- Stephen McArthur
- ATA Fund II
- ATA Involvement:
- Support: Hatch Graham
Zoosk is the romantic social network that helps members create and share their romantic journeys, with millions of members from around the globe enjoying the service each month. Zoosk provides members at different stages of their romantic journey with a fun and social set of tools such as Romantic Moments, Couple Profiles, and the Personals application. Members can easily access Zoosk’s services from its website, its Facebook app, mobile devices, and a downloadable desktop application. Zoosk is available in 25 languages and has members in more than 70 countries.
Market segment change is contrary to conventional wisdom for a startup; however, it’s a necessary level of flexibility required in early stage investing. In the case of Zoosk, in 2007, co-founders Alex Mehr and Shayan Zadeh had initially developed an application that could be distributed through blogs and social networks providing multimedia polling to users. Having raised seed capital from ATA, the team was also encouraged by ATA’s Mike Hodges to explore new market opportunities that might surface based on a recent announcement that Facebook was opening its platform to third party applications.
“Although Zoosk experienced growth with the initial application, we derived a variety of other socially attractive concepts, including a widget to enable Facebook members to gather photos from friends and rate them. The market reaction was overwhelming, and membership grew to roughly two hundred thousand users in two weeks.” Alex Mehr, Co-CEO
Alex and Shayan met with Mike to evaluate the impressive membership results, including the subtleties discovered in the preliminary user activities which suggested the Social Network was a valuable market for romance and dating applications. Relying on extensive user metrics, the Zoosk team felt they could quickly experiment on a variety of important parameters ranging from conversion rates to lifestyle behavior, then identify actionable steps towards immediate improvement of membership growth rate. Together, they agreed to repurpose a portion of the investment capital and begin quantitative modeling, all in an effort to determine the best path for expanding the early signs of viral growth.
“On a Friday night while working together at Mike’s home, we developed a pricing strategy to test within the Australia market the next morning. The results were positive, and within one week, the entire Zoosk member base across five countries was converted to the new pricing.” Shayan Zadeh, Co-CEO
From that evening in 2007, Zoosk began a historic rise in Social Networking for personal relationships. Within 12 months, the company became the #1 Social Networking on-line dating site in the world, expanding to 12 languages across 22 countries and delivering more page views per day than the Wall Street Journal. And the growth didn’t stop — by 2011, Zoosk grew annual revenues to roughly $100M across a membership base in 77 countries, including 25 languages, and 60 currencies.