Time to sell?

Looks like a lot of news coming out today.   Sparkpeople sold for $75 million the company has 2 million uniques a month on 67 million pageviews and the site isn’t even break even.   I talked to chris while back and was sending them a hundred+ signups a day for a while.       I also talked to eric when I was first starting out and he sold his company for $65 ? Million today.

I’ve come a long way in the last 3 years,  today I’ve single handily built the largest dating site in the world with no employees.   The site generates more relationships than match.com  yet only makes a tiny tiny fraction of Match.com’s 300 Million a year.   So today I sit at a turning point,   the site has over 1.1 billion pageviews and 45 million visitors a month ,  the maintaince and all that annoying stuff is growing fast and there is no way to effectively monetize the site without employees.    

I can either sell and walk away with a few hundred million  or start an office and grow the site.    So in the coming weeks/months i’m going to turn my hobby  into a business.    Like anyone else  founding a startup,  i’m going to go get myself a business lisence so I can get office space.   Then go office space hunting, set up the office,  put up job descriptions etc etc.

The main goal is to start replacing adsense/dating ads and hire sales people.    I spent the last few weeks working long days optimizing my ad revenue and as a result adding over a million a year net  per week of work.    Yet compared to match.com all these efforts are really just rounding errors.   At the end of the day its not possible for me optimize revenues  myself  or to outsource sales as no one vender could sell more than 3% of my inventory.  I am at a size now were there are no off the shelf solutions and everything has to be built from the ground up.

This is going to be an insane next few months,  Right out of the gate my hobby turned business Plentyoffish is a top 30 site in the US based on Competes Attention metric,    top  10 in canada and  top 30 in the UK.

74 Responses to “Time to sell?”

  1. Dave Dugdale Says:

    Don’t sell.

    I have being following your progress the past two years and it would be a shame for that to come to an end.

    Get some office space, hire an manager with some staff to sell the ads and then work on the stuff that you enjoy.

    But just don’t sell.

  2. Tech Povera Says:

    Ok, the word is now on the street. Nice way to start the bids.

    A true tech povera story. Sell now, take some time off, start your next project and dominate the word.

  3. Andre Says:

    how did you come to the decision to build it into a business and not sell?

  4. Existenzgründung Plentyoffish - Willst Du die größte Dating-Webseite der Welt kaufen? auf Existenz24.biz Says:

    [...] allein die größte Online-Dating Seite der Welt plentyoffish aufgebaut hat, überlegt in seinem Blog ob er sie nun verkaufen soll. Plentyoffish hat mehr als 1,1 Milliarden von 45 Millionen Besuchern [...]

  5. doolally Says:

    Should think your site would go for a premium (if you sold) just for the tech, how much could match save if they needed the same amount of servers as you.

  6. Dave Dugdale Says:

    Doolally has a good point, the price should be higher because of the optimized setup you have.

    But don’t sell.

  7. name(required) Says:

    Your starting to get ebay sized!!

    Here’s a presentation from ebay on their humongous setup and how they scale They had 3.3 million lines of C++ code on one iteration of their software!
    http://www.addsimplicity.com/downloads/eBaySDForum2006-11-29.pdf

  8. Tomás Says:

    Your business is so inspirational, you, alone made a such big website…

    Good look into that phase of your life!

  9. thejuicycow Says:

    Thanks for sharing this, good luck with your “new” business ;)

  10. Top Says:

    We will be watching to see where you go next. I’m curious what innovations and changes you will make to the website now. It blows my mind to know how many people are using your dating site.

  11. kurt Says:

    Sell…. but stay on to advise.

    At some point the trouble of owning the site will catch up to you 80 hour work weeks, payroll, employees and the problems they create, insurance, more servers, liability of data.

    If its your hobby and you can sell it for ~100 million, why not cash out and start a new hobby?

    Perhaps you don’t want to take a check and walk away, I’m sure you can stay on in some sort of advisory role. It maybe difficult to give away your baby but it looks like its all grown up.

    Cash out, start something new.

