2008 was a good year, now #13 in the US.

hitwise top sites by pageviews

hitwise top sites by pageviews

I had a good year this year,  taking over the top spots for dating in both the US and the UK.     In the US I managed to break into the top 10 sites  in terms of pageviews if you combine Yahoo and googles properties  otherwise I’m between 12 and 13 on any given day according to hitwise.  Its cool to be the only company in this list that isn’t actually based in the US.

hitwisemarketshare

In just the dating category  we’ve blown past Match.com and Eharmony which sit between 3 –  5% marketshare in the US.      Since the recession began in the US in Sept  i’ve seen the signup to relationship ratio of the site increase by 10%,   i’ve also seen the attrition rate go down significantly.   There has also been huge volatility around signups since sept  so its been hard to draw conclusions.    Most importantly unlike other years  where signups tend to plunge 30% in December every year i’m seeing no decline in signups in the US this year.   This decline is normally followed by a 30% increase in signups (above the november average)  starting Dec 26th….   This all points to Plentyoffish finally going mainstream in a huge way in 2009 in the US.

I still haven’t hired a tech guy to watch over the servers,   that will be the first thing i’ll do in 2009,   getting tired of running every aspect of the site except customer service  myself!

50 Responses to “2008 was a good year, now #13 in the US.”

  1. Sam Moorcroft Says:

    Marcus.

    How’s that 20 hour workday going? Sorry, I meant 2 hours;-)

  2. TS Says:

    LOL. Looks like Markus is trying hard to find a buyer for PoF. Better do it quick. If facebook goes BK, PoF will follow suit within 6-10 months. 10 Million dollars is probably accurate valuation for PoF.

  3. Sam Moorcroft Says:

    TS, 10 million valuation? Where do you get that from? Take his revenue and multiply that by 5x – there’s your valuation. He is hardly grossing $2M annually. Try $50M+ – on the conservative side.

  4. pedalpete Says:

    Congratulations Markus! That’s amazing.
    As a solo start-up in your neighborhood (Whistler, BC), this is very inspiring as to what can be done in the right market, at the right time, with the right approach.
    Let me know if you are ever in the Whistler area, it would be great to meet-up.

    Also, I totally agree with Sam, a $10million Valuation for PoF is crazy. Even $50M sounds low. I don’t think all the potential revenue streams have been realized. (drop me a line Markus and I’ll let you know what I mean).

  5. TS Says:

    Here is how I came up with the valuation:

    According to that last check Markus showed to the world, yes, PoF is probably getting 2M/year revenue. What about cost? Markus pays 1Gbit bandwidth or about 5k-10K per month or 100K/year. Then hardware another 100K. Then CDN fees. (I assume that he’s hitting 500mbits on the CDNs now.) That’s easily 100K a year. Employee cost: 200K/year(Markus has to pay himself too) Out of the 2M/year revenue, probably profit is somewhere around 1.2M-1.5M. Ad market is crashing right now. The fact that Markus put up virtual goods is a very negative sign that he is no longer maintaining the rate of revenue. Giving a 7-8x PE ratio for a 10 Million valuation is probably accurate. Microsoft has a PE ratio of 10 right now.

    I would love to see the idiot who buys PoF for 50 Million “conservative valuation.” By the way, god knows what the facebook’s CFO is doing in Dubai to get oil money right now. Facebook, under my estimation is within months of insolvency if no new money is poured into it. Remember, any business valuation will have to take the cost side into consideration. Facebook costs 200 Million dollars a year to keep their lights on and employees paid. The same thing applies to PoF. Your 50 million conservative valuation is saying that PoF is worth 30+ times earnings and 25 times sales. Even Apple right now is valued at 16 times earnings. Are you saying PoF is worth twice as much as Apple?

  6. Sam Moorcroft Says:

    So, site visits have exploded in the past 4 years or so (from that last cheque), but revenue hasn’t? That make absolultely zero sense.

    If POF *isn’t* making $10-20M/year, then something is seriously wrong – either clickthru rates on his site (and his alone) are drastically out of whack with click rates across the Net or someone is secretly playing with his code and siphoning all that cash out (yeah, right), OR, he is making a whack of cash.

    Heck, *we* are easily worth north of $10M – and compare our traffic with his: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/plentyoffish.com+christiancafe.com/?metric=uv

    So, unless valuations fall flat for POF (and, again, him and him alone), then he is worth a lot more than us – a lot more.

    The other thing to consider is that his valuation wouldn’t be based on a subscription model, as POF makes off ads. It would be based on eyeballs, not payments.

    The market has clearly, and consistently, shown over the last 10 years that valuations for that kind of site are out of this world. So, $50M is a *grossly* conservative valuation.

