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Dating-focused startups are being lauded by both VCs and bloggers alike these days. At the DEMO conference this week, startups Intelius and Gelato showcased dating-focused products that are intended to equip love seekers with tools to vet potential matches based on their online reputations. Earlier this month, fbFund startup Thread raised $1.2 million in funding for its site that uses Facebook Connect to help people find potential love matches. Thread users can search through a list of their Facebook friends’ single peers. But the concept behind these startups’ offerings assume that people’s online reputation translate into real life. As we saw in the case of “_why,” an influential Ruby programmer, writer and cartoonist who disappeared from the web without a trace, it’s possible to be a well-known online presence without people knowing your true self. So how useful will these dating products really be, and which offering will pan out best for people to weed out bad dating matches?
Gelato has been compared to a dating-focused version of FriendFeed since it streams your latest web activity, such as the latest song you listened to on Last.fm or the last tweet you posted, and uses that information to create a profile for you. It runs on a points-based system that rates how credible your profile is based on whether the information listed in your social network profiles line up. Intelius’ Date Check mobile app for the iPhone, on the other hand, can compile a report on a potential suitor by scouring publicly available records. The startup claims the app can show whether a future date has gotten a DUI or been convicted of drug possession or sexual assault. Yet having a mobile private investigator on hand may raise some privacy concerns. So will Intelius’ public records database trump Gelato’s reliance on people’s virtual personas? At the end of the day, it comes down to which service will draw the largest audience.
Images courtesy of Intelius and Gelato.