  12. Rush Says:

    If you need a .NET programmer I would leave my job to work with you. :-)

  13. Is PlentyOfFish On The Auction Block? at TH·E CON·CEP’TU·AL·IST Says:

    [...] the way it looks to me from here, Markus Frind, founder, just put the word out he will consider bids for PlentyOfFish. Looks like a lot of news coming out today. Sparkpeople sold [...]

  14. fred flintstone Says:

    sell it if you’re so upset others are selling. Or keep earning your claimed millions per year. Either are better options than creating more work for yourself.

  15. fred flintstone Says:

    my guess is that you can’t sell it. Your users are losers who want dates without paying for a decent service. You can’t sell because nobody wants these loser users, no matter how many you have.

  16. Jonathan Frate Says:

    ^ do you think the users on myspace are ‘winners’?

    Markus – first step in hanging your shingle – get a new logo, a new website, and clean out the cobwebs. you may find this hard to beleive, but you probably lose a certain number of users who surf to your site and think that it looks like a scam/fake/not professional.

    Just cuz you like that dirty blanket, doesn’t mean you should take it to school with you…

  17. Sandy Kory Says:

    If you have a serious interest in selling, you need to make yourself obsolete. As long as you are mission-critical to the company, every buyer will be reluctant to write you a big check knowing that they will have to depend on you post-deal, with your bank account flush with cash and your attention on spending it.

    Building an infrastructure around you is the right move.

    Ironically enough, while your one-man-do-it-all strategy minimizes costs and maximizes profits, it also minimizes the multiple any buyer will pay for your company since the company is just you.

  18. Chris Gilbert Says:

    As I told you the other night Markus, I am willing to help out in Design/Marketing and am currently working on a Marketing Plan as a project for Business Marketing which I am graduating from this year. I think you’ve done an amazing job and I’ve even tried to do the same without success. I am surprised you only spend 2 hours on it everyday. You have a good thing going so keep it and please don’t sell out…

  19. saidamin Says:

    i really dig how you share so freely – i can relate and appreciate it.

    2 years ago World Singles was generating as much, if not more, than P of F with only one programmer – our sites are subscription based which means that unlike free sites, u have to actually answer all customer inquiries, screen all profiles, pics, etc. around that time, i decided to move WS from my basement to an office – emotionally, not an easy transition it’s been a huge lift for the business and healthy for me to get out of the house. to eat, sleep and sh** out of the same apartment or house 7 days a week takes its toll after a couple of years – simply put, it’s not healthy.

    that said, my advice is to be honest with yourself about your intentions with this decision. emotions are behind any intention – as long as you are in tune with what those are, you will make a wise decision (i sound like freakin’ Yoda =).

    do you want to manage and/or lead a staff? to do so is work (not a hobby)….personally, i prefer dreaming and working on the big picture but i now have to do a little of both. if you don’t like managing, hire someone that you trust, click and communicate with who has amazing management skills. we hired Deep from UKs number one site LoopyLove and lemme tell you, he’s been a jem (hard worker, communicative, dedicated, team player, honest, etc.) — i can now spend more time on the big picture which bodes well for my company NicheClick Media.

    anyway, i’m a fan (despite your frequent chest beating which at this point is unnecessary and at times a nuisance to read). big ups to you for being bold and moving forward in faith — going from hobby to full time gig is no joke. in my opinion, the worst thing that can happen to Match and other generalist subscription based dating sites is for a free site of the size of P of F to offer as robust a service as theirs for FREE….you accomplish that and then, ladies and gentlemen, you have on your hands a site that will begin to turn upside down the dating industry. why pay when you can get the same quality service for free?

    best of luck Brother.

    life is good!

    -saïd

  20. Appliances Says:

    “start replacing adsense/dating ads” with what?

    I’m not clear on how hiring people will generate more money – can you elaborate a bit?

    I thought Match.com made more money because they were a paid site (i.e. not free) – you’re not going paid are you?

  21. Joshua Says:

    Haha, if you can get a few hundred million, why not sell?