    Now, where Marcus’ achilles heel is could throw a monkey-wrench into the whole deal: he and POF are one and the same. And, he has a real problem working with anyone (IMHO). You need basic business social skills – and his are severely lacking. The arrogance he has is partly due to marketing savvy – it works. However, that arrogance is not an act. And, that could hurt him, severely. Him and POF being inseparable is the real issue, though.

    Just my two cents.

  7. Sam Moorcroft Says:

    One more thing, TS – why hide? Identify yourself for the public record.

  8. James Cogan Says:

    As a fellow Canadian ‘one-man media’ operation I have a tremendous amount of respect for Markus and his accomplishments with POF. With his own two hands, Markus has undeniably built one of the most trafficked websites on the planet, period. How much money POF / Markus makes is, as far as I’m concerned, none of our business. The beauty of being an entrepreneur, and in Markus’ case, one who is totally self-sustainable (and then some), is that he controls his and POF’s destiny and has to answer to nobody but himself and can move, shift strategy or make major changes on the fly with no friction from outsiders or outside money. Way to go Markus, keep kickin’ ass!

  9. TS Says:

    Site visits have exploded …sure.. CPM has also fallen from 30 dollars per CPM to now 10-20 cents per CPM. Are you sure the 10x size can make up for a 100x reduction in CPM?

    Right now only Markus knows how much he is making from Ad Sense. As he already said that “the golden age of Ad sense is gone”.

    If PoF is making 10-20 Million per year, Markus wouldn’t be so desperate for virtual goods. Sam you are just trying to prove PoF’s overvaluation so that you can feel good about your own. It is just that simple.

    I feel no need to argue further. Markus has been surprisingly quiet recently. Without more recent data, valuation is just a guestimation. However, one thing must be said: Facebook is hardly worth 1 Billion in my opinion yet Microsoft was willing to value 1.5% of it at 15 Billion. It doesn’t mean facebook can capitulate itself wholly for that high valuation. And the old model is “hits or unique visitor” model is also dead. That old model assumes that the Ad CPM rate would be stable, which we know now isn’t true.

    Well, eventually PoF would be sold one day. Let’s just wait and see if my 10 million dollar valuation is closer or your 50 Million+ valuation is closer. I bet you a dozen Coronas that final transaction price will be close to my number.

  10. TS Says:

    One more thing for you Sam: since I assume you started ChristianCafe, you must be aware of what is going to happen to that site. Since Bush partially nationalized the banks in the US, arguably the country now is partially socialist. There is a co-dependence between Christianity and Capitalism, that one must be healthy for the other to make sense.

    Many churches now in the states are losing members due to the financial crisis. Since your website has a correlation to religion, you better be prepared to a huge dip in the next two to three years, until one day, the banks buys the loans back from the government, and hopefully the country would then return to the normal pure capitalist ways.

  11. bigp Says:

    Congrats on the phenominal growth and continued good luck in 2009!

  12. Sam Moorcroft Says:

    TS, why the (continued) anonyminity?

    1. Since when was POF ever getting $30CPM? This isn’t 1994. And, AdSense is based on CPC, not CPM. I don’t need to justify my valuation. I know what it is. We had had interest since *before* we started and it has continued unabated. We simply aren’t interested (among other reasons, we don’t need the money to live the dream; we already are. Consequently, VC’s and potential acquirers have no appeal).

    I would hardly call Marcus “desparate”. He simply wants to expand his revenue.

    2. What on earth does Bush and nationalism have to do with the need for singles to connect (in our case, also stay within the faith)? If the biological imperative to connect ceases, then you’ll be right. Until then…

    “Co-dependence between Christianity and Capitalism” – excuse me?

    What do ministries and churches losing revenues have to do with anything online dating related? You are getting a little Marxist on me.

  13. DNAtest Says:

    Many churches now in the states are losing members due to the financial crisis. Since your website has a correlation to religion, you better be prepared to a huge dip in the next two to three years, until one day, the banks buys the loans back from the government, and hopefully the country would then return to the normal pure capitalist ways.

  14. Trevor Says:

    Congratulations on the growth!, it is very inspiring (as a solo designer) to see what is possible do with technology and hard work. Best of luck in 09.

  15. Plentyoffish Not in Danger of Over Fishing, Increases Market Share Says:

    […] while Match and eHarmony have only managed to amass 3 – 5% market share. According to Frind’s Plentyoffish blog, not only is Plentyoffish the top dating site in the US and the UK, but it’s continuing to […]

  16. JoeDuck Says:

    Markus you are an inspiration to us all. Amazing work dude.

  17. y8 Says:

    Very good. # 13 in the U.S. challenging process too

  18. y3 Says:

    Y8 says: Very good. # 13 in the U.S. challenging process too

    Yes. Very good. We all know is very difficult to achieve

  19. saurav_rani Says:

    how to join plentyoffish. everytime it says that email exists. any invite to saurav_rani@ymail.com

  20. Myspace Proxies 360 » Plentyoffish Not in Danger of Over Fishing, Increases Market Share Says:

    […] while Match and eHarmony have only managed to amass 3 – 5% market share. According to Frind’s Plentyoffish blog, not only is Plentyoffish the top dating site in the US and the UK, but it’s continuing to […]

  21. russell Says:

    Cool, reference quality: you back up what I’ve been thinking bout in a practical and profitable way. Bet them servers sorted tho ;-)

  22. Patrik Says:

    @Markus

    Congrats and nice work.

