Even though I’m technically “semiretired,” I work all the time.
I write, which I love, invest, which I love, am starting up a new venture, which I love doing, and I have lots of friends, all of whom I love.
So my life is busy – very busy – but it isn’t completely full.
I don’t make time to go out and find someone. And – no surprise to anyone – no one comes knocking at my door saying, “Hi there, I’ve wanted to meet you.”
I’m betting that lots of you are in a similar situation.
My good friend Bill told me I was “antediluvian” (which I had to look up) and that I should join this century and go online. So, I did.
Without going into which service I’m on, I’m only on one, all I’ll say about it is… it’s great.
Now let me tell you why – as investors – you need to pay attention to it…
The Fabulous ’60s
Online dating is a phenomenal Disruptor of Disruptors. It’s a “Social Disruptor” – and it underscores that these agents of change don’t have to relate to technology or finance to still have a major impact on the world.
And to create opportunities for massive investing profits…
So-called “computer dating” has been around since the 1960s. In fact, there’s an interesting story about that.
A student project at Stanford University (big surprise there) became the first-known computer-dating service when an IBM 650 determined similarities between 98 subjects based on a 30-question profile.
There was little romance in the punch cards for participants, but the students received an “A.”
In 1966, an Indiana University graduate created “Project Flame,” which was pitched as another of the “computer-dating services” that were becoming popular then.
Students again filled out punch-card questionnaires, but were not actually matched using a computer. Instead, the Indiana grad and his friends randomly shuffled the cards together – providing the “illusion” of a computerized expertise.
A realer experience was created that same year by two Harvard University undergraduates, Jeff Tarr and Vaughn Morrill. Within months of being launched, this computerized dating system – known as Operation Match – received 8,000 applicants (52% of them women) from nearby universities and colleges.
Kind of like the early version of Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) – a massive Social Disruptor, itself, and one that underscores the profit potential of this people-focused agent of change – the target audience for Operation Match was Ivy League-type schools like Harvard, Yale, Vassar, Amherst, Williams and Mount Holyoke. Within nine months, and using rented time on mainframe computers, Morrill and Tarr attracted 90,000 applicants and grossed $270,000.
In a famous statement, Tarr told an interviewer that “we’re not trying to take the love out of love. We’re just trying to make it more efficient.”
Computer dating has morphed into online dating. And it’s gone from being a bit of frivolity focused on college kids to a mainstream business worth more than $2 billion a year – and with incredible “ripple effect” potential.
If you have any doubt, start paying attention to TV commercials. There are those serial messages from eHarmony.com, others from Match.com and the spots from CougarLife.com that are definite attention-getters. And those are just a few of the ones you’ll see if you watch carefully.
The Survey Says…
Say what you want about all those TV spots, one thing is clear: Online dating is changing the world.
The world is changing because people are changing. I’m talking about people being born, growing up, moving, getting married, staying single, and getting old and dying.
I’m talking about the cycle of life. But I’m also talking about demographics: the statistical study of human populations.
Demographics are changing… rapidly. And those changes are disrupting everything.
The biggest demographic change the world is experiencing right now is its aging population and low birth rates, both of which are problems in terms of economics.
Within that dynamic there are the married and single demographics. And that, in turn, pretty much determines the planet’s birth rate.
I’m smack dab in the middle of that dynamic.
I’m aging, and I also don’t have kids – meaning I’m part of the low-birth-rate issue.
While I don’t think I’m a problem, nor do I think being single is a problem, being single is a Social Disruptor phenomenon.
I’ll cover the single economy and all the disruptions that stem from that new paradigm, but today I want to talk about being single.
I’m doing my part, thanks to new disruptor options for singles, to not be single, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll do my part for population growth. But I’ll get to that.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 50.2% of America’s 248.2 million people are single. The most recent statistics say that 30.4% of those singles have never been married (I checked that box) and 19.8% are divorced.
Sixty percent of singles in the U.S. have been single for five years or more. I easily fall into the “more” category.
One poll I read (I’ve been doing my own polling of singles lately, but I’ll get to that) found that 38% of single women surveyed felt stigmatized by being single, while only 29% of men felt there was a stigma attached to “being single.” I’m not in that polled group.
What I want to talk about is dating in the single world we live in today. You know, that thing that comes, sometimes, before getting married, which sometimes leads to kids.
While dating is the same as it ever was – you know how it works – how you get a date has completely changed.
Sure, the old tried-and-true methods of meeting other people are still being used – or, at least, most of them are. (Trust me on that.)
But the Disruptor of Disruptors for me being single and wanting to meet “available” women is online dating.
It’s brilliant. It’s changed my life. I actually had a date a couple of weeks ago.
That’s all I have time to talk about today. That’s because I have a hot date – and I’m not kidding.
Are any of you dating through an online dating service? If you have any PG-rated stories (PG 13 is okay, too) – and hopefully there are lots of happy endings – leave them in the comment box below.
Then I can show you how big a Social Disruptor online dating actually is.
After that, I’ll come back and show you how we can make money on this massive agent of social change – both directly and through the “spin-off” benefits it is creating.
Have a great weekend.
[Editor’s Note: We encourage you all to “like” and “follow” Shah on Facebook and Twitter. Once you’re there, we’ll work together to uncover the biggest Disruptors – and then bank some sky-high profits.]