    Maybe after a certain point in millionairism, it becomes less about the money and more about the principal or pride you have in your work?

    Yikes! May I never have such pride :)

  22. JT Says:

    Bold move, Markus. I don’t really envy what you’re about to go through. But you’ve got a nice amount of cash already as a backup, so why not? You’re right, this could be worth a phenominal amount of money.

    A sales force is a good way to go. If you haven’t considered it already, a CEO would be nice, someone with some experience building companies. I’m not sure I’d put myself in that role if we expanded as such. I like the freedom of this life too much. :-)

    I suppose you do, too. But you’ve likely done all the things you wanted to, travelled, taken time off, and so on, and are ready to be “bolted down” to a startup company environment.

    We’ll be watching and cheering you on. Best of luck with it.

  23. TechDumpster (living in First Life) Says:

    I think you’re making a wise decision but you should also understand that there’s some irrationality in the market at the time and this could be an interesting opportunity for you to take advantage of.

    My advice to you:

    1. Steal away a few top sales guys from AQuant, DoubleClick, and other recently acquired firms. Give these 5 sales guys, the opportunity to earn up to 2% each of your equity over a period of 4 years if they continue to hit milestones. Set milestones for them in terms of ad sales.

    2. Steal one awesome engineer from Facebook or Google and give them the opportunity to own 2% of your firm.

    You’ve now let go of 12%. You have enough cash flow to pay them and the sales guys should earn their keep so no problem there.

    3. Engage an investment bank (and don’t freaking post about it on your blog) to shop you around quietly. Openly refute that you’re for sale. The more you say that, the more the big boys will want you. Have the investment bank refer you to the same group of companies every Web 2.0 retard wants to sell to but only the lucky few like you have the traffic to actually sell to.

    4. As soon as you get one bid, go to other parties and ask them if they really want to leave a prime asset like yours on the table. Let them start a mini-price war.

    5. When you feel comfortable with the exit price, take it, take some time off after you’re required stint at the acquiror and plan your next move or just relax. You’ve earned it. Your 6 employees will love you too.

    Good luck my friend.

  24. TechDumpster (living in First Life) Says:

    Oh and don’t worry about the vesting schedule too much – they’ll expect an accelerated vest upon acquisition/liquidity anyway and that’s standard.

  25. jazzy Says:

    No offense meant, if you’re thinking of making it real business, ask yourself if you have the necessary business skills. From my point of view, since you built the site yourself and you grow it yourself, you’re kinda self employed type and not really a business person type. You may prefer to decide and work by yourself. More of technical person than a business person.

    Whatever your decision is, I salute you!

  26. PlentyOfFish going legit, or to the beach | Michael Gracie Says:

    [...] Frind wants to sell, or get big. Either way, he’ll do [...]

  27. Louis Says:

    Markus,

    Please, please, please consider the value of your towering intellectual achievement here — not only for yourself, but all those who have followed and admired you and your technical and business accomplishments with plentyoffish.com these past several years.

    Whichever way you go, you will be fine. Heck, you are already rich, and probably would have a hard time spending all the money you will make from a sale, however you do it, unless you just waste it or get into stuff that actually degrades the quality of life for you and your family.

    What would be quite awesome –and cement your legacy in geekdom forever (maybe even more than the Google guys) — is to make the fruits of your intellectual labors — the technology behind how you’ve been able to build and run plentyoffish.com as one person — available to the rest of us not-rich-yet geeks who have to toil under the burdens of Dilbert style pointy haired bosses everyday.

    Please patent it and place it in the public domain…or just open source it. Else somebody you sell it to — or the company they resell it to — will one day lock it up — and the day might come when no one else will be able to use your hard work for good without threat of a lawsuit…even you!!

    That would truly suck. Imagine not being able to use your own techniques in years and decades to come because some company (maybe after your technology changes hands a few times) with a big legal budget just keeps threatening, suing and dragging you into court over intellectual property lawsuits until you give up using it yourself and cry “uncle”.

