On Thursday, Facebook finally announced the long-anticipated U.S. launch of its online dating product, Facebook Dating. Facebook stock rose +2% on the news while IAC, the majority owner of online dating giant Match Group, fell -4%.
In a space that already has several entrenched market leaders from the likes of Tinder and its peers, we see Facebook leaning into its troves of user data to try to get a leg up on the competition when it comes to generating strong matches and positive user experiences.
For example, Facebook's platform will uniquely offer users the ability to pair up with matches based on the groups they are in or the events they have attended or will be attending. It also offers an optional "Secret Crush" function that enables users to optionally match with people they already know on Facebook or Instagram.
We believe Facebook's existing platforms give it a leg up in drawing in new users to its platform (particularly those who have never before used online dating platforms), and should help it scale to the critical mass inherently needed for network-based businesses like online dating.
That said, it remains to be seen how large a dent Facebook will be able to make against its specialized competition who each have multi-year leads in the category and strong, specific brand identities. It's also unclear at this point how comfortable consumers will be commingling their personal lives with their online social identities.
Either way, we expect Facebook's launch to serve as an additional tailwind to overall category growth as it helps accelerate societal normalization of online dating.
We'll be following this product launch closely as it progresses throughout the year - stay tuned for more updates.