The online dating wars are getting ugly. IAC’s Match.com is demanding that newer rival PlentyOfFish — which is now the top dating site globally — stop making a very long list of claims about its service. Among the statements made by PlentyOfFish that Match.com doesn’t think are true: “20,000 people sign up per day; Our members will go on over 18 million dates with other users this year; If you come from a midsized city, there is a good chance there are at least 3,000 people online right now in your city.”
Writes Match.com General Counsel Marshall Dye in a letter to PlentyOfFish founder Markus Frind, “Based on my knowledge of the industry, these claims cannot be supported and are misleading and/or false.” Dye asks Frind to provide proof; if Frind isn’t comfortable doing so, Dye offers to enter into a “confidentiality agreement.”
In a blog post, Frind says he will not focus on “threats from match.com” — but also takes the time to challenge several claims Match.com has made about the success of its own service.
As a reader points out on the PlentyOfFish blog, the back-and-forth has strong similarities to a dispute between Quicken-maker Intuit and Mint.com a year ago. Like Match.com, Intuit was a long-time market leader, under attack by a new competitor with a disruptive, free service. Intuit fired off a letter to Mint asking for “substantiation” of claims the company was making about its growth. Ultimately, Intuit must have decided the claims were in fact true because eight months later it purchased Mint.com for $170 million in cash.
Match.com, by the way, has been quite acquisitive lately. Is this the rocky start to what will ultimately be a long-term relationship with PlentyOfFish?