    Or even worse, then beats up other geeks without the money to fight any legal bullying (especially those who come up with a better offering, and who thus threaten the existing business that owns your technology, thus impeding progress and impoverishing the worlds in untold ways forever).

    Please don’t let this happen, Markus. The world would be poorer for want of the freedom to freely use your technological insights and methods for all kinds of good works and worthwhile web sites, all over the world in all languages and cultures.

    Heck, making it available to other people with good ideas would be the best philanthropy you could do.

    Who knows how much good in the world might be done by lots and lots of people running sites for all kinds of good causes and uses backed and made economical and doable because of the enabling power of YOUR intellectual children.

    How much good might you do by open sourcing your technology?

    Please let the intellectual fruits of your labors go forth and multiply, Markus. Al least for us lesser geeks, please.

    Thank you again for everything. I’ve been following your story since you posted about plenty of fish having about 400 members (when your site had the dolphins jumping out of the water at the top of your home page).

    Here’s hoping for your benevolence to others…as well as the absolute best wishes to you and yours in all regards,

    Louis

  28. Mayo Says:

    As i said, i really don’t see the problem for your company to make 30-50MM $US in profit!

    It would be best to see what Eben Pagan a.k.a. David DeAngelo has to say… he has some 80 “virtual” employees around the country/world.. http://www.getaltitude.com

    also check out Chet Homes @ http://www.chetholmes.com

    4 hour work week book by Tim Ferris is also a great inspiration… check it out if you haven’t yet!

    also check out Carlos & Lupe Garcia http://www.traffictactics.com….

    i wish very best in the future to you Markus and to rest of you wannabe guy’s/gal’s…

  29. neal Says:

    Ha – man if I were you I’d sell in a heartbeat. What you’ve built is nothing short of phenominal but I’d be scared the odds of a fall are pretty strong from here forward. You’re reliant on free traffic to keep your business going and have been very lucky, but what is just around the corner? I’d personally rather lock in the value now and walk away otherwise you’re taking a big risk you may regret later on.

    Just my $.02

    Good luck.

  30. Mayo Says:

    Of course taking couple 100MM is nothing bad…

    if you put in few management funds at 15-25% rate of returns p.a. you can really just relax and drink pina-coladas for a pretty long time.. that is some 30-50MM$US p.a. for you without doing anything if you sell for 100-200MM$US… and i really don’t see the problem of getting that price or even higher!

    now count this Markus:

    ->offer of min. 200MM$US purchase offer

    -> you exiting the state for at least 183 days out of Canada + establishing the corporation in some 0% tax haven(talk with some expert in the field of tax avoidance.. be aware of the scammers and use the best offices for that!!)

    -> sale and transfer of money to the multiple reputable investment management funds (Templeton & co., http://www.turtletrader.com for some others high flier investment firms)

    -> living of the 20-50MM$US of annual income from the funds..

    -> ammasing in next 10 years the fortune of extra 500MM$US from the investment funds on the basis of that 200MM$US sale.. now in you lifetime that ammount of cash will be several BB if all is good…

    anyway.. you only have an embarrassment of offer..

  31. Mayo Says:

    btw..

    don’t gamble with your money!

    go with the sure winner!

  32. Webicus Says:

    Marcus,

    Come on, man — Just think of all the blow & hookers you could buy with $200 million.

    - Webicus

  33. FT Says:

    Markus,

    Congrats on your mega success! I’m sure you’ll find even greater success as you move into building your business.

    Personally, I would sell, and walk with the 9 figures in pocket, but i’m not you and I haven’t had anywhere near your success, yet. :)

    Continued prosperity.

    Fred

  34. Christian Says:

    Sell,
    Cash in on what is truly an accomplishment. With your talent you should be able to start another site and continue to dominate. I think that the fun lies in the building stages of a business and website, turning concepts into reality; you have already done that. The rest will be administrative work. Who wants to administrate? Not me, and I am willing to bet that that is not going to be your favorite task. A guy like you is a builder/inventor not a desk jockey.

