OkCupid Navigates a New Owner
OkCupid sold to Match.com for $50 million in early 2011. Sam Yagan, OkCupid co-founder and CEO, talks about how "his baby" lives on even after he doesn't own it anymore.
00:00 Sam Yagan: My name is Sam Yagan, co-founder and CEO of OkCupid.com.
How did you pick a good buyer for your company?
00:07 Sam: Selling a company that you started is something that you only do a few times, if you're lucky, in your life. And so it's a process that you have to really invest in emotionally and intellectually. It's not just about the number. It's about the business relationship that you're building with the acquirer that's going to happen after the transaction. But more than anything, its, I think, one of trying to preserve the culture of your organization. How do you want your baby to live on after you don't own it anymore? We knew that Match.com wasn't going anywhere as a company committed to online dating. And so OkCupid, in that family, would also continue to thrive. And so there were lots of other people who wanted to buy us, but those companies didn't have the same commitment to online dating.
What is it like being owned by the same company as your competitors?
00:57 Sam: We've been part of the Match.com family for the last 9 months and the transaction has gone far better than I ever could have imagine. The relationship that we have with Match.com, chemistry, and all the other sites is really on of... It's like siblings. You want to beat up your brother, you wrestle, you want to do better, but at the end of the day you want them to do really well too. We absolutely compete in the marketplace. I don't think either of us has pulled any punches in terms of changing out product path to accommodate the other. We both think that we have the best dating site in the market. And one of us is right and one of us is wrong. We can disagree on who that is, but the bottom line is that we're all getting along great. All the sites are growing and I think it's pretty clear that we're just expanding the category. More people are online dating today than ever before and I think the Match.com portfolio of sites is the number one reason why.
Have you benefitted from your competitors turned brethren?
01:50 Sam: Honestly, I think the teams are all pushing each other from product perspective. Match does things that we haven't' done before that make us think differently about our business and we push the envelope in ways that I think make the Match product team think differently about their product too. Match.com was way ahead of the OkCupid in making a move to build native apps on Android and iPhone, and really engage their users both on the web and on mobile. And it was something that really wasn't a huge priority for OkCupid prior to the transaction. It's been our number one priority this year and we recently launched something called OkCupid Locals. Making mobile a priority was certainly something that was inspired by Match, but our products are actually very different. If you look at the Match product and the OkCupid mobile product, they're very different and they appeal to different users. But the prioritization and the energy put into mobile was something that we certainly got from Match.
Has being acquired stifled your company's freedom and ability to innovate?
02:43 Sam: Prior to the acquisition, we were widely known as one of the most innovative dating sites in the industry. And the challenge I gave to the company after the acquisition was not to lose any of that enthusiasm or brand or innovation just because we happen to have different corporate owners. And just like going off to college, I really think that this step in OkCupid's life is an exhilarating step and one that it has a great... I think we have a great future ahead of us.