eHarmony vs. Love.com

The business model for Love.com borrowed heavily from eHarmony

Men and women have a deep-seated need to find one another (duh). Whether that imperative is merely biological or is primarily Biblical (“it is not good for Man to live alone”), our souls yearn to find that special someone.
I’m a big fan of dating sites. eHarmony, Match.com and other sites provide a useful and important function in today’s society. (Note: I have not been a heavy user personally of these sites. My wife frowns on me dating outside the marriage. What a spoilsport!) While a majority of singles do marry by age 40 (80% of men and 86% of women) there are now more singles than marrieds in the prime marrying years (25-34). What gives?
Obviously, singles are postponing marriage. So, instead of marrying a high school sweetheart or the college beau, singles are establishing careers or other endeavors. But how to meet that special someone later in life, especially if a job requires geographic relocation? Bars are iffy, at best. Employers discourage workplace romances. Jobseekers have national sites to match qualifications and openings, like Monster.com. Why not sites for people seeking relationships? Indeed, these sites are flourishing, with members creating and marketing personal profiles to advertise availability. We’ve all heard stories about unfortunate dates and experiences, but those occur whether it’s an online date or ‘in the wild’.
I got the idea for Love.com, the fictional dating site and namesake for my well-received novel, Love.com from a Wall Street Journal story on eHarmony. As a business paper, the Journal delved into the economic aspects of eHarmony: its founding, revenues, management, competition and pricing strategy. I came to respect Dr. Neil Clark Warren, its co-founder and spokesman, who became the inspiration for John Underwood, the character who developed the Love.com matching protocols – similar to eHarmony’s brilliant 29 dimensions of human personality. Of course, in the novel eHarmony morphs in the thinly veiled eUnity and Match.com becomes MatchAmerica.com. Like I said, I’m a fan so I treat these companies with great respect.
But it was the Journal’s discussion of eHarmony’s pricing strategy that got my creative juices flowing. Instead of charging subscribers a monthly fee in hopes of meeting someone, my character, the beautiful and talented Marsha Underwood, proposed signing up subscribers for free, and charging only after a successful match is made. After all, she reasons, people love a guarantee. But such a pricing strategy provides too much of a temptation for Love.com’s greedy management not to tinker with Mother Nature, with fascinating consequences.
I actually believe the business model for a dating service as described in Love.com would succeed. But as interesting and plausible as all this becomes, it is the cast of colorful characters and their circumstances that make Love.com such a fun read. A murder mystery/romantic suspense built around a dating service that becomes a worldwide phenomenon: gotta love it! Love.com

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