    IMHO,
    Christian

  35. Eric Says:

    Sell before something goes wrong. You’ve only seen great growth, but with a team that may not continue forever. Take the cash and relax.

  36. DG Says:

    If you do sell, get a better deal than the co-founder of match.com who today claims to be worth only $10M: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/technology/05rich.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

  37. Errol Mars Says:

    Good luck on whatever direction you choose to go in. I think you will be able to at lease triple your revenue over the short term with the help of a sales team. I know you have a very valuable asset based on what I know of some POF users. These are not so called losers but out going professional working women with disposable income who’s life is based around The Phone, Email, Facebook (networking for work) and POF (social networking).

  38. JT Says:

    For those of you advocating Markus selling, just to be clear he needs to build out the business before he can do that. He needs engineers to understand and take over his coding, server maintenance and the rest. Right now its just him and a server, no one can just waltz in and take it over. But if Markus has a team of people that can look after it independantly…bang, he’s got something to sell.

    And don’t give away equity! This idea that you can only get great people by giving away 1-2% of the company is nonsense. Settle for just “good people” then, and keep it all. You don’t see any other businesses doing things like this. I know a big publishing company in Canada that has grown 10x in the past few years and they not only give away no equity, they don’t even pay that well. Their turnover rate is high but they get by just fine.

  39. Andrew Says:

    To JT:

    You have some good points but websites sell all the time and most aren’t businesses. People are always looking to buy a new high-traffic website. Markus has something that website buyers have never seen before: one of the top websites that isn’t owned by a corporation. Someone, maybe many will be interested in his site.

  40. victor Says:

    am i the only person who thinks that his site has pretty much peaked in value because it is a ‘free’ site and he makes money from advertising his competitors via. Match.com dont advertise their rivals…lol

    if POF gets too big then the rivals will struggle and hence pay less on Google ie less for him in adsense unless he completely cleans up and becomes the monopoly player and then can charge membership ;o)

  41. victor Says:

    oops:

    am i the only person who thinks that his site has pretty much peaked in value because it is a ‘free’ site and he makes money from advertising his competitors via ADSENSE…

  42. SensoryMetrics: re-inventing the User eXperience » What would you do with 2 million unique monthly visitors? Says:

    [...] diet to dating… The Sparkpeople deal had Plenty Of Fish founder Markus Frind pondering the future too. His business is getting too big to run as a one-man show. He gets 65 [...]

  43. FT Says:

    JT,

    If you have a site with the traffic and visitor loyalty Markus has with plentyoffish, there will absolutely be buyers lining up to pay top dollar.

    I’m sure if someone were to hand him $100 Million, he wouldn’t simply walk the next day. He’d most likely work with them to integrate into their system or help them in setting things up.

  44. Terry Taillard Says:

    Marcus,

    I have only recently heard your story and, as the founder of a new online business I too am building on my own, have looked to you as an inspiration. I am glad you have decided to build a business and look forward to watching and learning.

    Best of luck!

  45. Martin Says:

    One thing I guarantee most people will say is “Dont Sell”. If you want my opinion, – Sell. Why? – I just did the same, (on a much smaller scale, relatively speaking), but still enough to net a couple hundred thousand dollars, and the clarity once you have sold, the relief, and the renewed focus are amazing, and unlike me, you dont even have to worry about selling your main source of income, and you will aready be made for life (well a thousand lives over).

    Sell, and tour, telling businesses your story, you already have a huge fan base.

  46. Jimmy Says:

    Strategic generosity made Gillette big, and Microsoft and others. And plentyoffish. What is a company worth without the value of it’s brand? You’ve made it. Don’t be hasty. You’ve only just started! Synergizing your brand will only add to all the fun you’ll still have with your business. Man! I can just see that television syndication, those magazine columns, the talk radio showpreps, etc. With a brand like plentyoffish, the list of possibles becomes attractively long.

  47. JT Says:

    FT: I hear you. But if Markus gets hit by a bus, as far as I can tell right now the whole site will spin out in a number of weeks. Markus has a million little tricks and details to making his site work, and he needs to be able to get it out all and down so others can take it over/replicate it. I know from our own simple internet business, just trying to explain what I do to my partner… it wasn’t easy and my partner still can’t do what I do anywhere near as well as I do. Let alone something as complicated as POF.

