Sam Yagan is an American Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of OkCupid. In 2013, he was named to TIME Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ list He is currently the CEO of the world’s largest e-dating site, Match.com.
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I studied Applied Mathematics in college, and after working on SparkNotes and eDonkey, I co-founded OkCupid with 3 far more talented people: Chris Coyne, Max Krohn, and Christian Rudder. After we sold OkCupid to Match, I became the CEO of The Match Group, which includes not just Match and OkCupid, but also Tinder, Meetic, OurTime, and about 40 other brands around the world.
Incredulously, I have been named to TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40.”
The three most common new year's resolutions involve money/career, health/fitness, and relationships, making this our busiest time of the year as millions of people make finding love a renewed priority. I've got 12 years of experience running dating businesses and all the data at my fingertips, ready to help you if I can. AMA.
Thanks so much for your questions! Please check out OkCupid, Match, Tinder, or any of our other products! I hope you enjoyed this AMA as much as I did. Best, Sam.
I very clearly pointed out in my profile that I will totally NOT murder any of my potential matches but for some reason, I can't find true love.
Any ideas on how I can improve my odds?
Maybe have a more inviting username than "warlizard"? :)
Could you please implement a function on OkCupid that allows for people to search and see if they're in their matches' preferred age range? This is a common addition that gets asked for a lot on /r/okcupid
I'm not sure we'll do it exactly that way, but we have often discussed ways of enforcing people's age preferences. The problem is that not everyone cares about their age ranges equally, meaning that many people don't at all mind chatting with people outside their ranges -- their ranges are a preference, but not a firm filter.
Is online dating "good" for society? Why or why not, and what are the potential unintended consequences of this behavior?
Btw, I met girlfriend of over a year on OkCupid, so thanks! :)
I love this question. I've long believed that dating apps truly make society better, in several ways:
1) Undoubtedly, greater choice leads to the selection of higher quality spouses.
2) Technology makes it easier to meet people who are less similar (farther away, different socioeconomic levels, different ethnicity, etc.).
3) The ease of getting back in the dating market makes empowers people in bad relationships to leave them, knowing that loneliness isn't the only alternative to their current situation.
Being the CEO of a group that discernably specialises in finding love, have you personally used any of your services and subsequently found success?
Here's some OkCupid trivia: None of the four founders has ever been on an online date of any kind.
How has the role of data and algorithms changed in the life of OKCupid? I feel like initially, it was more data-driven and gave users more access to match percentages. Lately, the interface has felt more Tinder-like, focusing on spending less time per match and showcasing photos and quick blurbs of text if any. Do you think this trend of focusing on quick, picture-based interactions will continue? Thank you!
I wouldn't say it's about picture-based or not picture-based. Pictures are always important in any dating environment. More important, though, is the form factor. The average person checks her smartphone over 100 times a day and the average time a person spends in an app is about 90 second. Consumers now expect to get value from an app in under a minute, while we at OkCupid are as data-geeky as ever, the interface for users will continue to evolve to feel as current and relevant as possible.
But treadmills might lead to better dates.
I think you've just come up with the next big thing!
Does the free-ness of OKC attract a different group of people as compared to Match's subscription fee? Do you think this would even go as far to affect the relationship that could be formed from each site? Which site see's the most traffic? How does that relate to matches? Last one, how it feel know you're sites have paired literally tens of thousands of people together?
Each dating product attracts a different user, and "freeness" is just one component (Tinder & OkC attract different users; Match and OurTime attract different users, etc.). So, yes, Match users and OkC users are different. I hate talking about "better quality" when referring to human beings, but it is true that people who pay for Match likely have higher intent than people on OkCupid or Tinder.
Yea, I've heard that before. I've always wondered though, "why not?". Is there any specific reason you guys chose to not try out online dating yourselves?
We were all dating our future wives when we started OkC. And before that, we were basically in college where online dating wasn't really pervasive.
You've owned and sold many successful companies. What are some of your best productivity tips?
Bonus question: What's your favorite color?
I'll take the extra credit first: Orange. :)
As for productivity:
Hey there! I actually just wanted to let you know that I found the love of my life on OkCupid. We've been together for 2 years.
How is the overall satisfaction rate for your other endeavors?
That's awesome! You made my day! We get countless success stories from users across all of our products, so I think satisfaction rates are pretty high. At the end of the day, you get out of dating products what you put into them, so people who really engage earnestly usually find success.
Hi Sam! I was wondering what historical data tells us about all these new users (for both genders) that pop up at the beginning of the year, presumably because they made finding love part of their 2015 resolution? Sometimes I wonder how many of them will actually end up sticking around the OKCupid community, or will most of these 'rush' profiles end up being abandoned/deactivated in a few days, much like gym goers in January disappears after the first week, and not really worth messaging?
By the way, thank you for founding OKCupid! You've helped me find happy, meaningful relationships that helped me grow over the years :)
Great question. While certainly a few of the people who signup for dating apps in the new year's rush don't stick around, the vast majority do. Not sure how that compares with gym memberships, but my guess is that dating apps do better since they don't require you to actually get out of your house, show up at a gym, and then exercise. You can just fire up the app wherever you are and then have fun on dates. Dates are better than treadmills! :)
How active is OKC's user base outside of the US and EU?
Thanks for doing this AMA!
OkC does really well in English-speaking countries and really poorly outside. It's on our list. :)
Why do high matches on okcupid ignore each other? Am I not grabbing peoples attention? Why is it harder for same sex daters to find dates on okcupid?
On your second question, I believe that OkCupid is the dating app of choice for most same-sex daters. We have always welcomed same-sex daters and individuals from other marginalized communities.
Why do high matches ignore each other? Well, most people ignore other people -- online and offline -- but Christian has done the research and we know for a fact that high match percentages definitely increase the probability that two people will communicate.
If you send me a link to your profile, I can try to see if I have any suggestions to make it more grabby. :)
What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
Gosh, so many. I think the biggest challenge was turning OkCupid around. In 2009, OkC really wasn't doing well. Growth had slowed. We were running out of money. We'd been doing it for six years and the founders were all getting impatient. But we all dug in and saved the company, turning it in to what it is today.
Hi Sam, thanks for this AMA!
I was really wondering how a day in the life of Sam Yagan looks like.
Bonus question - What are some of your hobbies, and how do you get by a weekend?
I spend a lot of time traveling (we have offices in Dallas, NYC, LA, Paris, Rio, SF, etc.), but when i wake up at home, I typically get up early (today was 5:15) go for a run (today was 5k) and get my kids ready for school and off to the bus stop. I try to be at work by 8 and spend most of my day talking to the people who run the various businesses (Tinder, Match, OkCupid, Meetic, etc) or our big functions (Technology, product, finance, marketing, analytics, etc.). Then home for dinner with the family, before catching up on email after the kids turn in.
Hobbies? I used to have them. Now I just have little kids. :)
What do you think is the biggest hurdle in making internet dating "cool"?
It gets more and more mainstream every day. I dont even really care about "cool" i just want it to be "normal." I want everyone who wants love/friendship/dates/relationships to have them. I want to contribute to that mission every single day. And I dont want anyone to be deprived of affection or companionship because the most effective tool ever created -- online dating -- is somehow not "cool" or "normal" enough. It just makes me sad.
What's your favorite kind of soup?
Used to be cream of mushroom. Now probably something with butternut squash or corn. Or both.
How do you feel about people using your sites for side action? It's unfortunate, but I know it does happen.
Whenever I think about online dating, i always start with the offline dating analog. I don't condone "side action," whether found online or offline, but it's not the bar or the dating app at fault, of course, it's the "side actor."