bristlr is an app for bearded people looking for beard lovers, Lawyr is an app for legal professionals and Gutsy is an app for those with digestive issues.
Some just need a bigger platform to help them take off. Take the example of the millennial-focused relationship app, Hinge, in which Match took a controlling stake in 2018 before acquiring it in 2019. Data from App Annie showed that Hinge only registered around 100,000 downloads in the US in January 2018. As of March 2021, it was approaching 600,000. Match said Hinge increased revenue 150% in the second quarter and was on track to more than double revenue this year after tripling them last year.
Match bought Hinge in part to branch out from its Tinder hookup app, as people’s dating needs change over time. He operates smaller apps where he sees great potential, such as the black singles app BLK and the Latino dating app Chispa, both of which she has developed in-house. He also purchased a Cairo-based Islamic dating app in 2019.
With that in mind, investors would be wise to keep an eye out for smaller players in online dating, some of which are publicly traded. Spark Networks based in Berlin,
for example, had $ 233 million in revenue last year, slightly more than the roughly $ 200 million that Match hinted that Hinge is on track to deliver this year. Spark operates 13 brands, including Christian Mingle, JDate and Zoosk. With a portfolio focused on older users, the company claims to have a 30% market share in online dating among those 45 and over.
And then there’s eHarmony owner ParshipMeet, which Reuters announced earlier this month was preparing for a public offering in 2022. The company operates eight brands in total, with a focus on United States, United Kingdom and Continental Europe. In the second quarter, it achieved a turnover of 139 million euros, or $ 164.2 million, according to the half-year financial report of its majority shareholder.
The dating game is hard work, even for market leaders. Match doesn’t disclose the total number of Tinder users, but it’s estimated to be around 70 million. Of those, only 9.6 million were paying for the service on the app, according to Match’s second quarter results.
Small businesses may one day become gems in their own right, but most are not there yet. Spark, for example, posted adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margin of around 16% last year, well below Bumble’s 26% and Match’s 37%. But if it takes off, investors who buy now would get it on the cheap: Spark shares are earning less than five times the value of the company to pass Ebitda. Match and Bumble trade on average around 36 times.
Investing in love can be tricky, but finding it can really pay off.
Write to Laura Forman at [email protected]
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