    Now try and pitch that to the group of lawyers and accountants who will need to sign off on this deal. This isn’t going to bode well for the due diligence process. “Let’s give $100 million of shareholder money to a guy who could be struck down at any time?”

    But if/when Markus gets an official business setup and running and hands off his duties to other employees? Then you have it all, and a sale is EASY. IF that’s the way he wants to go.

  48. JT Says:

    Jimmy:
    Synergizing your brand: Does POF have much brand equity right now? I’m not sure a POF TV show about dating or POF columns would add much to the bottom line. It’s not Starbucks. POF’s design is decidedly anti-brand, as Markus I think would be the first to attest to. He’s had plenty of money and opportunity to bring in highly paid professionals to redesign the site. The lack of overly corporate “Branding” elements has arguably played a strong role in the success of the site, in the click-ratio of the ads, and so on.

    The internet is a new world, new media. People use the site to connect, and the connections are the most important element. Not the “feel good” about the look and feel and other branding elements.

    But of course this should be tested with a research group before moving one way on it or another.

  49. Christian Says:

    I do not think the site has peaked at all. If you want to look at ppc as your only revenue source that might be the case. But i do not think that is the case either. I think that Markus will be able to monetize in other more traditional fashions as well, just because it is a dating site doesn’t mean that the advertisiing model should just be geared toward dating. With that many eyes he could successfuly sell cookies on his site. The sky is the limit with the amount of traffic that POF recieves.

  50. Ryan Says:

    Markus,

    You are making the wrong choice. You have maxed out your own core competency (the technology), and are now venturing into territory that is simply a different animal. The value that you can extract from selling will most likely be greater than what you can extract by you trying to build an organization. Someone who is experienced at building an organization will base the purchase price on their future projections of revenues opportunities. My guess is that such a person will be able to do a better job at extracting maximum revenue than you, since running an organization is not your core competency. Know your limits! Besides, why do you want the headaches of dealing with organizational issues? There is a reason why company founders always let professional managers take over.

  51. Richard Lucas Says:

    If you want to stay independent, then

    Have you considered on line ad agencies as opposed to employees. They exist here in Europe.

    I know a couple of guys who own a lot of low income on line ad space real estate in Europe and they have sales through agencies. every now and a again an airline, or big consumer company starts popping up all over their sites.

    The great advantage of an agency is you don’t have an employee. all that labour regulation…

    I employ 350 people.. I think you are dong great with this as it is.

    I agree with the comments above about you needing to teach someone else how it all works. Maybe have an intern..

    I would have thought that the high traffic sites like Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Myspace might be interested in buying you, and have you as a separate brand, and keeping you on

    As an entrepreneur I can see lots of opportunities to offer (but not force)
    payable additional products.services to your users.

    You could also be a technology consultant, explaining to IT depts your know how.

    I change jobs every few months, and might be ready to help as a consultant with a few ideas

    Good luck whatever you decide to do

    Richard

  52. Noel Says:

    Having sold a large Canadian tech company 15 years ago and walked away with enough $ to retire on, I sure wouldn’t sell again if I had the choice. I didn’t have much to do after the sale. (I had no choice as my business had inventory that had to be paid for sooner than the accounts receivable I collected from my customers. I started the business on ZERO equity with no partners, no outside equity, and sales reached double-digit millions within 3 years and continued to grow at 60%/yr). In the fifth year I had enough of borrowing from the bank and having all of my profits in inventory (to fuel future growth).

    Now, in your situation, with no partners, no inventory, A/R, extremely low costs and growing revenue, I would stay independent. You already have your competitive advantage and it isn’t in having a bigger staff or sales team. I can tell you that being able to grow from a one-man band into managing a lot of people is not easy and gives you more degrees of business instability. I would also stay away from the advice of lawyers and accountants with regard to business as they make great lawyers and accountants, but not businessmen. And remember the investment bankers will tell you anything to extract a fee from the transaction that they may be able to talk you into. They care about little else than their fee.