    @Markus and anyone else

    I am sure this has been asked before but why does Markus not serve his own ads via his own ad server? Or perhaps renegotiate with Google his cut of the ad revenue?

  23. Top Posts « WordPress.com Says:

    […] 2008 was a good year, now #13 in the US. I had a good year this year,  taking over the top spots for dating in both the US and the UK.     In the US I […] […]

  24. Plentyoffish no está en peligro de pescar de más, aumenta su cuota de mercado | Mashable Says:

    […] que Match y eHarmony sólo han conseguido ganar de 3 a 5% de la cuota de mercado. Según el blog de Plentyoffish de Frinds no sólo Plentyoffish es el sitio de citas más importante en los Estados Unidos y el […]

  25. Free can be a Perfectly Good Business Model | The Next Corner Says:

    […] 2008 was a good year for Plenty of Fish. As Markus describes in his blogpost, the site grew significant, and became the #13 destination in the US (according to Hitwise). Plenty Of Fish grew like hell… […]

  26. metfan2000 Says:

    hey nice blog if anyone wants to check out my new one here’s the link http://speakyomind.wordpress.com

  27. KodoTrade Says:

    wow… great numbers…
    More visitors :)

    Wish i made one of these sites.

  28. WakeUp Says:

    Sell your site now and retire rich!!! Do not let your big ego get in your way!

    Look at the CEO of Yahoo and do the oppisite. A year from now you could be worth allot less.

    Look at John Wu’s story, he ditched the ego and took the money.

    Big ego’s don’t pay for a life style.

  29. chika Says:

    Markus I’m constantly inspired by your achievements. Keep going!

    However if you do receive an excellent offer to sell, take it. You’ve created a huge success once and you can do it again..

  30. Universal Indie Records Says:

    “However if you do receive an excellent offer to sell, take it. You’ve created a huge success once and you can do it again..”

    Not always the case. Not many entrepreneurs have had successful “second go rounds”.

    Shawn Fanning instantly comes to mind….

  31. Ron Says:

    One of the major mistakes Markus is making is bashing paid sites on his website. After all, these are his largest advertisers and by bashing them he is shooting himself in the foot. The POF constituency is already the rural/low income and less educated mostly, not what advertisers would salivate over and by bashing his major advertisers he makes his users even less valuable, i.e. users less likely to sign up/pay, therefore less valuable from an advertiser’s perspective which lowers his CPC/CPM.

    Why would you do that? That never made sense to me. It’s like a CBS anchor saying “this show is sponsored by Coca Cola, but that drink tastes like garbage”.

  32. kimbjo Says:

    Hey Markus

    Adult Friend Finder just filed for their IPO, they’re generating 350 million per annum and kicking almost 20% of that to their bottom line.

    Their page views? oh yah who cares, they don’t matter. page Views don’t feed the ex wife or the illegitimate kids.

    The reason you have more page views than match.com is because you’re refreshing every single profile page every 3 seconds… Match refuses to dumb down their quality of experience because people are paying to be there. So… I don’t really know if you’re #13 in the USA… maybe if you define the ‘win condition’ through a narrow favorable set of criteria… then yes, congrats.

  33. Manwar Says:

    POF sucks. Every account made, properly filled out, gets deleted by the overzealous filtering system.

    Markus also lies about how much he makes.

  34. weblaureate Says:

    might as well dip my toe into this sea, with your ever increasing success. maybe i will ‘get lucky’ and be less single in ’09 (fingers crossed). also, thinking – http://web-poet.com/2008/12/27/plentyoffish/

  35. Toon-c Says:

    congrats Markus ..
    you’ve always been an inspiration to us ..

    thanks for that ..

  36. colleenstoltz Says:

    I enjoy thinking one day I will meet someone, I work alot, and will never be able to even have a chance to date other wise. I can never retair, so this is very good mentaly.

  37. Plenty of Fish’s Perverse Incentives | Hive Blog Says:

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  38. Anonymous Says:

    Joining in here rather late. Congratulations, M! This is just a fantastic blog, and I love your wry sense of humor. Ron, I think Markus adopts the Guenther Grass mentality towards the advertisers and everyone else, namely Sie koennen mich alle, which means, they can go to hell, for all he cares, because there will always be the next advertiser. A crucial part of the successful model, is, in my opinion, a lack of excessive greed.

  39. Y8 Says:

    Very cool article. Keep up the good work.

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  43. Friv Says:

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  44. friv Says:

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  46. y8 Says:

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