Seems every day now you hear about another social network startup. From what people in the industry have been telling me there are between 300 and 400 new social networking/dating startups in the last 2 years. Only 4 or 5 of those sites will be around in another 4 or 5 years.
In the last week alone I’ve seen a bunch of free dating sites/social networking hybrids. Paird.com, engage.com and justsayhi.com. Of course none of these sites stand any chance of success. The reason is very simple, there is a 30% turn over per month for online dating sites. Social networking sites don’t have a high turn over, if you sign up a million people in a year on something like facebook, you have 800,000 active users at the end of the year. If you sign up a million users on a dating site in 12 months you have 80,000 active users at the end of the year if you are lucky.
Myspace recently commented that one of their fastest growing segments was ages 35+, these users are signing up in the millions and in the process the core dating demographic is leaving dating sites. I notice this in a big way on my site, competing against social networking is very very hard. Users used to sign up to a dating site, leave after 3 months and then come back 5 months later to do it agian. Now users sign up to social networking sites and when they are single again they start dating people off the social network and don’t make the effort to sign up to a dating site again.
So what does the future hold? A lot of carnage, a good 250 startups in the social networking/dating space going bellyup in the next 2-3 years.