    Anyhow, you might make more money, but there will be a great degree of risk and you might not like your new role. And, how much money do you need to be happy?

  53. Martin Says:

    Its true, it has to be said, that after the sale you can end up so bored you almost start getting depression. No kidding, I know, if you do sell, make sure you have something lined up to get stuck into. I went a month without anything to do after my sale, and I felt like blowing my brains out. Its the buzz you miss.

  54. Noel Says:

    Well, that’s not really a problem for Markus – He doesn’t really have much to do right now! ;)

  55. Ryan Says:

    Right. The reasoning of not having something to do after sale is nonsense. Markus can role right into a new project.

    Markus, the smart move is to sell and move onto something new. You won’t get much more value than you have now without a lot of pain and risk.

  56. Chappers Says:

    Markus

    Not an expert, but am a user of both match.com and POF. My views are as follows:

    I would have thought that a lot of companies would be worried about buying POF at the moment simply because it isnt set up as a company (am I right?). Also problems with transfer of knowledge – everything revolves around you. What if you fell under a bus tomorrow?

    I now understand what you are doing. You are making POF attractive for sale. You cannot do it now because its just you. Therefore, in retrospect, you are probably doing the right thing by going ‘corporate’. Selling companies is all about the shop front. Investors want to see headcount, profitability, revenue, competition, projections, cash flow, multiples, revenue streams, etc etc.

    God, you need the right people. Get people with experience of moving from small to large in Internet related ventures. Meet and greet everyone personally. Get a good PR company. Get a decent CEO. Incentivise with success related cash. Keep 100% of the equity. Engage a ‘large’ corporate finance advisor with experience of internet ventures.

    (1) Give your site a ‘corporate’ look and feel i.e. new logo & design etc.
    (2) Engage users to become POF licensed party/night out arrangers. They get % of entrance income to various parties hosted. e.g. “POF Party Network”. They pay fees to become licensed ‘party arrangers’.
    (3) Sell ad space direct to corporates – best area would be banks (note your earlier post on http://www.moneysupermarket.com) or media. Obtain revenue from referalls.
    (4) POF merchandise?
    (5) Allow ‘winks’ or ‘send a kiss’ on your site.
    (6) Make POF available in other languages?
    (7) Licence the ‘algorithm’ or whatever makes your site’s programming unique to other corporates. Set up a consulting team to offer these services.
    (8) Write and publish a book on your story (or get it ghost written) – your background, history, learning curve, ‘going viral’, adsense optimisation, media attention etc
    (9) Use the POF volume to develop other spaces – careers/jobs, for example, would be huge.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Good luck with it.

    Chappers
    http://www.free-research.com

  57. Jimmy Says:

    plentyoffish has now achieved what everyone usually tries to achieve: rake in the numbers. Every entrepreneur has, or should have, a strategy in place for the day those numbers (OTS) are reached. plentyoffish should be readied for above-the-line or, in the least, beyond-the-line. The critical dimension for plentyoffish is not to let the reaching of critical MASS becomes the reaching of critical MESS.

  58. Lisa Says:

    A man or woman’s financial success should not be based on how many millions she made, but rather how many millionaires she made.

  59. Are You Getting Maximum Dollar For Your Ad Space? | John Chow dot Com Says:

    [...] Markus Frind of Pleny of Fish is facing the maximum income vs. user experience problem on a grander scale. His free dating site makes over $6 million a year, which sounds great. However, Match.com makes [...]

  60. Tim Spangler Says:

    Do what you have to do in order to get PoF in a position to sell, then take the money and run. Throw a big party and go out ballin’ on the town.

    Then read “The Four-Hour Workweek” and take what Ferriss calls a “mini-retirement.” Sit on the beach sipping top-shelf drinks bought with your newfound fortune and think.

    Really THINK.

