WATCH: The man who created the “Plenty of Fish” dating website is talking about the multi-million dollar sale of his website. Nadia Stewart reports.
TORONTO — Markus Frind became more than half a billion dollars richer this week, after Match.com‘s parent company bought his free dating site PlentyofFish for $575 million. Not bad for a 36-year-old guy who launched the company from his Vancouver apartment in 2003 following a couple weeks of writing code.
His goal when he started was just to improve his resumé. He figured the start-up might help him land a job after graduating from the B.C. Institute of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems Technology. But within about five months, according to the BBC, he had thousands of dollars a month pouring in from online ads.
That’s when he realized he might not have to worry about the CV anymore. One year after the site was founded, he travelled to 28 countries. By the five-year mark, his site had 15 million signups and was bringing in $10-million in revenue. So he decided to double his workforce — to two.
“I hired my first employee.”
Frind would reportedly try to limit his work-day to just five hours. “There’s only so many hours in the day that you’re actually productive,” he told the BBC, which dubbed him “the man behind a million babies.”
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The work-life balance approach seems to have worked for him. POF’s revenue has doubled since 2012. This past March, POF surpassed 100 million users and was billed as the world’s largest online dating site, with reportedly four million users daily and service available in five languages.
All the while, the online dating giant has maintained Vancouver as its hub. The downtown office eventually grew to house 75 employees.
Of course it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Frind had to navigate a landscape that was drastically different than when he first started his site.
“The web wasn’t very interactive, and it was a social network before there were social networks,” Frind said in March.
Over the last two or three years, the amount of traffic that came to the site from mobile devices shot up from 10 to as much as 90 per cent, he added. POF also became a top-ranked app.
The company expanded offline as well with the 2013 acquisition of FastLife, the world’s largest speed dating and singles event company.
In his BBC interview last August, Frind was adamant that he had no intention of selling to any of the investors who had expressed interest in his company.
“I have no other plans — doing anything else would just be like watching grass grow.”
The only plan he did talk about was sprucing up a ranch with his wife, whom he met online. So what does it feel like to finally accept a deal for more than half a billion bucks?
“It feels really surreal,” Frind told Global News. “It hasn’t sunk in yet…I’m still processing it all.”
This week, Frind said he’ll be sticking around to run POF.
“Then we’ll see where the future takes us.”Follow @TrishKozicka
With files from The Canadian Press
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