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The $2 Billion “Disruptor” That Keeps You From Sitting Home on a Friday Night

15 | By Shah Gilani

I’m busy.

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.]

15 Responses to The $2 Billion “Disruptor” That Keeps You From Sitting Home on a Friday Night

  1. Brenda says:

    Met my fireman husband on line. Married in 10 mon….now for 15 yrs.! All my children met online, married. A cousin in IN met man in CA….married 7 yrs…..he died. Best girlfriend ……married now 9 yrs. IT WORKS!!!
    All on Matchmaker.com (when it was called that…only one on E Harmony.)
    Would do it again, BUT…..many “players” there….have to set up your own criteria, and stick with it!!! Write first, talk phone next, meet AWAY from your home 3rd. Don’t spend a lot of $$ on 1st date!! NEVER tell them what you do and don’t “look rich”…… You usually know if you want to see date a 2nd time in first 5 minutes!! Don’t trust anyone that will not LOOK at you (your eyes) when they talk to you. Gee, I sure would like to meet you….you need help!!! lol The dating game is that……a game! You will know when the right one comes along…..usually when you are NOT LOOKING for someone! Best of luck. Hope to meet you some day.
    Peace, Brenda retired Critical Care Registered Nurse and author

  2. Miriam says:

    Cute article. Will look forward to your next post.

    Good luck with your hot date.

    I have no experience with online dating, so I will be interested in your progress reports.

  3. James says:

    I am an old guy who did online dating for several years. Finally found “The One”. Or, did she find me or did I just settle. Either way, I’m happy and online dating did it for me. I am 72.

  4. Rudolph says:

    a Ring of Care , clearly is being Heard in Your tone on the Topic – “singles sadness”
    Commendable Shah , to still show some ‘natural love’ , in a Day & Age foretold to come – , ‘ & natural Love shall greatly disappear in those days . . ‘

    keep the Sharing of Hope , for a Better World even Clearer ! , than All the Mammon aspirations . .

  5. Patrick says:

    Well, that read was quite unexpected, but since I fall into all of the same categories you identify with, I was really interested reading it. Thanks.

  6. Jeff P. In Canada says:

    Hi Shah, I stopped using online dating sites about 5 years ago because of the security concerns. Within the next month I will become a rather high profile (in a good way) media target and my privacy is a paramount concern for me at this time. I don’t use facebook, linked-in, or any dating sites any more (for the last 5 years). I have seen more and more documentaries being done about the loss of privacy, and its implications, due to social web sites. I will soon become a high profile multi-billionaire and the risk to my personal well-being means that I have to be very careful about any media exposure, including any social media or dating sites.
    Although it is a rush to have the attention that a high profile brings, you lose your anonymity, and that can get in the way of just generally enjoying life with the peace that privacy affords.
    I suggest that you tread gently and watch your back, if you are going to expose yourself to that kind of risk. But I also wish you well in your search for love or lust or whatever it is that you are looking for.

    • MARY says:

      MORE POWER TO YA! I am a widow for 5 years, sometimes think it may be possible to find another but on line is far too impersonal. I have remained celibate. The loss of privacy is a big one and you never really know what type of person is hunting on line. It is bad enough with regular people I know, hoping to enjoy my comfortable life style so they don’t have to make their own honest money. For for a mature woman I find men near my age also want to boss me around and take control of my life. I can well take care of all my financial situations so don’t need someone to help with that. Older than child bearing years have no need to have a protector/provider. Yes sometimes in my busy fine art life I get lonely, and would think it would be nice to have a companion to grow old with but do not even try to find another. I have never replied to a post before, but you said my sentiments exactly! I made a facebook page as Part of my Fine Art /computer Science degree but never posted private info to it. I keep a low profile to keep my privacy and to enjoy life.

  7. Mark says:

    I met my wife on eHarmony. After our wedding, some of my single friends thought they would try it. I know one person didn’t meet anyone that he liked, but another also found their “soul mate,” and got married also. We run into “eHarmony” couples all over the place. It’s great! I was on for about two years…my wife…she had just gotten on for one month, and it happened to be the one month where I was deciding to stop for awhile, but was glad I responded to her before I left the service. We have 3 children and are VERY happy!!!

  8. Hollie says:

    Met my husband on line. We talked back and forth via email for 3 months . We finally met in person month 4 and got married 3 months later . We’ve been married nine years!!!

    • Lloyd S. says:

      One of the great things about on-line dating is that it’s a lot easier to “talk the talk” before you “walk the walk”. πŸ˜‰

  9. Vycke says:

    Actually, I met my husband on the BBSs, back in the 90s. I was in college & he was a townie.. but we saw each other on a board that required real names (not handles). We both thought we had seen the other’s name before, but nope. We started dating Sept 26 1991, got engaged Dec 1 that year… married Jan 30 93 — so it’s been 22 1/2 years now. Not online dating sites… but met online πŸ™‚

  10. Brian says:

    I have tried various online dating sites and have found them to be quite disappointing. I’ve seen lots of out of date photos, inaccurate descriptions, lots of winos, plain old fraudulent profiles. People call themselves of “average” build that need to lose half their bodyweight. My latest theory is that if a woman is very attractive (and fit) she is going to get lots of offers without going online. I’ve decided to quit online dating. I’ll either meet someone the old fashioned way or I’ll stay single. I hope you’ll keep us posted on how it works for you. Good Luck!

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