    About what you want in your life and what you want to do next. Sure, you’ll have enough money to live very comfortably for many lifetimes, but someone as bright and young as you is going to want something a little more challenging out of life than sitting by the pool all day.

    When you’ve thought it all through, come back and try and do it all over again. Join the ranks of the Skype guys as a serial entrepreneur and get your jollies from doing things nobody has dared to try yet.

    And always remember that you – one guy working out of his apartment – took on the big guys in one of the internet’s most competitive industries and held your own. Maybe throw in some speaking gigs at internet business conferences in there somewhere. Lots of people look up to you and want to hear about how you did it. I know that seeing your impressive numbers at the top of John Chow’s Google Whores post changed the very foundation of the way I look at earning a living and enjoying life.

    Good luck Markus!

  61. Dave Forde - The Connector (Profectio.com) Says:

    No matter what you choose to do, be damn proud of what you have achieved by yourself!!! Reading through some of the other comments it is probably accurate that you’d have to do a quite a bit of work to make the site ready for a buyer to completely understand the inner works. If that is the case you might be better to hire a sales & maketing team and continue to re-invest in the site.

    Go for gold and stay true to your original idea for lauching in the first place!

    Dave

  62. daft Says:

    I’m a little late to the party here. Not sure how many veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneurs read this blog, but my advice would be – SELL. You are one of the dominant players in the space now. Things can change quickly. Overnight. I was in your position once, as an early employee of Inktomi (through an acquisition). You may not even know who they were. They were the dominant search engine company in the Valley, sitting on top of the world in 1999-2000. Then Google came along. The rest is history. I only needed to make that mistake once. I am about to sell my current company. Think of your “portfolio” right now as an extremely undiversified investment. So what if there is still significant upside? The spring of 2000 looked glorious to many of us. The Fall of 2007 looks glorious to many. perhaps too many. Sell now. You are young and will have plenty of time to work on equally satisfying opportunities – we live in the golden age of software development.

  63. Learn From an Adsense Millionaire: Notes on Markus Frind and PlentyofFish.com Says:

    [...] Time to Sell? (13) [...]

  64. Learn From an Adsense Millionaire: Notes on Markus Frind and PlentyofFish.com | Sam's BLOG Says:

    [...] Time to Sell? (13) [...]

  65. mitesh Says:

    price should be higher – one of the reasons will be – the optimized setup you have.

    Good luck – whatever u decide

  66. Technology and Design Development Says:

    [...] [ii] “Time to sell?”, Markus Friend, August 2007, http://plentyoffish.wordpress.com/2007/08/03/time-to-sell/ [...]

  67. Drew Says:

    Marcus,

    Could you throw a bone my way?

    http://www.friendpad.com

    You are dah man!
    Drew

  68. Jason Says:

    Word from the wise. Take the money and run.

  69. Untold Story About Getting Started With Adsense > Internet Marketing > Front Page Articles - Article Directory Says:

    [...] Time to sell? « The Paradigm Shift [...]

  70. Steketee Says:

    happy day :))

  71. 17 Tips on Building a Profitable Online Business « Blog Sitter Says:

    [...] Time to Sell? (13) [...]

  72. H Lewis Says:

    Markus, i have an effective, simple way to monitze your website, It requires no addition of employees. Looking forward to hearing from you, H. Lewis

  73. Heath Lewis Says:

    I have reviewed your traffic and estimate $60-$80 million a month in revenue , this estimate is factored losing 90% of your current traffic. This requires no selling , no hiring etc, etc. This system can be implemented in less than 2 months. Looking forward to sharing with you.. Heath@singleservesolutions.com

  74. Kerry Harrap Says:

    Hi,

    We’ve been looking over your website http://plentyoffish.wordpress.com/2007/08/03/time-to-sell/, I work on behalf of a reputable insurance company here in the UK. We would be very interested in purchasing advertising on your website. In the way of either a homepage text link, sitewide text link or sponsored post.

    Could you please let us know your rates for any of the above that you offer?

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind Regards,
    Kerry Harrap

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 243 other followers

%d bloggers like this: