HowAboutWe lets people look for connections based on first-date ideas.Credit
IAC/InterActiveCorp has made one thing crystal clear: The company wants to be the leading player in the digital dating market.
While IAC owns more than 150 media brands and products, it is perhaps most recently known for its Match Group of companies, a cluster of properties focused on dating, relationships and all things matchmaking in the online universe. Among the most recognizable brands are Match.com, OkCupid, and the much-talked-about mobile app Tinder.
Chalk up another dating property to the company's roster. Match Group has acquired parts of HowAboutWe, a Brooklyn-based start-up. Representatives for the Match Group and HowAboutWe confirmed the deal but would not disclose the price.
Founded in 2010 by Aaron Schildkrout and Brian Schechter, two former teachers from Boston, HowAboutWe hosts a handful of online romance sites; its marquee offerings are HowAboutWe Dating, a matchmaking and date-suggestion service for singles, and HowAboutWe Couples, a date-suggestion service. The site is free to use, and also offers a subscription-based upgraded service starting at $8 a month.
"We spent the last five years building and scaling HowAboutWe; our unique 'offline dating' experience has been used by millions of people and has helped many, many people fall in love," Mr. Schildkrout, now chief executive of This Life, Inc., the parent company of HowAboutWe, said in a statement. "Our new partnership with IAC will help us bring this dating experience to an even larger number of people than ever before."
The acquisition adds another service to IAC's already large dating site portfolio. Match Group had $205 million in dating revenue in the first quarter of 2014, the company said in its most recent earnings statement. Business Insider previously reported that IAC and HowAboutWe were in acquisition talks.
HowAboutWe, which has raised around $23 million to date from investors such as RRE Ventures, Founder Collective and Khosla Ventures, has faced stiff competition from IAC's stable of five separate dating properties. To brace against IAC's steady expansion into online dating, HowAboutWe began to diversify its portfolio of services. Earlier this year, HowAboutWe acquired Nerve.com. It planned to offer a suite of relationship and lifestyle online publications, aimed at couples who have graduated past the dating phase and are looking for articles on sex and relationships.
"The online dating business is completely monopolized -- IAC owns online dating," Mr. Schechter told Fortune in a January interview. "So what we're trying to do is build a media company whose sole focus is love. And we think that's the way to beat IAC." The new venture, called HowAboutWe Media, brought the start-up a new revenue stream with its plan to sell advertising across a network of four media sites.
The deal includes HowAboutWe's dating and media properties. It does not involve the Couples side of the business, Mr. Schildkrout confirmed to The Times. As a result, only a portion of HowAboutWe employees will move to IAC, according to two people who would speak only under the condition of anonymity. Other employees will remain with the Couples business, while some have been laid off, these people said.
Correction: July 14, 2014
An earlier version of this post misstated the company for which Aaron Schildkrout works as the chief executive. He is the chief executive of This Life, Inc., the parent company of HowAboutWe; he is not the chief executive of HowAboutWe.